on April 27, 2005
Part of the Sacred Valley Tour offered throughout Cusco is a stop in the ancient Inca city of Ollantaytambo. On most tours, this is one of the last stops. It is built into a steep mountainside and was a strategic outpost for defense, as well as a religious center. Unlike many places, the town here has original Inca structures that are still lived in by people today. It is a great example of an Inca town still used today.
The history behind Ollantaytambo is quite amazing. After Manco Inca was defeated by the Spanish at Sacsayhuaman, he retreated to here. Hernando Pizarro (Francisco's brother) then came with an army to capture Manco Inca. The Inca's forces and neighboring jungle tribes attacked the Spanish troops and flooded the plains below Ollantaytambo to stop the Spanish advance. Hernando ordered a hasty retreat, though the victory was short-lived when the Spanish returned with four times their previous force. Manco Inca retreated to his jungle stronghold in Vilcabamba, and Ollantaytambo fell into the hands of the Spanish.
Ollantaytambo is made of enormous stepped terraces constructed of unbelievably huge stones. Believe me when I say my pictures do not do any justice. You'd be amazed at the number and size of rocks here. The rock quarry used to build much of the site was across the river valley on the opposite hillside. Workers moved stones used sloping planes, ramps, and rollers. The river was diverted around the rocks on the valley floor, easier than transporting the rocks across the river.
The easiest way to get to Ollantaytambo is to join one of the many Sacred Valley tours offered by many hotels and tour companies in and around Cusco. Look around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco for these operators. The average cost of these tours is $25, plus the $20 Tourist Ticket (a ticket for admittance to 16 historical sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, including Ollantaytambo). Most tour companies also include a buffet lunch with the tour. Tours last all day, departing Cusco around 9am and returning around 6pm.
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