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Information about Ollantaytambo


The whole complex is another National Archaeological Park. It is located in the Ollantaytambo district, province of Urubamba. The town is about 76 Kms. (47.2 miles) away from Qosqo by the road Chinchero - Urubamba and about 68 Kms. (42.2 miles) by railway; at an altitude of 2700 mts. (8856 ft.).

It is a very vast complex which central part is in the town and its surroundings; traveling from Qosqo, from Pachar there is a large amount of farming terraces that are already part of the complex. Those terraces are deteriorated and most of them abandoned; it is sad to observe that the enormous work for constructing them, today is not appraised with some minimum conservation policies. The water that irrigated them does not flow any more. Their stone aqueducts that were a master work of engineering were extended by many kilometers; but, today they do not exist any more in most of the cases. The reason for that, is simply that today no one is preoccupied with keeping them and because we had three centuries in which conquerors were not interested in agriculture but only in mining gold and silver.

Farther down are the strongholds of Choqana on the left bank of the Urubamba River, and Inkapintay on the right bank; they were part of the complex protective system for the Inkan urban core. Advancing downstream are the foundations of an Inkan Bridge, its central base is impressive and was made with huge stone blocks. Before that central base there are two enormous boulders placed for protecting it efficaciously as a mole breaking waters of the river into two. Likewise, on both river banks are the two solid lateral bases of that bridge. Originally, that was a suspension bridge made with braided fibers of "ichu" the local wild bunch grass, or maguey (Agave americana). Because those materials do not last forever the bridge must have been renewed annually. Going on by road, about ½ Km. away from the bridge is the great ancient main gate of the Ollantaytambo Inkan City; it was part of a surrounding wall and is named today as " Llaqta-Punku" (Town Gate).

Ollantaytambo is a compound Quechua word that is derived from " Ollanta" that is a personal name, and " Tambo" that is a Spanish form of " Tanpu" that refers about a city that offered lodgings, food and comfort for travelers. "Ollanta" is the name of an Inka Captain whose history was kept as an oral tradition and written as drama by Antonio Valdez, a priest from Urubamba, by the middle of the XVIII century; it was adapted for a theatrical play and opened in 1780. It is apparently since then when "Ollantaytambo" (Ollanta's tambo) began being used to name the town where events of the drama were carried out. The Ollantay Drama is considered as a classical work of Quechua literature and tells the story of a captain named Ollanta, extraneous to the Cusquenian nobility and who formed part of Inka Pachakuteq's army. He was distinguished among the others because of his bravery and great skill, but had a secret love affair with the monarch's daughter named Kusi Qoyllur. When trying to marry her officially his request was considered illegal because the rules in force forbade marriage between persons of different social status. Disappointed the young captain went deeply into Ollantaytambo and incited its population to rebellion against the imperial army, causing a war for a whole decade. He was finally captured thanks to a trick of captain Rumiñawi who appeared as having been vexed and thrown out from Qosqo and succeeded convincing Ollanta in order to get asylum; but, during the night when everyone slept he opened the city gates allowing the Qosqo army's entrance and the capture of Ollanta who was taken

the capital. Fortunately for him, when he arrived in Qosqo the Inka Pachakuteq was already dead, his son being the new sovereign who was told about the true story, and with wise clemency allowed the marriage of the two lovers from whose old relationship a girl had been born and whose name was Ima Sumaq. It is a story with a happy ending that nowadays is very popular in Peruvian schools that in many cases stimulate its performance.

Ollantaytambo was a very important fortified city, built as a "tanpu" and also in order to enable control of the roads toward the "Antisuyo" (jungle). According to many historians also in order to allow protection of the great Inkan Capital from attacks of the "Antis", their worst enemies. Today, its name as "fortress" is common, which in practice is improper because it did not have just a warlike or protective duty; but, that of a complex city with an ample urban sector and religious temples. As a fortified city, it had some protective elements, among them a protective wall with few entrances surrounding the town, many "pukaras" or strongholds and watch towers strategically located. Besides, for the noble population dwelling in this city there was a very ample and well planned urban sector, a plaza surrounded by important buildings and toward the town's south an impressive "Kallanka"; that is, a building which dimensions are colossal and completely roofed. It served as a lodge and perhaps also as barracks for the numerous army of the region.

Some very imaginative experts hold that it was a school, a hospital different some a jail or a precipice; according to the archaeology and the architecture Inca was a "Qollqa" or "Pirwa"; it is to say, a granary or store for the food, clothes and weapon of the local army.