History buffs will get a real kick out of Ollantaytambo, a pretty town about 26 mi/42 km northwest of Cusco. Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, Ollantaytambo served as the royal estate and ceremonial center of the Inca ruler Pachacuti, who had previously conquered this region.

The town itself still serves as a living example of Inca urban planning, while the surrounding Inca terraces and Temple Hill provide more fine examples of Inca architecture. Ollantaytambo played an important role during the Spanish Conquest. It was here that Manco Inca Yupanqui successfully defended the Inca position against a Spanish expedition following the fall of Cusco, but later retreated to the greater security of Vilcabamba.

Visitors can easily spend a couple of days exploring the nearby archaeological sites and strolling around the town. The higher sites offer spectacular views of the mountains and valleys, while the streets of Ollantaytambo are home to pre-Columbian and colonial architecture, traditional markets and plenty of Andean character.

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