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Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo, a former Inca administrative center and gateway to the Antisuyo (the Amazon corner of the Inka Empire), sits at the northern end of the Sacred Valley. At the time of the Spanish invasion and conquest of Peru Ollantaytambo served as the last stronghold for Inca Manco Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance at the time. Nowadays the Ollantaytambo ruins and town are an important and popular tourist attraction in the Sacred Valley. The town’s primary attraction is the Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the settlement in a section known as the Temple Hill. It is also a frequented attraction as many tourists catch the train to Aguas Calientes from here. To enter Ollantaytambo, tourists need a Cusco Tourist Ticket. A partial ticket or full ticket can be purchased with your tour operator. In the 15th century Inca Pachacutec conquered and began to rebuild the town of Ollantaytambo, constructing terraces for farming and an irrigation system. These huge terraces make up what is called the Fortress or Temple of the Sun. The town became home to Inca nobility. After Inca Pachacutec’s death, the town and its surroundings fell to the hands of his family and then eventually to those of Inca Manco. Inca Manco used Ollantaytambo as a retreat from the attacks of the Spanish. The fortress of Ollantaytambo, originally built for religious purposes, was the site of a major battle, one of the only successful ones against the conquistadors. From high above in the terraces of Ollantaytambo the Incas managed to hold back and defeat the Spanish, in addition they flooded the plain below forcing the Spanish to withdraw. The Spanish had been, briefly, defeated. Manco Inca retreated to the jungle stronghold of Vilcabamba shortly after the battle, knowing that the Spanish would return with even more force. The fortress of Ollantaytambo was soon captured by Pizarro and his men. As you climb the Inca stairs to the top of the fortress of the Ollantaytambo ruins you begin to fathom just how large this structure is. The terraces are taller than the average man and much wider than they look from the bottom. At the top of the fortress is the military area. From here is where Inca Manco and his soldiers watched for the Spanish invaders. This was a great vantage point, and only when you get up there do you realize how high you are up and how much you can see out to the Sacred Valley. A short distance from the top of the fortress you enter the temple complex. This section includes many finely crafted stone pieces such as the Enclosure of the Ten Niches. As you enter the important Temple of the Sun you will see a number of discarded large stone known as piedras cansadas, tired stones. This uncompleted temple holds the Wall of the Six Monoliths. Each of these stones weighs 50 tons and were brought from the nearby quarry.

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