During your transformational tour to the ancient power places™ of Peru experience Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo offers magnificent ruins in a spectacular setting. One can see many examples of excellent Inca stonework here as well as extensive terracing on the surrounding cliffs.
Ollantaytam lies near the famed Urubamba river in the area known as the Sacred Valley, a place of rest and relaxation for the ancient Incas and the royal family. There are many Inca structures remaining at what was once the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti. A town and important ceremonial center were built there.
Dating from the 15th century, Ollantaytambo has some of the oldest continuously inhabited dwellings in South America. It has been built on top of original stone foundations and is the best surviving example of Inca town planning. Historically ancient, the town is still quite alive today, as you will see during your visit there.
Among the wonders to experience is the extensive ceremonial center, entered via a series of gigantic stairways that continue to the top of the terrace complex. The stone for these buildings was taken from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba river.
The temple sector has three main areas, including Temple Hill. This site is made from cut and fitted stones on a hill facing the town, and is framed on either side by rock outcroppings. One can see numerous unfinished structures, rectangular buildings, fountains and waterways. The fountains and waterways were possibly used for purification and cleansing purposes. Standing there one senses the mystical energies of the water element as it courses through the waterway.
During many of our transformational tours there are meditations and ceremonies done at this mystical site. Starting at the water temples pause for purification of body, mind and spirit. Walking the path and up the stone stairways one experiences the element of earth, and Pachamama (Mother Earth in the ancient Incan language of Quechua). Reaching the top you are suddenly faced by a wall of Six Monolithic stones. One can easily sense the potent energy of the Sun Temple and the element of fire as the monolithic stones collect the power of Intitaytanchi, Father Sun in the ancient language of the Incas.
Standing with one’s back again the monolithic stones, you naturally find yourself breathing in deeply, stoking the fire, water and earth element with your breath,the element of air, as you meditate. Walking back down the stairways one may feel lighter, inspired, peaceful and a sense that all is right with the world.
One of the most striking aspects of this site is to be found in the extensive agricultural terraces. These start at the base of the valley and climb the surrounding hills. The development of this type of farming was unique, and permitted farming in an otherwise impractical environment. By creating independent ecological zones through the clever layout of terraces, the Inca were able to create differing growing zones by adjustments in altitude.
Storing the crops needed for so many workers was another challenge met in uniquely Incan style. Large storehouses made of fieldstones were built on hill surrounding the town. These storehouses featured ventilation systems as a part of their design, where low temperatures and strong winds combined to enhance storage ability.
Lastly, Ollantaytambo’s location leant itself to a plan for defense. To protect themselves during the time of the Spanish conquest, the Incans re-routed the Urubamba river, built up fortifications and protected trade routes and entrances to their valley. It is here that Hernando Pizarro led 100 Spaniards and 30,000 Indian auxiliary troops against an Inca army of over 30,000. The Spanish were fought to a retreat, one of the few times historically that they were defeated. (Pizarro came back the next day and won).
When walking through the Old Town section, one feels like they are walking through time. It was built by the Incas over 500 years ago, and is still inhabited. Ancient sandals stepped into these courtyards, and have left their prints in the dust ever since, including your own tracks. Much of the town is still laid out the way it was in Inca times. Irrigation systems and aqueducts constructed here so long ago are still in use today.
Ollantaytambo was many things to the Incas; a military, administrative, political, religious, agricultural and residential complex, and one of the largest cities discovered by the Spanish conquistadors.
Although overshadowed in most minds by Macchu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is well worth seeing. It is a beautiful old Incan town with cobblestone streets, surrounded by mountains. History, beauty, and a unique setting make this living Inca city a definite destination place.