Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peru, the Sacred Valley

 After Pisac it's on to Olantaytambo.  As one of the Sacred Valley sites it is an Inca site with huge stone temples, terraced gardens and incredible views from the top of the temple.  The town that lives at the base of the mountain temple tells of how the Spanish invaded, the Inca fled over the Inca Trail and Olantaytambo was a strong hold for a very long time.  The history is incredible.

The valley at the base of the mountain is lush and green with lots of varied crops.  The community is surrounded by the ancient ruins high in the mountains.

The grain storage in the cliffs and the face that guards it.
 There are storage areas for grain built into the mountain.  Built of rock and ventilated, high above the dampness of the valley floor, the storage areas contained grain for the community and was still being used long after the Inca disappeared.
  The rock formation that looks like an angry face is a natural feature, not something carved hundreds of years ago.  A few years ago geologists studied it in great detail.

The community thrives as a railroad depot and a tourist destination.  The homes are built on the remains of the Inca foundations.

 The temple in the mountain is built from the huge stones that the Inca are renowned for.  Granite boulders are cut, smoothed and placed in the various buildings with no space between the stones.  These stones are taken from a quarry miles away.

While archaeologists have explained how it was done without the wheel and with tools made from copper, after seeing this I have more doubts.
Climbing the rock staircase to the mountain temple. 

 The walls of the stone temple are smooth with no space between the stones.  These stones have been here for several hundred years, dating back to the Inca Empire.

My tour guide for this trip.  He is a native son and knows the history and legends intimately.  One of the things he was demonstrating was how the Inca moved these huge blocks.  According to research vines were wrapped around protrusions on the rocks and the rock is dragged into place.  From there the protrusions are chipped off and smoothed with sand. 

The view from halfway up the mountain.  The terrace gardens are still being used today.
The temple of the Sun.

At the top of the mountain, about 9000 ft up the Andes the Temple of the Sun stands, impressive granite stone walls guarding the valley,

According to historians it was never  finished because of the Spanish invasion.
Looking down the mountain

From the temple there are paths that take you to other impressive ruins, from terraced gardens, watch towers, grain storage areas, to homes built into the cliffs, etc.

My tour guide was extremely helpful in helping me climb up and down these huge rock stairways.  Sometime using a cane is a good thing, other times it just makes it more difficult.

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