Ollantaytambo was one of the towns that entered under the dominion of the Incas. The city served as an important checkpoint. According to Inca laws, these lands were reserved for the dynasty of Inca rulers.

Learn all about the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo in Cusco, Peru.


  • What does Ollantaytambo mean?
  • When was Ollantaytambo founded?
  • What is the historical importance of Ollantaytambo?
  • How is the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo?
  • What is the town of Ollantaytambo like?
  • What places to visit in Ollantaytambo?
  • The Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo
  • The platforms of Ollantaytambo
  • What else to see in Ollantaytambo?


What does Ollantaytambo mean?

According to various studies, Ollantaytambo is a word of Aymara origin (language of the high plateau of Peru) that would mean “Place of observation from below.”

In Ollantaytambo, culture and history combine deeply, producing the admiration of the people who visit it.

If you decide to tour the city of Ollantaytambo on your trip to Machu Picchu, you will enjoy not only green and beautiful landscapes but also the daily life of the inhabitants of this ancient human settlement.

According to oral tradition, Ollantaytambo owes its name to the Inca drama ‘Ollantay’, which starred the Inca general ‘Ollanta’.

When was Ollantaytambo founded?

In the mid-fifteenth century, Emperor Pachacutec destroyed the town that settled there to found Ollantaytambo and incorporate it into the Inca Empire.

Pachacutec ordered the construction of the main buildings of the current archaeological site of Ollantaytambo.

Pachacutec is known as the Inca builder. Under his rule, the Incas also built the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu.

Until today, the town of Ollantaytambo retains its urban organization as well as many Inca walls.

What is the historical importance of Ollantaytambo?

Ollantaytambo was an important religious, agricultural and also military center. Due to its strategic location during the conquest it served as a defense post against the Spaniards.

In 1537 the Spanish conquerors clashed in Ollantaytambo with the last Incas who resisted the European invasion.

The resistance of Manco Inca could not stop the Spanish attack so they had to flee to the city of Vilcabamba, in the jungle of Cusco.

The city was in the hands of the invaders and being a ‘encomienda’ ready at the hands of Hernando Pizarro.

How is the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo?

Ollantaytambo is located high in the mountains from where the town is guarded as well as the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Ollantaytambo has some of the best construction work done by the Incas such as the Temple of the Sun.

It was long believed that the city was a kind of defense fortress. However, the quality of work suggests that it also served as a resting place for the Inca and his family.

What is the town of Ollantaytambo like?


The town of Ollantaytambo retains its well-organized Inca urban layout with a polygonal design. The square is located in the center of the same city.

At present, the space occupied by the town of Ollantaytambo is a fraction that it had in ancient times.

The south side of the town of Ollantaytambo shows a higher quality construction. The north side, on the other hand, has lower quality buildings.

Currently, the town has various tourist services such as hotels, restaurants, cafes and many places to visit.


What places to visit in Ollantaytambo?


The archaeological site of Ollantaytambo has several constructions such as the Ñusta Bath, the Royal House of the Sun, the Monumental Cover and many others.

However, the most popular and imposing buildings in Ollantaytambo are the Temple of the Sun and the beautiful andenería system.

On top of the mountains that surround Ollantaytambo you can visit buildings called llamadas Colcas ’. These structures served as warehouses for commodities such as corn or potatoes.


The Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo


To the west of the Ollantaytambo you can find a construction known as ‘Aracama’. In this place is the Temple of the Sun.

The Temple of the Sun is a unique building in the Sacred Valley.

It is built on top of a pyramid of terraces that lead to the Main Square.

In the Temple of the Sun 6 monoliths survive that form one of the most impressive buildings of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The Temple of the Sun must have been a ceremonial place. It is also believed that they stopped its construction during the Spanish invasion.


The platforms of Ollantaytambo


The agricultural terraces of Ollantaytambo are one of the best examples of agricultural engineering developed by the Incas.

They are 700 meters long, 58 meters wide and 15 meters deep. Everything is built in relation to the position of the sun and the natural environment.

The platforms create particular microclimates that allow the cultivation of different products in higher or lower areas.



What else to see in Ollantaytambo?

In Ollantaytambo you can also visit the abandoned quarries where the construction material of the city was extracted.


From Ollantaytambo you can take walks to Pumamarka or visit the Yanacocha lagoon.

From Ollantaytambo the trains leave in the direction of Machu Picchu. Visiting the archeological site or the Inca people is a good option before knowing the Wonder of the World.

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