Ollantaytambo archaeological site

The archaeological site of Ollantaytambo was one of the most important citadels and religious centers of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It has temples, enclosures, shrines, platforms, water channels and covers made with stone blocks of hundreds of tons. In the 16th century, the war between the Incas and the Spanish caused damage to this place that served as an Inca fortress. However, today most of its structures can still be appreciated.

What is it?

The archaeological site of Ollantaytambo is an Inca citadel, temple, and fortress built in the mid-15th century by orders of Emperor Pachacutec (1418 – 1471). Its impressive architecture resembles Machu Picchu as it has fine carved stone structures of great dimensions. Its terraces, housing complexes and temples (Temple of the Sun) stand out. It is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Where it is located?

This archaeological site is located in the town of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Cusco – Peru).

How to get?

To get to the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, you must take a 61-kilometer road trip from the city of Cusco. This trip can be done with tourist transport. A good option is to take one of the public transport minivans that depart from ‘Pavitos’ street in the Historic Center of the city. The cost of the trip is 10 Peruvian soles (3 US dollars, approximately).

Map to get to Ollantaytambo

The archaeological site

The archaeological site of Ollantaytambo is divided into two sectors: the Qosqo Ayllu and the Araccama Ayllu. The first is made up of the town with its streets, terraces, squares, and others. The Araccama Ayllu is characterized by the presence of walls, squares, paths and, above all, platforms.

The most famous Inca monuments of Ollantaytambo are the following:

The Temple of the Sun – Imposing monument that was part of a larger structure that was dedicated to the cult of the sun. Currently it is made up of six pieces or monoliths that together form a single surprising building, assembled and polished with great quality. This construction is made with stone blocks of up to 40 tons. It is one of the most famous structures in Ollantaytambo.

The bath of the ñusta – Set of aqueducts and channels that end in a structure in the form of a fountain that would have served as baths of the Inca or the royal family of the emperor. It has three outlets that have dumped the same amount of water for hundreds of years. It is known as ‘Bath of the ñusta’ because it would be the personal bath of the Inca’s daughter, the ‘ñusta’.

La real casa del sol – Set of walls and doorways that welcome visitors to Ollantaytambo in the religious and urban sector. It is made up of up to seventeen polished stone structures of great size and quality. It is one of the most photographed buildings in Ollantaytambo. From there you have a privileged view of the town and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The monumental portalthe enclosure of the 10 niches – This structure made up of high-quality walls and a set of ten niches is the access door to the set of enclosures of the archaeological site. In Inca times it would have been decorated with pieces of gold and silver on the windows. Today, it is damaged in one of its corners. It is one of the most famous structures in the place.

The Choqana Forts – Set of walls and windows located outside the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, 2 kilometers towards the city of Cusco. During the Inca period it served as a lookout and checkpoint. It had ‘colcas’ warehouses, water tanks, viewpoints, and structures for surveillance.

Mañayraqay Square (K’uychipunku) – Square of rectangular shape that served as the main ceremonial and administrative center of Ollantaytambo. Its walls have niches and doorways, where gold and silver ornaments were placed. Its main function was religious. Its name is a Quechua word (language of the Incas) that means ‘Square of requests’.

The Inca town of Ollantaytambo

The current town of Ollantaytambo was built on the walls and streets of the ancient Inca town. Its urban design of narrow and cobbled streets maintains its Inca structure. Its Inca walls stand out, whose stone bases now resist modern brick or adobe walls. It is the only town in Peru that maintains its original Inca urban design.

How much?

The visit to the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo is done with the ‘Partial Cusco Tourist Ticket 3’, which also allows access to the archaeological sites of Pisac, Chinchero and Moray. The cost of this ticket is 70 Peruvian soles (22 US dollars, approximately).

Hours of Operation

The Ollantaytambo archaeological site is open to visitors every day of the year, from 7 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon.

Images of the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo - Valle Sagrado
Canales incas de regadío en Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo 2
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More information

The story goes that General Ollantay wanted to take the daughter of Emperor Pachacutec as his wife. However, due to his plebeian origin, the Inca refused and had his daughter named Cusi Coyllur imprisoned. General Ollantay rebels against the Inca and makes his defense in the fortress. Finally, after many years of fighting, Pachacutec and his son, the Inca and new emperor Túpac Yupanqui, decide to forgive Ollantay and his sister who end up together. This drama called ‘Ollantay’ is the first written in the Quechua language whose origin dates back to Inca times.

Ollantaytambo is also famous for other tourist attractions such as the Santiago Apóstol church, the Pinkuylluna archaeological site, the Catcco museum as well as its many bars, cafes and restaurants.

Tips for your visit

Ollantaytambo is located at 2,792 meters above sea level (9,160 feet (2.79 km)). At this altitude it is common to feel some ailments of the so-called ‘mountain sickness’ whose main symptoms are: nausea, fatigue and tiredness. To reduce these symptoms, it is ideal to drink plenty of water and avoid fatty foods and alcoholic beverages.

During your visit to the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, do not forget to bring with you: hat (or hat), sunscreen, raincoat, comfortable clothing (preferably sports), water, snacks, cash, and your identity documents. Help Explore on your own Audios