Ollantaytambo is an Inca archaeological ruin and town located at the western end of the Sacred Valley at an altitude of 2,792 mt or 9,160 feet. The busride from Cusco lasts around 2 hr. The town is located along the Patacancha river. Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacutec who conquered the region, he built the town and its ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquering, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays it´s an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings and as one of the most common starting points for the four-day, three-night hike known as the Inca Trail.
The village is located at the bottom of spectacular Inca ruins (entrance with the Tourist Ticket ‘Boleto Turistico’). The temple area is at the top of steep terracing which helped to provide excellent defences. Stone used for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba river, an incredible achievemnt involving the efforts of thousands of workers. The complex was still under construction at the time of the conquest and was never completed.
Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Its layout and buildings have been altered to different degrees by later constructions, for instance, on the southern edge of the town an Inca esplanade with the original entrance to the town was rebuilt as a plaza de armas surrounded by colonial and republican buildings.The plaza at the center of the town also disappeared as several buildings were built on top of it in colonial times.
There are several Inca structures on the surroundings, what follows is a brief description of the main sites. 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.
Inca buildings to the north of the plaza were built out of unworked fieldstones while those to the west and to the south were made with cut stones. All blocks on the southern half of the town were built to the same design; each comprised two walled compounds with four one-room buildings around a central courtyard. Buildings in the northern half are more varied in design; however, most are in such a bad condition that their original design is lost. A typical Inca doorway is still used in the town.
History says that after Manco Inca was defeated by the Spanish at Sacsayhuaman following the unsuccessful siege of Cusco in 1536, he retreated to Ollantaytambo. Francisco Pizarro’s younger brother Hernando led a force of 70 cavalry, 30 foot soldiers and a large contingent of natives to capture Manco Inca. The Inca’s forces, joined by neighbouring jungle tribes, rained down showers of arrows, spears and rocks upon the unfortunate Spanish troops. The Inca’s flooded the plains below their stronghold making it difficult for the horses to manoeuvre, forcing Hernando, to retreat. Ollantaytambo became the only place ever to have resisted attacks from the Spanish.
However, their victory was short-lived when the Spanish returned with four times their previous force. Manco Inca retreated to his jungle stronghold in Vilcabamba and Ollantaytambo fell into the hands of the Spanish.