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Sacred Valley of the Incas

The Sacred Valley of the Incas

The area of the valley between Pisac and Ollantaytambo is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a long narrow valley which, in the southern region goes back up to Urcos and towards the north, crossing Ollantaytambo before it finally reaches the citadel of Machu Picchu.Over the years, the power of the Incas became more and more firmly implanted. The terraces are a testimony of the vast production of food, and the Ollantaytambo ruins reflect the ambitious plans of the leaders of Cuzco.The best time to visit is April-May or September-October , the high season is June-Agust. The rainy season , from October to March is cheaper and pleasant enough.


Pisac and its citadel

Pisac is approximately 32 kilometers from the city of Cuzco. In this area there are traditional walls of carved stone, large homes (casonas) and ritual buildings, with a complex structure of terraces and irrigation channels. Pisaq is well known for its crafts market that open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays only.The walk up to the ruins begins from the plaza, walk along the path, which crosses the terraced gardens. The beauty of the scenery is spectacular , climbing then to the central part of the ruins : The Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon and the carved stone referred to as Intihuatana express evident astronomical concerns. The area reserved for what could be called storehouses or granaries demonstrate the importance the Incas granted to the conservation of the crops.


From Pisac to Urubamba

From Pisac, following the Vilcanota River towards the west, the narrow route between the river and the hills passes through the towns of Calca, Yucay and Urubamba before arriving at Ollantaytambo. Yucay is associated with some important events in Incan and colonial history. In the spacious Plaza de Armas we find a beautiful, impressive tree, the pisonay, whose leafy branches and beautiful flowers grant the town an air of festivity and elegance. The ruins of the Palace of the Inca Huayna Capac can also be found in this area. Urubamba is not located far from here.Like many places along the valley Urubamba is in a fine setting with snow-capped peaks in view, it has many restaurants and pleasant dining areas with reasonable prices. The nearby White Mountain range provides the area with scenery of extraordinary beauty. The town offers the visitor a wide range of possibilities for rest and lodging, and includes a number of hotels and other lodging houses.



The town of Ollantaytambo is located on the opposite end of the Pisac Valley. The flights of terraces leading up above the town are suberb, and so are the curving terraces following the contours of the rocks overlooking the Urubamba. This was one of the last areas in which construction was performed by the Incas before the arrival of the Spaniards. Many of the buildings begun in pre-Hispanic times were left unfinished. The abandoned stones and unfinished walls remain as testimonies of the battle in which Manco Inca faced the Spanish conquistadors. Overcome by the invaders, the Incas fled to the Vilcabamba jungle, area that served as a final refuge for what remained of the political legacy of the Incas.



Chinchero is located between Urubamba and Cuzco. This area is well known for its ruins and for the lovely church where one can find many paintings from the Cuzco school. It is also an appropriate region to view the splendid snow-capped peaks in the surrounding area.  The church houses works of art and mural paintings by Diego Cusi Guamàn, as well as several canvases by other artists. The main altarpiece is from the seventeenth century and represents the Virgin of Montserrat, to whom the church is dedicated.


Maras salt flats and the circular ruins in Moray

Maras, from which one can reach the salt flats and the Moray ruins, is located on the northwestern side before entering the city of Cuzco.The salt flats display a spectacle of unusual beauty. Located on a wide-open hill above the Urubamba Valley, the salt water runs along channels, which extend through the flooded lands and follow a more or less rectangular pattern, depending on the variations in the land. The water, which is exposed to the sun, leaves salt on the bed. Viewed from the peak, the myriad of rectangles look Like an enormous painting designed by nature.Inland, not far from Maras, one can find the Moray ruins, there are three "colosseums" , used by the Inkas as a sort of open-air crop laboratory ,the terraces arranged in concentric circles and spread out at intervals from the lower to the upper region. are reminiscent of a Greek theatre. For this reason, it is not clear exactly what role they played. The structure of these terraces seems to suggest agricultural activity which employed the air circulation within the circular area and the advantages offered by this type of construction for employing ram water as well as water from nearby regions.

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Ruins of Pisaq



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Market of Pisaq



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Maras salt flats



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Ruins of Moray

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Map of the Sacred Valley of the Incas