Dating back to the reign of 15th-century Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, the town of Ollantaytambo contains some of Peru’s best-preserved Inca ruins.
Strategically located in the far western reaches of the Sacred Valley, around a 1.5-hour drive from Cusco, Ollantaytambo was home to the Inca elite of the time. Massive reconstruction efforts undertaken by Emperor Pachacuti following the destruction of the original town yielded the architecture and innovations that define the site today.
The town’s primary attraction is the Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the settlement in a section known as the Temple Hill. Though originally built for purposes of worship by Emperor Pachacuti, the fortress served as the last Inca stronghold against the Spanish Conquistadors and has the distinction of being the site of one of the only battles in which the Inca successfully repelled Spanish forces. Not far from the fortress is the Wall of the Six Monoliths, a towering section of wall composed of six large segments. Construction of the wall was abandoned before its completion for reasons that remain unknown. Other nearby attractions include the Temple of the Sun and the Princess Baths, both of which feature examples of Inca carvings.
The town itself should not be undersold. A walk through the settlement provides an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of the town’s former inhabitants and offers visitors an intimate look at Ollantaytambo’s distinctive layout and dwellings. Noteworthy features include quarries, terraces, ceremonial grounds, and storehouses.