Ollantaytambo is a town and archaeological site located at the northern edge of the Sacred Valley. It was a military, religious and agricultural center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it was a stronghold for the Inca resistance and is the only Inca town that is still inhabited.
Ollantaytambo: Inca Town and Archaeological Park
Ollantaytambo is a town and Inca archaeological site situated at the northern end of the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley), along the Patakancha River, at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft) asl. Located within the Cusco (often spelled "Cuzco") region of southern Peru, it is the only Inca town that is still inhabited.
The main settlement is located on the left margin of the Patakancha River with a smaller compound called "Araqhama" on the right margin. The main Inca ceremonial center is located beyond Araqhama on a hill called Cerro Bandolista. Several Inca structures are in the surrounding areas.
According to the Quechua culture, the name comes from 'Ollanta,' the name of an Inca captain protagonist of the Quechua drama 'Ollantay.' The Spanish derivation of the Quechua word 'Tambo' means "city that provides accommodation, food or comfort for travelers."
Built around the middle of the 15th century, Ollantaytambo has some of the oldest continuously occupied buildings in South America. Once a stronghold of Inca resistance to Spanish colonization, it is remarkably well preserved.
During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region and built the town, extensive terraces and irrigation works, as well as a ceremonial center.
Ollantaytambo was a military, religious and agricultural center. During the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century, the town served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.
The main settlement at Ollantaytambo has an orthogonal layout with four longitudinal streets crossed by seven parallel streets. At the center of this grid, the Incas built a large plaza that may have been up to four blocks large; it was open to the east and surrounded by halls and other town blocks on its other three sides.
Notable parts of the town and archaeological park include:
- Temple Hill: a ceremonial center
- Terraces: stair-step-like terraces dug into the slope of the hillside for agricultural purposes
- Storehouses: used to store the production of the agricultural terraces
- Quarries: provided building blocks for the city and ceremonial center
- Defense systems: to fend off Spanish attacks from Cusco and to defend the road to Machu Picchu
- Old town: cobblestones line the perfect rectangular grid of narrow streets