Ollantaytambo: Inca Town and Archaeological Park (Peru)

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Ollantaytambo: Inca Town and Archaeological Park (Peru)

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 13:26
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Ollantaytambo is a town and archaeological site located at the northern edge of the Sacred Valley. A military, religious and agricultural center, it was a stronghold for the Inca resistance during the Spanish conquest of Peru and is the only Inca town 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, or Cuzco, region of southern Peru, it is the only Inca town 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 Cerro Bandolista hill. In addition, 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 South America's oldest continuously occupied buildings. 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, and a ceremonial center.

Ollantaytambo was a military, religious and agricultural center. During 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