During the Incan rule, Pachacútec conquered the region and built the village and a ceremonial center. In the time of the conquest it served like fort of Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. It is the only Inca city in Peru that is still inhabited. In Ollantaytambo there are platforms of resistance (to avoid landslides), not agricultural as in the other archaeological sites of Cuzco. Today it is an important tourist attraction due to its Inca constructions and for being one of the most common starting points of the Inca road to Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo is a typical example of the extraordinary urban planning of the Incas, and therefore a must visit point for anyone interested in this civilization.
There are cobbled and winding alleys, the ruins are scattered everywhere and its agricultural terraces are an attractive feature that stand out for themselves and the visitor can appreciate it in all its splendor. Among the ruins, it is advisable to visit the old fort and the temple, where we can enjoy magnificent views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
According to Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, a Spanish chronicler of the sixteenth century, the Inca emperor Pachacutec conquered and destroyed Ollantaytambo and then incorporated it into his empire. Under Inca rule the village was rebuilt with splendid buildings and the Urubamba River valley was irrigated and provided with platforms. The village served as a shelter for the Inca nobility while the platforms were worked by yanaconas- servants of the emperor. After the death of Pachacútec the region passed to the custody of his panaqa- his family group.
During the conquest, Ollantaytambo served as temporary capital for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance against the Spanish conquistadors. Under his rule, the village and its surrounding areas were severely fortified in the direction of the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco, which had fallen under Spanish rule. On the plain of Mascabamba, near Ollantaytambo, Manco Inca defeated a Spanish expedition blocking its advance from a set of platforms and flooding the plain. However, despite his victory, Manco Inca did not consider it feasible to stay in Ollantaytambo so he retired to the thick forest of the Vilcabamba area. In 1540, the native population of Ollantaytambo was entrusted to Hernando Pizarro.
Ollantaytambo is one of the most monumental architectural complexes of the ancient Inca Empire, commonly labelled a “Fortress”, due to its huge walls, was in fact a Tambo or city-lodging, strategically located to dominate the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The architectural type used, as well as the quality of each stone, worked individually, make Ollantaytambo one of the most peculiar and surprising works of art made by the ancient Peruvians, especially the Temple of the Sun and its gigantic monoliths.
The straight, narrow and picturesque streets still form fifteen blocks of houses located to the north of the main square of the city, that in itself constitute a true historical legacy. Some houses of colonial type are built on beautiful Inca walls finely polished. The tones of the stone are cheerful, of a petrified flower color- dark pink. In the main square, a large block of perfect edges fit in a double row to form fifteen angles of a terrestrial star.
- Region Cusco
- Province Urubamba
- District Ollantaytambo
- Altitude 2,792masl
The Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo is located in the district of the same name, in the province of Urubamba, department of Cusco. It was declared as such by National Directorial Resolution No. 395 of 2002.
By bus: It is accessed by the asphalted roads Cusco – Chinchero – Urubamba – Ollantaytambo and Cusco – Pisaq – Calca – Urubamba – Ollantaytambo.
By train: It is accessed from Cusco – Poroy – Ollantaytambo.
The climate of Ollantaytambo is dry from April to December and rainy in the months of January to March. Due to its location in a valley, at night there is a moderate wind. The minimum temperature is 5°c to 11°c and maximum temperatures from 18°c to 23°c throughout the year.
OLLANTAYTAMBO - THE TOWN
The village was divided into rectangular blocks with a well-planned geometric scheme that gives the impression of being a village designed by modern architects. Its thin streets open in the direction of the Urubamba River. Every block is composed of a set of houses that share a door to the central courtyard.
Originally, a suspension bridge was used, made with braided fibers of ichu or maguey, that had to be renewed annually. Today, the stone bridges that cross the river are built on two enormous corners.
The agricultural activity of this area was benefited by the presence of the Patakancha stream, a place where you could see large terraces that are unfortunately now deteriorated and abandoned.
This sector was mainly dedicated to the cult of “Unu” or “Yaku” (water deities). For this reason, there were a number of sources that served this purpose, such as the Bath of the Ñusta, which is one of the fountains carved in a single piece of granite. 1.30 meters high and 2.50 meters wide, it is one of the best known of its kind and water still flows from its interior today.
This place is constituted by a short plateau that goes to a huge hill where there are diverse archaeological monuments. The main one is located at the top and is known as La Fortaleza or Casa Real del Sol (Royal House of the Sun).
To the west of the square is a set of terraces that served two purposes: cultivation, and to stop the corrosion of the most important temples in the area.
To the right, the platforms are located facing the side of the square. The upper group of these stand out because of the fine workmanship of its stones and its excellent assembly. The last platform contains the enclosure with ten niches, also called the Temple of the Ten Windows, and the Monumental Front, whose function is still unknown.
Also worthy of mention is the Inca Misana, an aqueduct carved in the stones of the mountain, next to a liturgical fountain, small stairs, and niches of false openings; Which served as a place where the Inca spoke to his people.
The privileged position of Ollantaytambo allowed other small buildings strategically located at high angles of the mountains, to control the movement of the people in the valley.
The Royal House of the Sun, and Ollantaytambo in its entirety, still preserves the layout of the urban planning of the Inca. You can still feel the presence of Manco Inca, who faced Hernando Pizarro in 1537 during the Inca resistance that continued for many more years within the rooms.
The fortress or shrine consists of seventeen terraces superimposed, built on large stones of carved pink granite (porphyry red), that measure more than four meters in height, two in width and two in thickness.
The walls of the Royal House of the Sun have an internal inclination. The main one is a composition of six blocks of enormous stones, with joints of small stones, that are part of the Main Altar.
It is believed that the main quarry for the construction of the place was Cachicata, located 6 km away on the left side of the Vilcanota river. The rocks were partially carved into the quarries, and then lowered into the valley. But there were some, known as “tired stones,” that did not reach their destination. How they carried the enormous stones from long distances is very impressive; they required an artificial run parallel to the river to move the immense moles, and raise them by a steep slope. They used instruments like wood rollers, rolling stones, camel leather leathers, levers, pulleys, and the strength of thousands of men.
It is thought that this type of construction pre-dates the architecture of Tiawanako – that the collas brought from the region of the Lake Titicaca because in the outer surface of the room, to the south end, there are three carved symbols that belong to the pre-pottery culture: Hanan Pacha (Sky), Kay Pacha (Earth’s Surface) and Ukhu Pacha (Subsoil or Interior), but the Inca peculiarities are differentiated by the use of joints and finely polished exterior surfaces, which even served as mirrors.
To know the mysteries and the power of its walls you can enter the fortress by means of a stone stairway (15 to 20 minutes) that takes you to an esplanade and a portal that faces the Plaza Mañay Racay.
Located in the upper part of the Temple of the Sun, on an almost vertical slope, the Inca Huatana or Intihuatana consists of a wall with high niches, on whose sides there are security holes up to 80 cm deep. In front of these there is a structure that is suspended over a precipice. It is believed this was used for the torture and execution of prisoners of war or criminals, although the function of astronomical observatory is the most accepted.
Pincuylluna, which means “where the pincuyllo is played” (a wind instrument of Inca origin) is located west of the Patucancha River, in front of the Temple of the Sun. It is an architectural complex that is composed of buildings of three identical and superposed blocks. The base of the blocks is rectangular, they have six windows in the facade and six in the wall closest to the hill, providing adequate ventilation and illumination.
This place has the most interesting colcas (agricultural deposits) of the Sacred Valley, because to the left of these you can see a gigantic block of stone that, for the locals, represents the face of an Inca.
If you want to visit the place, we advise that the tour is a three-hour walk.
The museum is the work of the Andean Center for Traditional Technology and Culture of the Communities of Ollantaytambo (CATCCO). We recommend you to visit it because it presents the history of the region in an informative and modern way .
It contains five rooms on the second floor of a mansion in an old Inca court, allowing the visitor to know more about the history, archeology, architecture, crafts and beliefs of the inhabitants of Ollantaytambo.
In addition, this association organizes walks through seven ancestral routes: Yanacocha, Pincuylluna, Pumamesarca, Huílloc, Páchar, Cachicata and Ollantaytambo. The walks take from three to seven hours, and they have tour guides.