More Inca ruins—and a glimpse of a wedding
Ollantaytambo was the next stop on our day-long tour in Peru’s Sacred Valley. It’s the site of more Inca ruins and where we saw our first glimpse of a Peruvian wedding.
Inca emperor Pachacuti conquered and razed Ollantaytambo in the middle of the 15th century, and incorporated it and the surrounding region into his personal estate.
He then arranged a lavish rebuild of the town and extensive agricultural terracing and irrigation.
The terraces were a gold mine. No, they didn’t find gold there, but they found an ingenious way to get the best out of their crops. Ollantaytambo is surrounded by mountains, and the terraces were ‘stacked’ up the surrounding hillsides.
This technique made farming possible on otherwise unusable land, and created a microclimate at every level. The benefit of this was that plants normally native to lower altitudes could be grown up the mountainsides.
Herbert told us that the terracing at Ollantaytambo is considered to be finer work than at many other sites, because the walls are taller and are made of cut stone rather than rough fieldstones.
The Incas also built several storehouses on the nearby mountainsides to protect their produce from pests and decay.
I wasn’t thrilled with the pics I got of the storehouses because they are best seen from side on and I saw them straight on. But I found it fascinating that these stone structures were built so high up. Herbert said the position—well away from the community—allowed the incas to store their goods where the winds were stronger and the temperatures were lower. Almost like refrigeration.
Temple Hill, which is sometimes referred to as The Fortress, is the most important and most impressive part of the complex of ruins, and also one of the highest. Archaeologists believe the temple served a religious, rather than a military, function.
The temple was built of rose rhyolite, brought/dragged from a quarry about five kilometres away and on the other side of the Urubamba River. Herbert said there are many theories about how the Incas got the huge blocks up to Temple Hill, but there is a network of roads, ramps and slides that must have been used.
The temple is beautifully constructed. The stones are huge and have been expertly cut and fitted together. There are plenty of unfinished areas, including the Sun Temple with its Wall of Six Monoliths. Archaeologists believe the entire site was abandoned in its incomplete state.
The Incas built roads connecting Ollantaytambo with Pisac, where we were the day before, and Machu Picchu, where we’d visit in two days time.
But on this day, we drove on to visit Moray and Maras.