Peru South, Sacred Valley - the Land of the Incas and Rainbow Mountain

The Sacred Valley is a region in Peru's Andean highlands. Along with the nearby town of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu, it formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Stretching roughly 60 kilometers, it’s an area of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac is known for its Sunday handicraft market and hilltop Incan citadel. Ollantaytambo is an old Inca town preserved in its entirety.  

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Cusco - the church de la compana de Jesus was built upon the palace of Huayna Cápac, the last Inca to rule an undivided, unconquered empire, the church was built by the Jesuits in 1571 and reconstructed after the 1650 earthquake.

Cusco - the church de la compana de Jesus was built upon the palace of Huayna Cápac, the last Inca to rule an undivided, unconquered empire, the church was built by the Jesuits in 1571 and reconstructed after the 1650 earthquake.

Old Inca wall in Cusco with the famous 12 angled stone

Old Inca wall in Cusco with the famous 12 angled stone

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Church de la compana de Jesus in Cusco's main square

Church de la compana de Jesus in Cusco's main square

The Cusco Cathedral was built 1560 on the lot of Kancha, the palace of Inca Wiracocha. The actual Cathedral was declared built in 1664, more than a century after.

The Cusco Cathedral was built 1560 on the lot of Kancha, the palace of Inca Wiracocha. The actual Cathedral was declared built in 1664, more than a century after.

Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun  in Cusco. Koricancha’s construction is believed to have been initiated by the first Inca, Manco Capac circa 1200AD.

Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun in Cusco. Koricancha’s construction is believed to have been initiated by the first Inca, Manco Capac circa 1200AD.

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Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun  in Cusco. Koricancha is built with many construction mechanisms used by the Incas, such as the vertical inclination of walls, trapezoidal shape of the structures, irregular shapes and rounded edges. Increased breadth on the bottom coupled with 3 to 5 degree inclination gives the walls stability that has withstood many earthquakes, which are common to the area.

Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun in Cusco. Koricancha is built with many construction mechanisms used by the Incas, such as the vertical inclination of walls, trapezoidal shape of the structures, irregular shapes and rounded edges. Increased breadth on the bottom coupled with 3 to 5 degree inclination gives the walls stability that has withstood many earthquakes, which are common to the area.

The 12 angled stone

The 12 angled stone

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Cusco

Cusco

Temple of the Sun, Cusco

Temple of the Sun, Cusco

Inca fortress of Saksaywaman above Cusco

Inca fortress of Saksaywaman above Cusco

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The monolithic walls of Saksaywaman

The monolithic walls of Saksaywaman

Inca ruins of Pisac

Inca ruins of Pisac

Pisac

Pisac

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Pisac seen from the ruins

Pisac seen from the ruins

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Old Inca town of Ollantaytambo

Old Inca town of Ollantaytambo

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The Inca citadel of Ollantaytambo. The Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the settlement in a section known as the Temple Hill. It was originally built for purposes of worship. The fortress served as the last Inca stronghold against the Spanish Conquistadors and it was the site of one of the only battles in which the Inca successfully repelled Spanish forces.

The Inca citadel of Ollantaytambo. The Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the settlement in a section known as the Temple Hill. It was originally built for purposes of worship. The fortress served as the last Inca stronghold against the Spanish Conquistadors and it was the site of one of the only battles in which the Inca successfully repelled Spanish forces.

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

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The Ollantaytambo Fortress. the Wall of the Six Monoliths, a towering section of wall.

The Ollantaytambo Fortress. the Wall of the Six Monoliths, a towering section of wall.

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The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress the Wall of the Six Monoliths.

The Ollantaytambo Fortress the Wall of the Six Monoliths.

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The Ollantaytambo Fortress

The train to Machu Picchu

The train to Machu Picchu

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The top of Huayna Picchu

The top of Huayna Picchu

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Intihuatana - the Hitching Post of the Sun - an Astronomical clock of the Inca or a sacrificial altar?

Intihuatana - the Hitching Post of the Sun - an Astronomical clock of the Inca or a sacrificial altar?

Hiking around Machu Picchu

Hiking around Machu Picchu

The view down to Urubamba River from Huayna Picchu

The view down to Urubamba River from Huayna Picchu

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The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu

The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu

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The Sacred Puma Rock - a stone altar of unknown purpose

The Sacred Puma Rock - a stone altar of unknown purpose

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Fantastic views to the Urubamba Valley

Fantastic views to the Urubamba Valley

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The approach valley to the Painted Mountain alt 5000m

The approach valley to the Painted Mountain alt 5000m

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Mt. Ausangate (Vicanota) 6,384m

Mt. Ausangate (Vicanota) 6,384m

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Ausangate 6,384m

Ausangate 6,384m

Painted Mountains and the Red Valley

Painted Mountains and the Red Valley

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The Red Valley

The Red Valley

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Mario Testino's take on the Inca traditional wears

Mario Testino's take on the Inca traditional wears

The magic of Mario Testino

The magic of Mario Testino

Mario Testino museum

Mario Testino museum