The Ollantaytambo ruins is an almost obligatory point on the Sacred Valley Machu Picchu tour for those who simply have an interest in everything related to the Incas. In remote times, the Ollantaytambo town was used as a ceremonial center and fortress where the leaders of the Inca resistance were protected when the Spanish invasion took place. At present, a large part of the structures are still standing, undoubtedly they are proof of the perfection of the architecture of the Inca Empire, which to this day generates astonishment in all parts of the world.
Ollantaytambo constituted a strategic military, agricultural and religious center to administer and control the Sacred Valley of the Incas; this is deduced by the constructions that presumably were for agricultural deposits and for military use like walls and watchtowers (probably to protect themselves from the jungle ethnic groups). There are 150 steps that separate the summit from the lower part and you can see the perfect carving of the stones, obviously dedicated to the cult of water, with great similarity to those of Tipón (South Valley of Cusco). This place was the ceremonial center of water purification and worship. The archaeological site comprises a series of overlapping terraces, showing the impressive and large stone blocks finely carved and located on the upper terrace (Temple of the Sun).
The Inca remains in Ollantaytambo ruins are vestiges of the town that Pachacutec ordered to build, after subduing its inhabitants and conquering these lands, imposing agricultural infrastructure works, composed of hundreds of platforms and channels to secure farmland, checkpoints and vigilance in the tops of the hills, domestic and ceremonial buildings. They also built a bridge to connect the town with the Inca Trail, and built urban satellites on the route to Machu Picchu.
The Plaza Manyaraqui with its fountains is believed to have been part of a center to pay homage to water. On Cerro Pinkuylluna or Tunupa, there are huge stone constructions, of 2 or 3 floors, which are presumed to be agricultural deposits (colcas) or lookout points. There is also an enormous stone that resembles the face of an Inca, watching over Ollantaytambo.
The town of Ollantaytambo is called Living Inca City because its inhabitants live according to uses and customs inherited from their ancestors. From Ollantaytambo, it is possible to visit the town of Willoc, where Quechua is spoken, and whose red and black garments are similar to Huayruro, a red and black seed used as an amulet. Ollantaytambo is the only Inca city that is still occupied by local families. All the design and structure of the original Inca town is evident in the fifteen blocks that make up the town.
It is said that it was Pachacutec himself, who ordered the construction of the Ollantaytambo fortress in order to subdue the inhabitants of this area and conquer the lands.
Crossed by acequias, it preserves almost intact the courts -courses for animals, usually llamas- around which the houses are arranged, built in adobe and roofed in straw. The ruins of Ollantaytambo were built with megalithic stones transported from a quarry located at the other end of the sacred valley. This place is nine kilometers from the Inca town of Ollantaytambo and has three groups of quarries: Molle Pucro, Sirkusirkuyoc (it was the largest of the three), shows evidence of having been in full operation when the Spaniards entered this area. And finally Kantirayoq or Cacchicata, where another type of extraction of minerals and precious stones was practiced.
Interestingly, some of the rocks that never reached Ollantaytambo can still be found around the quarry, these are known as the tired stones and there are almost 100 of them around the main site of the quarry. During the cachicata trail, the visitor will be able to observe the great work done when moving the giant stones to build the Ollantaytambo enclosures. We can find the Tired Stones that were left during the inca quarry trail to Machu Picchu and in some parts of the town.
Ollantaytambo has beautiful Inca lithic structures. Because it was the scene of hard battles between rebellious Incas and Spanish in 1537, many of its buildings are damaged or destroyed. Even so, the site still conserves the magic and history of many centuries ago.
The best season is during the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi 2020 Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 days