The Sacred Valley was an extremely important area for the Incas and the civilisations that came before them. There is evidence that it was inhabited as far back as the stone-age and throughout it's length you can find a variety of Pre-Inca and Inca sites (and sometimes the two rolled in to one).
The main interest of the Sacred Valley was it's fertile soil and warm climate that allowed the Andean civilisations of the area to produce the food they needed to flourish and grow. Even today the Sacred Valley is an important agricultural zone and you can see a wide variety of crops being grown along it's length.
The Sacred Valley is home to many Inca sites with the most well-known being Pisac and Ollantaytambo and obviously Machu Picchu at it's far end. Visitors come from far and wide to see the beautiful Inca architecture that lines the valley and many choose to spend a few nights here so that they can enjoy it at their leisure.
Pisac Market and Inca site
Pisac is located just a 30 minute drive from Cusco and has one of the best markets in the region. Selling a wide variety of locally produced handicrafts it is a great place to do your souvenir shopping and pick up a little something for yourself too.
Another 20 minutes up the mountain is the Inca site which goes by the same name as the town; covering a large area with many finely constructed buildings the site had various purposes ranging from military, religious and agricultural. Exploring the site is a great way to spend a morning, most people only have a flying visit as their time is restricted but this means they miss out on seeing a large part of what is on offer.
Ollantaytambo is a small town at the other end of the Sacred Valley to Pisac. With quaint cobbled streets, a perfect climate and a variety of cafes and restaurants, Ollantaytambo is one of the gems of the Sacred Valley.
The Inca site here has some of the finest stonework that you'll get to see on your visit to Peru and it wasn't even finishe! The site gets its name from the general who first occupied the area, Ollanta. The legend goes that Ollanta was a general of the first great Inca Pachacutec. Ollanta angered Pachacutec by falling in love with his daughter and a war sprung up between the two during which Pachacutec raised Ollantaytambo to the ground. The site we see today was probably constructed by Pachacutec who is believed to be responsible for the majority of the great Inca sites we know today.
Chinchero is a small town on the plains above the Sacred Valley and Cusco. Chinchero is home to a beautiful colonial era church and a large area of terraces. On Sunday's there is a mass held in Qhechua(the language of the Inca) and a market which mostly caters for tourists.
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