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Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
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Ollantaytambo was one of the settlements that came under the rule of the Incas, during the rule of the Inca Pachacutec, the ninth ruler of the Inca dynasty; When Ollantaytambo became the domain of the Incas, the city served as an important checkpoint; According to Inca laws, these lands were reserved for the dynasty of Inca rulers.

The name of Ollantaytambo
Brief History
The City
Temple of the Sun in Aracama
The terracing of Ollantaytambo

About the name of Ollantaytambo

It is pronounced Oh-llan-tay-tam-boh, although people of the place usually shorten its name in different ways, there are people who call it “Ollanta”, in some even they say “Olly”, shortening the name to the extreme. History and cultures are intertwined in this place, deeply rooted in its ancestral history, producing the admiration of the people who visit it. If you decide to visit the city of Ollantaytambo on your trip to Machu Picchu, you will enjoy not only green and beautiful landscapes but the daily life of the inhabitants of this ancient human settlement.

Inca complex of Ollantaytambo
Inca complex of Ollantaytambo


Historical review

Ollantaytambo has numerous records on its history, unlike the enigmatic Machu Picchu; Which, more than a century after its discovery, continues to astonish its mysteries to its own and strangers. It is known that when Manco Inca fled Cusco, he settled in this place to repel the attack of the Spanish invaders.

However, the resistance of the Incas could not stop the Spanish attack, reason why they had to flee towards the forest; Leaving the city in the hands of the invaders, and being an “encomienda” disposed at the hands of Hernando Pizarro, who turned it into an important source of tribute in favor of the colonial state.

Encomienda: The encomiendas were territories made available to the Spanish settlers, with the right to exploit the labor of the communities that lived there. The Inca people were subjected to “change of education and religion”; You can now see pre-Columbian buildings, colonial buildings and contemporary buildings, sharing the same plot.


Ollantaytambo has some of the best construction work done by the Incas. It was long believed that the city was a kind of defense fortress; However, the quality of the work suggests that it also served as a resting place for the royal families who wanted to get to Machu Picchu.

Inca Walls in Ollantaytambo
Inca Walls in Ollantaytambo

Places of interest

Ollantaytambo has a monumental architecture, the urban sector shows the marked separation between residential and administrative buildings, with an agricultural sector where you can appreciate the impressive technology of overlapping platforms, with fountains and irrigation channels, through which water flows today in day.

The city

Ollantaytambo presents a well-organized urban layout with a polygonal design, the square is in the very center of the city, although at present, the space it occupies, is only a fraction of the size it had in antiquity.

Entry to Ollantaytambo
Entry to Ollantaytambo

The south side of the city shows a more worked masonry, while the north side is undoubtedly of lower quality, both in urban design and architecture. Residential buildings follow the same pattern, (single-room buildings); With public spaces, which were used as meeting places.

The Temple of the Sun in Aracama

To the west of the city you will find a construction known as “Aracama”, which without possessing an impressive architecture, offers some places not to be missed, such as the Catholic Church, Manyaraqui Square, Ñusta bath and Temple of the Sun.

The Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo
The Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo

The Temple of the Sun is a monumental building unique in the sacred valley, is built on the top of a pyramid of terraces, leading to the main square of Manyaraqui; To get to it, you need 30 minutes on average. In the place only 6 monoliths survive that should have been one of the most impressive buildings of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; In addition, the relation between these structures and the stars, indicates that it could have been a ceremonial place. It is also believed that they stopped its construction during the Spanish invasion, so it was never completed.

The terracing of Ollantaytambo

The agricultural terraces of Ollantaytambo are one of the best examples of agricultural engineering developed by the Incas. They are 700 m long, 58 m wide and 15 m deep. Everything is built in relation to the position of the Sun and the natural environment, creating particular microclimates, which allow the cultivation of species from lower areas, which otherwise would be impossible to obtain.

Andenería in Ollantaytambo
Terracing of Ollantaytambo


In Ollantaytambo you can also visit the abandoned quarries from which the building material (stone) was extracted from the city. From Ollantaytambo you can take walks to Pumamarka (pre-Inca site), or visit the Yanacocha Lagoon, the main water resource of Ollantaytambo. For more information about Ollantaytambo, you can visit How to get to Ollantaytambo?.


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