Peru - Cusco's Sacred Valley, Part 2

    Andrys Basten, photos taken 5/22/97

The Fortress-Temple of Ollantaytambo

At foot of the fortress
Peru can seem to be all steps and terraces at times.(169k)

Click on any photo for the enlarged version. (142k)

Another view from below

It's no wonder that Pizarro failed to capture Manco Inca here in 1536. The Spaniards were met by showers of spears and boulders.

    Insight Guide tells us the Incas diverted the Patacaucha river through some water canals and then opened barriers, allowing the water to rush out and flood the plain they were crossing.

    The temple areas are at the top of the terracing. Extremely well-built walls were under construction but never completed, though some think the structures were broken up by the Spaniards.  According to Lonely Planet's guide, the stone used for these uncompleted buildings was quarried from the mountainside 4 miles away, high above the opposite bank of the Urubamba.

    The workers actually left the blocks by the side of that river and then diverted the river channel around the blocks so they would not have to haul the stones through the river itself, before getting them up very steep grades.

    Near the top but to the left of the terraces you can see, in the enlarged version, the much-photographed 6 granite megaliths.

    I was struck by how some visual aspects of this place were reminiscent of areas of rural China. A good example of that is a photo, by Martin Gray, taken from an area above and across from it. This is from his 1998 Latin-America journal

Near top of Ollantaytambo We're now just below the top (see photo above, where people are standing against the sky).

    At the left, below, is a portion of the village of Ollantaytambo. Ahead is an interesting gateway.

After I get the next page up, you'll see some good examples of the exquisite stone work we were passing at this point.   (122k)

From the other side

This is a view from the other side of the 'doorway'   (97k)

    As always, with the Inca builders, stones are joined together by careful shaping alone, with no mortar used, and foundations built in this manner have stood through centuries of ground instability where structures built by the Spanish have fallen.

    It's said that the trapezoid shaping of openings when laying the stones, whether for doors or windows, are a factor.

Note, if enlarging this photo, note the little structure on the right-hand side, in the middle (vertically) of the photograph.  To give a closer perspective than the enlargement's, here's a nice closeup of that structure by Twila Bing at UCLA, which shows an interesting stairway and connected winding-wall that looks like a tiny version of The Great Wall of China.   Actually, except for its width (where the people are walking), it resembles Incan canals - ( bookmark my page to return here, however ).


Next, more Ollantaytambo. . .

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