Also known as the Urubamba valley, the Sacred Valley is the home of the final Incan resort called Ollantaytambo – a best preserved site of excellent Incan architecture. Currently settled close to the modern Peruvian city of the same name, this archeological site is regarded as one of the most significant sites and is also a sacred town of the Incas. Although it was the final town to be erected by the Incas during the reign of the last ruler named Manko, it is an incomplete site as seen today.
Many experts believe that this site was built to fight against the 16th century conquest by the Spanish. In fact, Ollantaytambo is the sole sight where the Spaniards were conquered by the Incas. So overall, this site acted as a stronghold for ruling over the tactical valley area. In addition, in olden days, it was also a vital zone for quarrying construction items as nearby there were many quarries. And yes, cultivating the high quality maize was also in action here. Nevertheless, the high class Incas always used to acclaim the site for its geographical features as well as great climate.
As this site is nestled on the mountain considered to be holy at 9000 feet, it is really a bit adventurous to reach here. This former regal estate of the ruler Pachacuti is now a popular point along the Inca Trail for 3 to 4 nights hike. From Cuzco, this site is only at 50 miles. Today, Ollantaytambo is explored on the other side of the valley near an old quarry. For the tourists, there is much to see here holy gates, temples, fortifications, stylish irrigation forms of baths as well as canals, fountains, residential complexes, palaces, artificial falls, agricultural terraces, bridges, roads, and storehouses. For the sake of simplicity, the whole area is split into several zones:
Manay Raqay plaza as the legendary hub in the west leading to temples edged by the mud and brick structures. The Qosqo Complex featuring residential homes, canchas, typical walled compounds, niches, portals, and structures. The religious zone called Araqama with a giant gate as well as the upper zone of the most important temples
In the Araqama, the 10 Windows Temple called so due to its 10 niches, the Sun Temple, and Intiwatana that was actually a ceremonial building were the main structures here. In addition, a tower called the ‘Sun Fastener’ acted as an astronomical observatory was also one more vital structure. All of these are said to be dedicated to the sun god. If you go further in the north, a series of water fountains will captivate you, whose actual purpose was tangible during the sacred rites. This is where you will come across the celebrated ‘Princess’s Bath’ – the area where you still see the running water.
Additional highlights of Ollantaytambo include the Inca storehouses, the uphill granary where plenty of produce was preserved against thieves who almost fail to pass through this challenging ascent, Wall of the Six Monoliths, and Terraces of Pumatallis. After all, the entire site including all its split zones engulf the steep slopes that will make you wonder as to what type of people the Incas were, who so beautifully could carved the slopes as well as other construction materials to build these structures.
Once you are done with the ruins, kindly grab the opportunity to discover the modern Ollantaytambo city that straddles at the Sacred Mountain base. This town is worth a look for its great Incan town planning reflected in its layout as well as erections. In line with the ancient site, even this is completely divided into chunks. The main, but a common feature here is that each structure has a doorway that meets a central courtyard flanked by houses. I would recommend you to stay here at least for 2 days to get the maximum out of your trip.
For accommodations, you can choose from Hostal Iskay from $38 also offering airport transfer or Hotel Pakaritampi from $150, which features ruin tour on a horse. Eating is surprisingly of no concern here as you have several options. There are Pizza restaurants, Hearts Café, El Albergue hotel, and Puka Rumi.