Sacred Valley Part 2
After Pisac, we headed for Ollantaytambo. We had two sights in mind – the temple of Ollantaytambo and the Granaries. Since we didn’t have much time left before we had to board our train to Aguas Callientes, we decided to just visit the Temple. It promised great views of the city itself as well as the Granaries, which were on the mountain opposite the temple. We had to climb 260 steps but luckily, we weren’t getting as dizzy or as tired as the day before in Cuzco. Either we had gotten used to the high altitude, or the fact that Ollantaytambo was not quite as high as Cuzco made enough of a difference.
Thanks to our tour guide, visiting this temple was a lot more informative and interesting than it would have been otherwise.
The temple had many interesting features that we wouldn’t have known the meaning of. without him pointing it out. My favorite one was the solar calendar. It was constructed so that the sun light passing through certain gates and windows would mark certain times of the year. For example, the two gates at either end of the solar calendar marked the winter and summer solstice. The remaining 10 windows marked the months of the year. The Incas knew enough about time and the position of the sun to be able to build this solar calendar so that the sun light would pass through the exact window or gate and mark the time of year.
There were many other places in the temple that the Incas used to keep track of time, but this was by far the best one. Our tour guide also pointed out the granaries across the city, built into the hills of the mountain Pinkuyluna. In addition to the granaries, this mountain also had the faces of an Incan emperor and his son carved into its hillsides – can you spot them in the pictures?
Many of the stones used to build this temple weigh 20, 40, 60 tons or more – I can’t even imagine how the Incas brought them from the quarry across the valley. What’s even more fascinating is that they built without mortar, which meant that the stones had to fit perfectly together.
How they knew to build this temple so that the sunlight passing through certain areas would mark time is even more puzzling. Our tour guide claimed the the Incas were the only ones to pinpoint the equator with any accuracy – all other ancient cultures missed the mark by far. What an amazing culture and what extraordinary heritage they’ve left us… Now I really look forward to seeing Machu Picchu!
We took a photo of the Incan throne, which was facing Pinkuylluna mountain. Apparently, this mountain is the axis around which the sun moves over the course of the year, and the Incan throne was perfectly positioned to observe that.
On the way back down the stairs, I couldn’t resist but take more photos of the valley below.
After visiting the temple, we had just enough time to eat lunch. We decided to stop at a place called Inca travel. Nathalia and I both laughed over the menu and its misspellings. I wondered what the Mised salad would taste like? Oh wait, how about the Chauf salad? Or maybe some tipical vegetarian food was in order. After we finally ordered, our food came but it wasn’t exactly matching the description from the menu, and my coca tea – my new favorite, provided the right amount of sugar – was forgotten. To top it all off, the owner simply added his tip directly to the bill, and the bathroom in the place was missing not only soap but running water. Oh, and one had to go up and down the tiniest, steepest spiral staircase on Earth. We were happy to be out of there in the end and headed to the train station to catch our train to Aguas Callientes!