The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
October 31 - Ollytaytampo

This afternoon we take the train to the jumping-off point for Machu Picchu ... but we took the morning to see a bit of the town of Ollantaytampo. The weather, which has worked in our favor for most of the trip, looked a little iffy, so we opted not to try to climb into the fortress. So we wandered around, did a bit of shopping and just soaked up the local ambience.

They had a Sunday food market going on so the plaza was busy. Ollantaytampo is considered the best preerved aof all the Inca settlements. The old wallos of the houses are still standing and water still runs through original channels in the narrow streets that are believed to date from the 15th century. The economy is largely agricultural and little has changed here since the arrival of the original Spanish conquerors.

There is an interesting story regarding the fortress. The village's military fortification was so well planned that it took the Spanish by surprise when they arrived in search of Manco Inca during the 1536 uprising. Hernando Pizarro (a brother to Francisco) let a contingent of about 100 Spaniards and a number of Indians to the fort with the intention of capturing and executing the rebel leader. Chronicles say that as the Spaniards sneaked up to the fort before dawn, they looked up to see the silouettes of multitudes of Indian warriors ready to take them on. It is said they even saw Maco Inca directing troops from inside the Ollantaytambo complex, mounted on a captured horse.

Manco Inca's men had diverted the Patacancha river through some canals and opened barriers that allowed the water to rush out and flood the plain that the Europeans were crossing. However the Spaniards managed to escape to Cuzco where they recruited a force of 300 horsemen to return and confront Manco Inca. Outnumbered, he abandoned the walled city and fled. Construction of the fortress was never finished.

Our hotel was a healthy hike from the center of town, so we took some funky local transport (see the photos) down for a leisurely lunch before catching the train to Aguas Calientes.

In and around Ollaytampo

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