Ollantaytambo, the primary gateway to one’s journey to Machu Picchu is a truly authentic ancient Inca and modern Quechua village. Located in the Sacred Valley about an hour and half drive from Cuzco, this village is home to one of the finest archeological sites in Peru. Built on nearly 1500 acres, the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo show a large community with the full-range of complexes ranging from agricultural to religious sections.
The Incas believed in creating their lives to be in harmony with the patterns of the earth and sky. Taking extensive studies throughout the year to determine the location of the summer and winter solstices, the Incas meticulously planned their construction based on celestial movements.
High on an adjacent mountain-top, overlooking the religious and administrative section of Ollantaytambo, the Incas sculpted Tunupa to keep an ever watching eye.
Man on the Mountain. See his beard & crown?
To visit the ruins of Ollantaytambo requires a lot of up-stairs climbing. With steep terraces built up the mountainside, one remains breathless at the expansive construction and high altitudes.
When walking through “The Gateway of the Gods,” the main entry way for the religious section, the perfection of the stone masonry of the Incas become quite apparent.
By no small feat were these huge granite boulders placed high on the hill. The quarry for Ollantaytambo was across the Urubamba river, midway up the mountain. The Incas cut the granite, rolled it down to the river, banked the river to slow the water, rolled the boulder across the river bed, then up a ramp to the construction area.
In learning about the intensive connection between man and the celestial beings created in the construction of Ollantaytambo, there is an excellent book written in Peru and is available on Amazon. Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas has a detailed description of the ruins and multiple photographs taken during the winter and summer solstices. The Incas were particular in having the sun at their significant point in the heavens illuminate the key point within their religious structures.
The History Channel presented an in-depth perspective of Ollantaytambo in their “Ancient Alien’s” series. Regardless if you believe in aliens or not, it does bring to question just how the Incas and cultures before them were able to create the precise stone cuts that are evident throughout Ollantaytambo.
Temple of the Condor
Ollantaytambo is truly a unique place to visit. Spending at least one night is a must when visiting the Sacred Valley. Being able to walk the narrow stone roads throughout the village, with Inca ruins watching overhead, one is completely immersed in the Inca experience.
Quechua men painstakingly mowing the grass by hand.
While the soothing sounds of the waterfalls gently led one through the stone walkways.