Peru wedding and honeymoon, 1999. Seattle reception, 2000.
Ollantaytambo is home to one of three major Inca sites that we visited. Many guidebooks state that it was a fortress. It was a site of a few battles, including a stunning defeat of the Spaniards by Manco Inca in 1536. Though, it surely must have been built for other purposes as well.
There are a couple temples located within the ruins. The Sun Temple, in particular, amazed us. A nearby steep mountain peak was scaled by the Inca so that they could chisel out a profile of a face. On the winter solstice (June 21 in the southern hemisphere), the sun aligns directly with the eye of the profile through a window across the valley at the ruins and onto an altar. I can't imagine how they were able to even reach where the profile is located without modern climbing safety eqipment.
No less stunning is the fact that all the rock used for the terracing at Ollantaytambo was quarried from a mountain top on the opposite side of the valley 6km away. These are huge granite blocks that were sized, shaped and polished at the quarry, brought down a mountain, then the river was diverted so the blocks could be crossed, lugged up a hill and set into place so perfectly that mortar is not necessary. The engineering of this civilization was extraordinary.
But back to Manco Inca...yes, this place would be a good place to set up an armed defense. The Spaniards were not able to penetrate the steep terracing while being showered by rocks and boulders. Manco Inca was also to use the intricate water channels to flood the plain below, further hampering the cavalry.
When you travel in a foreign country long enough, you start to notice the same tourists everywhere you go. These three from China were our shadow for a while. They were definitely good for the local economy.