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Ollantaytambo Ruins – Inca fortress

May 24, 2019 - ILE Tours Peru

Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru about 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco. It is 2,792 meters above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo in the province of Urubamba in the Cusco region. During the Inca Empire Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of the Emperor Pachacuteq who conquered the region then built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings, magnificent wall and as one of the most common starting points for the Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu.

Around the mid-15th century the Inca emperor Pachacuteq conquered and razed Ollantaytambo.  He then incorporated the town and the nearby region into his personal estate. The emperor rebuilt the town with sumptuous constructions and undertook extensive works of terracing and irrigation in the Urubamba Valley.  The town provided lodging for the Inca nobility while the terraces were farmed by yanaconas, retainers of the emperor. After Pachacuteq’s death, the estate came under the administration of his panaqa or family clan.

During the Spanish conquest of Peru Ollantaytambo served as a temporary capital for Manco Inca, leader of the native resistance against the conquistadors. He fortified the town and its approaches in the direction of the former Inca capital of Cusco, which had fallen under Spanish domination.  In 1536, on the plain of Mascabamba, near Ollantaytambo, Manco Inca defeated a Spanish expedition blocking their advance from a set of high terraces and flooding the plain. However despite his victory Manco Inca did not consider this position tenable and the following year he withdrew to the heavily forested site of Vilcabamba.

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