Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 meters (9,160 feet) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings and as one of the most common starting points for the three-day, four-night hike known as the Inca Trail.
The town of Ollantaytambo is located along the Patakancha River, close to the point where it joins the Urubamba River. The main settlement is located on the left margin of the Patakancha with a smaller compound called 'Araqhama on the right margin. The main Inca ceremonial center is located beyond 'Araqhama on a hill called Cerro Bandolista. There are several Inca structures on the surroundings, what follows is a brief description of the main sites.
he main settlement at Ollantaytambo has an orthogonal layout with four longitudinal streets crossed by seven parallel streets.At the center of this grid, the Incas built a large plaza that may have been up to four blocks large; it was open to the east and surrounded by halls and other town blocks on its other three sides.Inca buildings to the north of the plaza were built out of unworked fieldstones while those to the west and to the south were made with cut and fitted stones. All blocks on the southern half of the town were built to the same design; each comprised two kancha, walled compounds with four one-room buildings around a central courtyard. Buildings in the northern half are more varied in design; however, most are in such a bad condition that their original plan is hard to establish.
Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America.Its layout and buildings have been altered to different degrees by later constructions, for instance, on the southern edge of the town an Inca esplanade with the original entrance to the town was rebuilt as a Plaza de Armas surrounded by colonial and republican buildings.The plaza at the center of the town also disappeared as several buildings were built over it in colonial times.
'Araqhama is a western prolongation of the main settlement, across the Patakancha River; it features a large plaza, called Manyaraki, surrounded by constructions made out of adobe and semi-cut stones. These buildings have a much larger area than their counterparts in the main settlement, they also have very tall walls and oversized doors. To the south there are other structures, but smaller and built out of fieldstones. 'Araqhama has been continuously occupied since Inca times, as evidenced by the Roman Catholic church on the eastern side of the plaza. To the north of Manyaraki there are several sanctuaries with carved stones, sculpted rock faces, and elaborate waterworks, they include the Templo de Agua and the Baño de la Ñusta.