Photos, Artwork, & Musings on Life, Spirit, Entheogens, Time, & Travel

The Incan Fortress of Ollantaytambo

Many visitors to the Peruvian highlands concentrate their efforts on Machu Picchu and Cusco, and give less attention to the Sacred Valley and its extensive Incan ruins. The valley contains numerous historical sites, plus a vibrant living culture. The Valle Sagrado de los Incas resonates with peoples of Incan, mestizo, Hispanic, and other pre-Incan tribal heritages. The valley runs just north of Cusco and lies in between that huge and fascinating city and the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Some of the finest Incan stonework can be found at the amazing fortress at the edge of Ollantaytambo, one of the oldest and most Incan towns in Peru.






The “fortress” of Ollantaytambo is actually a religious structure, but it did function as a retreat from the attacks of the conquistadores in the 1500’s. It was originally built by Incan Emperor Pachacuti, and last held by Manco Inca, who, leading resistance forces against the Spanish, retreated to Ollantaytambo in January of 1537. The Spanish forces attacked on horseback, but Manco Inca’s band, in a technical tour de force, flooded the entire approach plain with water forcing the Spanish to retreat and regroup. The Battle of Ollantaytambo did not last long. The forces were about even at first – 30,000 on each side, plus about 100 Spanish led by Hernando Pizarro. He returned with reinforcements, but Manco Inca had wisely retreated on into the jungle beyond the Sacred Valley, where the Inca rebellion centered itself until eventual defeat.

The scale of the terracing here is huge. Look closely in these photos to see people climbing slowly up the tiny human-scale stairs.

At the top is an unfinished temple of some of the most exquisite stonework remaining from the Inca times. The Sun Temple is made with cut and fitted stones of a slightly pink or coral color.

In this photo, I’m standing in front of the “Wall of the Six Monoliths,” with its amazing slender stone sections fit expertly in between larger slabs, all beautifully carved and smoothed. This work was never completed, probably due to the Spanish invasion.




There are several Incan fountains, still functioning, at the base of the fortress area. See my earlier post on these types of fountains and waterworks.


7 responses

  1. these pics are incredible. i cant believe this isnt a featured article!!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    • Thanks much for your kind comment!

      March 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

  2. How have I missed this ?!? Wonderful post – I had read your other one on the fountains, but had missed the other posts. Settling in for a good read – thank you!

    March 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    • I hope you enjoy the reads! Good luck on your trip.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

      • I found I was rushing through it so I wanted to wait until I could commit a couple of hours…

        March 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

  3. Nice post which takes me back down memory lane. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:40 am

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for checking it out.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

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