Inca Citadel of Ollantaytambo
Trip Start Feb 04, 2010
94Trip End Feb 12, 2011
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The town of Ollantaytambo retains its rural village ambiance due to its narrow, Inca designed cobblestone streets arranged like a spider's web spun around the main plaza. Children could be seen running amok while playing with balloons and women were selling maize and popped corn from baskets. The authenticity of this scene - its normalcy - seems to prevail in spite of regular tour buses crossing through the central Plaza de Armas to deliver tourists to the train station for onward transport to Machu Picchu (the train departs from Ollantaytambo rather than Cuzco during rainy season) or to climb the ruins of the old Inca fortress overlooking the town. Many locals carry on their time-honored lives in spite of the influx of visitors, carrying on their daily lives in ancestral stone block houses, plowing fields with oxen and wearing traditional clothing. Notably, women wore flowing skirts and white hats while carrying brightly coloured woven sacks over their shoulders.
The Ollantaytambo ruins were once a stronghold for the Incas, albeit short-lived, until Spanish conquistadors arrived on the scene in a major battle during 1536. In addition to standard warfare of the day - spears, arrows and boulders - being hurled towards the Spaniards, the victorious soldiers of the Inca fortress altered their water channels thereby flooding the valley below and causing the Spanish conquistadors to get bogged down causing a retreat, at least, for the interim.
During our visit, walk around the remaining walls and structures, the scene was fairly quiet except for the occasional whistle from security guards meant to ward off oblivious tourists from walking on the delicate ruins or wandering across roped-off sections. Across the valley, a second set of walls and ruins can also be visited, our hike up to them was accompanied by two local dogs that seemed to be planning to latch onto any passers-by.