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Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo, Cusco

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Home » Cusco » Visit Cusco's most incredible archaeological sites » Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo, Cusco

Cusco is surrounded by the Inca culture and there is no destination that you cannot miss. This time we go to the corner of the Sacred Valley to one of the archaeological sites that dazzles with its great architecture and surrounds magic and mystery: Ollantaytambo.

In this article I will tell you a little of its history, where it is located, how to get to Ollantaytambo from Cusco, how to buy tickets for both Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, things we can buy and visit in Ollantaytambo village.

I will now begin to describe the history of this imposing archaeological center of Ollantaytambo:

Description and History of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is one of the unmissable destinations that you must visit, it is believed that this was a strategic place of refuge against the Spanish when they invaded Inca soil and plundered all the riches, although much time has passed it still retains its architecture as its houses, streets, and canals of the Inca period.

Ollantaytambo shows us a whole panorama of the Inca construction among them we can see their roads, bridges, platforms, irrigation systems, deposits, settlements, religious structure and palaces. The construction of the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo coincides with the mandate of the Inca governor Pachacutec.

The temple of Ollantaytambo is located at 2792 m and is at least 3500 years old, they consider that the construction was oriented towards the city of Cusco, since the architects sought to defend themselves from the Incas.

Once under Inca rule, this town was rebuilt with huge buildings and the Urubamba River valley was irrigated and supplied with terraces. This place served as a lodge for the Inca nobility and the yanacochas (people who served the Inca) were in charge of the work on the terraces of the place.

During the Spanish invasion, this place functioned as the temporary capital for Manco Inca (leader of the resistance against the Spaniards) who saw how his people were under the domination of the Spaniards and confronted them by defeating them.

Manco Inca blocked the advance of the Spaniards from the platforms and flooded the plain, however, he did not stay on site and retreated to the Vilcabamba area; in 1540 Ollantaytambo was assigned as an encomienda to Hernando Pizarro.

Architecturally, it has well-crafted stones that surprise with their artwork, especially the Temple of the Sun and the giant monoliths.

What does Ollantaytambo mean?

  • According to several researchers, Ollantaytambo has an Aymara origin and comes from the word Ullantawi, which means "to look down" or "viewpoint".
  • However, the Quechua language was widely spoken in this area so it was changed to Ullantay, in the place were built tambos or lodgings in the square so it came to be called Ullantay Tampu, then called in Spanish as Ollantaytambo.

Where is Ollantaytambo located?

The archaeological park of Ollantaytambo is located 80 km from Cusco, in the province of Urubamba and about 40 km from the citadel of Machu Picchu.

How to get to Ollantaytambo from Cusco?

You can do it by public transport from the city of Cusco, for this you must go to Pavitos street with Grau Avenue (reference is next to the Universidad Tecnológica de los Andes UTEA) from there leave the cars in the direction of Ollantaytambo.

The trip takes 1 hour and 40 minutes and the average fare is 10 soles.

What to see and do in Ollantaytambo?

Ollantaytambo to this day is one of the imposing constructions, as it was a military, religious and agricultural center in the Inca empire; it was built on rocks that were brought from a quarry about 6 km away, according to the river that was there they diverted it with canals around it.

The archaeological site is made up of fountains, temples and impressive terraces, reminding us that our Inca culture was very rich and advanced for its time. Below I detail everything we can see:

Visit the Pinkuylluna

If you are in Ollantaytambo, you must visit Pinkuylluna which is a set of agricultural deposits located in the middle of the cliff, generally we will see them from the town that are located at the top of the mountain.

To climb to these deposits is between 20 to 30 minutes of walking, the route is very nice and offers a panoramic view of the town and the fortress.

Pinkuylluna Ollantaytambo

The beautiful streets of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is one of the few Inca cities almost intact and inhabited, its streets have preserved their shape as such since Inca times, which makes it unique.

Its streets are small and all cobblestone, it feels as if time has not passed by, the squares and the surrounding environment is traditional, even through its gutters still running water, showing that it continues to retain that functionality and form.

Ñaupa Church of Ollantaytambo - Ancient Inca Temple

It is a little unknown place, it is lit between the mountain. Here is housed a huaca or sacred stone carved in a fine rock that resembles an altar petrio in the direction of the milky way, we also see a portal or dimensional gateway.

In Ñaupa church means "Old Temple" this was a ceremonial center where rituals dedicated to the Moon, the Sun, the Apus (mountain gods), the mallquis or known as mummies of the ancestors were performed.

In the place we can see four very important points, where we will see entrances or niches that still conserve their color. The beauty of this place is that you can hear a different sound in these entrances, that is why it is believed to be a portal.

It is said that in this huaca was made to grant the key to the southern cross, after having the connection with the key you can enter the door carved into the rock, once there you will feel a different energy and it will be a unique experience that you will live.

Here you will find Inca terraces, stairs, carved doors, chakanas or Andean crosses, very fine carved seats, an altar to observe the stars or the galaxy among others. The fantastic thing about all this is that there are not many tourists and it is free.

Naupa Iglesia De Ollantaytambo

The undisputed flavor of Ollantaytambo's Artisanal Beer

The Cervecería del Valle is located in the town center of Pachar a few minutes from Urubamba, is one of the best places to try craft beer made with the best ingredients. Customer service is available on weekends from 2:00 in the afternoon.

Trekking Inti Punku or Sun Gate of Ollantaytambo

It is located in Ollantaytambo exactly in Kachi Qhata (salt slope), to get here we must walk about 3 hours on foot from the village. From this place you will be able to observe the fauna that surrounds the place.

This was a strategic point of astronomical observation and control site for the routes to Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle.

Inti Punku Ollantaytambo
Inti Punku Ollantaytambo

Staying in Ollantaytambo

Staying in this beautiful city is a new sensation, as it allows you to listen to the birds singing, watch the sunset. Like all tourist destinations the lodging options will be many, therefore, you would have to choose between hotels, backpkers, hotels or AirBnB, the place where you rest will depend on what you are looking for.

Where to have lunch in Ollantaytambo?

Eating in Peru is the best destination, no matter where you are and Ollantaytambo is no exception, it should be noted that here you will find places with different prices, dishes and drinks. The place that has all the flavors is the Ollantaytambo Market, which still retains that traditional flavor and you can find dishes with different prices.

But we also have other options like going to La Esquina Café place to eat a dessert, have a sandwich or whatever you want, and if you are looking for something better then you can go to El Albergue which shows us a variety of dishes, cocktails and more.

Actually, the place you go to will depend on the experience you want, that does not mean that the cheapest ones are less rich, no; however, each place has a different seasoning and you are obliged to try the mixture of flavors.

kwik e mart of Ollantaytambo

If you are a fan of the biggest and funniest series of The Simpsons, you will find this store in the city of Ollantaytambo that sells various products and some with themes related to the characters of this series.

This store is a reality, since it has the same characteristics and the nice thing is that you can take souvenir photos.

Kwik E Mart Ollantaytambo
Kwik E Mart Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo Train Station

If you want to visit the citadel of Machu Picchu by train from Ollantaytambo is one of the best experiences, we have two train options IncaRail and PeruRail are the companies that offer this service.

Where is it?

The train station is located on Ferrocarril Avenue in the city of Ollantaytambo.

How to get there?

To get to the train station we must go to Av. ferrocarril and go down the entire avenue until you reach the train station, you can do it on foot which will take you about 10 minutes and in mototaxi the average cost will be 1 sol.

What to see and do in the Ollantaytambo Archaeological Center (Ollantaytambo Ruins)?

The archaeological center of Ollantaytambo has beautiful lithic structures, because the place was a military scenario happened in 1537 that is why its buildings are damaged or destroyed, but the place continues to retain the mystery and magic that kept centuries ago.

Platforms of Ollantaytambo

  • Ollantaytambo has a set of parallel terraces, which were made in order to improve the agricultural system, engineering that was designed by the Incas.
  • This system of scaffolding is 700 m long and 60 m wide with a depth of 15 m.
  • It was built in the direction of the sun and the natural environment.

Intihuatana of Ollantaytambo

  • Also known as Inca sundial.
  • It is located above the Temple of the Sun and was used as an observatory.
  • Architecturally, the Intihuatana is a high wall with security holes up to 80 cm deep on its sides.
Intihuatana Ollantaytambo
Intihuatana Ollantaytambo

Real Casa del Sol

  • La Rea casa del sol or fortress integrates 17 superimposed terraces, with straight and wide platforms facing the square and the town.
  • This place preserves the Inca urban planning.
Royal House Of The Sun Ollantaytambo
Royal House Of The Sun Ollantaytambo

The Temple of the Sun of Ollantaytambo

  • It is one of the most important sites of the whole tour, since its wall composed of six monoliths is majestic and very perfect.
  • Currently, the archaeological remains are almost destroyed; however, there are still remains that we can see.
  • According to scholars, this fragment of 6 reddish-colored pieces and the ribbons found between them are exact and were part of the Temple of the Sun.
Temple Of The Sun In Ollantaytambo
Temple Of The Sun In Ollantaytambo

The Monumental Gateway and the Enclosure of the 10 Nacelles

  • It is believed that it belonged to the Royal House of the Sun, since the wall is composed of two stone walls that give shape to a room.
  • Today, these archaeological remains are incomplete, since only the foundations can be seen, because the Spaniards were the cause of this loss.
Las 10 Hornacinas Ollantaytambo
The 10 Hornacinas Ollantaytambo

Baño de Ñusta de Ollantaytambo Historia

  • Este es otro de los sitios más impresionantes que encontrarás aquí, podrás ver una fuente con triple salida en sus rectas quebradas y paralelas.
  • Se le conoce también como la fuente litúrgicas porque se ubica en una de las ciudadelas más importantes del imperio incaico.
  • Representación de la ingeniería hidráulica que se puede ver en sus templos, fuentes de agua o pacchas.
Ollantaytambo Nusta Bathhouse
Ollantaytambo Nusta Bathhouse

How to buy a tourist ticket for Ollantaytambo?

To purchase a BTC (Cusco Tourist Ticket) we must purchase it in the city of Cusco in two places: the first you can go to 103 El Sol Avenue, Cusco (Tourist Galleries), and the second is to purchase it at the same archaeological site Ollantaytambo, but when you buy it you have to know what kind of ticket you will buy, because there are two types, then I will explain:

  • Integral Cusco Tourist Ticket (BTCI), valid for 10 days at a cost of 130 Peruvian soles, takes you through three circuits that allows you to know the Circuit I: Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. Circuit II: Qoricancha Site Museum, Regional Historical Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Pachacuteq Monument, Museum of Popular Art, Qosqo Center of Native Art, P. A of Tipon and P. A of Pikillaqta. Circuit III: P. A of Ollantaytambo, P. A of Pisaq, P. A of Chinchero and Moray.
  • Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket I (BTCPI), is valid for 1 day at a cost of 70 Peruvian soles and takes you to Circuit I: P. A. of Saqsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay.
  • Partial Cusco Tourist Ticket II (BTCPII), is valid for 2 days at a cost of 70 Peruvian soles and takes you to Circuit II: Qoricancha Site Museum, Regional Historical Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Pachacuteq Monument, Museum of Popular Art, Qosqo Center of Native Art, P. A of Tipon and the P. A of Pikillaqta.
  • Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket III (BTCPIII), is valid for 2 days with a cost of 70 Peruvian soles and takes you to Circuit III: P. A of Ollantaytambo, P. A of Pisaq, P. A of Chinchero and Moray.

This ticket does not include the entrance to Machu Picchu, it can be used only once, does not include transportation, guide and take into account the days of validity.

Buy a tour of the Sacred Valley and OIlantaytambo with Terandes.com

To visit the Archaeological Complex of Ollantaytambo, the tourism agency Terandes.com has some packages that take you to visit these places and others, which will leave you with the best experiences.

Curiosities of the archaeological center of Ollantaytambo

This enchanting valley shows us an endless number of beautiful things, it is probably one of the cities that still maintains that Inca air, therefore, there are several hidden curiosities that we have to discover them:

  • It is a strategic military, religious and agricultural center
  • The town of Ollantaytambo is full of Inca constructions.
  • You can still see in the mountains the colcas, enclosures and the Intipunku (Sun Gate).
  • The villagers still celebrate a festival that is similar to Inti Raymi, it is Ollantay Raymi, made in the same archaeological city and is based on the story of the Ollantay drama.
  • Beyond Ollantaytambo is one of the most sacred sites, known as Ñaupa Iglesia or ancient Inca temple.

Tips for traveling from Cusco to Ollantaytambo

To visit these sites you should know some tips that will help you to make your trip more productive and make the most of your time:

  • First get your documents ready, your entrance ticket to Ollantaytambo.
  • Try to go early to the bus stop where the buses leave to Ollantaytambo, so you have more time to visit the archaeological site, the town and other sites that surround it and even give you time to go to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu.
  • Get your camera ready because along the way you will find beautiful places to capture them.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen and hiking shoes, as you will be walking all the time on this tour.
  • Wear waterproof clothing in case of rain.

Finally, the Ollantaytambo Archeological Complex is one of the Inca architectural sites that still preserves its architecture and was declared a National Cultural Heritage Site by National Directorial Resolution No. 395/INC of May 27, 2002.

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