Dating back to the 15th century, Ollantaytambo was established as the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti and is one of the best-preserved Inca sites and example of Inca urban planning.
The Inca emperor Pachacuti conquered and ruled this part of the Sacred Valley, including Ollantaytambo. He built a fortress, agricultural terraces, an irrigation system, a ceremonial center and residences. Ollantaytambo employed several concurring uses: military, political, religious, and residential.
The archaeological site, strategically located in the western Sacred Valley, is the only site in which the Incas were successful in fending off the relentless Spanish conquistadors in 1536. The Incas probably chose Ollantaytambo due to its strategic location on a mountain between two valleys. The fortress was built at the top of the mountain, enabling guards to see incoming invaders. Unfortunately, Pizarro returned in 1540 with his army of Spanish conquistadors who were this time successful in conquering Ollantaytambo.
The village is often overshadowed by the massive towering fortress ruins, but it is worthy of exploration in its own rite. The Patakancha River and canals flow through the village, adding to the charming country vibe.
It’s a grid of cobblestone streets, terraces, courtyards, and markets, with a central town square called the Plaza de Armas. Once encompassing four blocks, the now smaller Inca plaza with adobe structures was built over with Spanish Colonial architecture.
There are quite a few markets in the town square. Though the stalls and storefronts are very small, it’s possible to find unique, locally handmade items.
The village was once home to the Inca elite, and contains some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America, giving a glimpse into the Inca life as well as current residents. Locals still dress in the vibrantly colored traditional Peruvian attire. A walk through the old part of the town is like walking through history.
The Inca Ruins
It was raining on the morning our AdventureSmith Explorations tour had planned to climb the stone fortress called “Temple Hill,” just outside the village. The good news is the rain caused most visitors (including members of our own group) to stay away. The bad news is it made the vertiginous ascent even more treacherous on the uneven slippery stones. [read more]
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More things to do in Peru:
- You Can’t Take Your Clothes Off at Machu Picchu? Now You Tell Me!
- How to Eat Guinea Pig in Peru
- 10 Ways Cusco Will Improve Your Life. Brace Yourself for #8.
- Is Machu Picchu Just for Backpackers? Definitely Not!
- Exploring Peru’s Sacred Valley