During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region, and built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.
Ollantaytambo dates from the late 15th century and has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. The main settlement at Ollantaytambo has an orthogonal layout with four longitudinal streets crossed by seven parallel streets. Its layout and buildings have been altered to different degrees by later constructions.
The part of the hill facing the town is occupied by the terraces of Pumatallis, framed on both flanks by rock outcrops. Terraces at Ollantaytambo were built to a higher standard than common Inca agricultural terraces; for instance, they have higher walls made of cut stones instead of rough fieldstones.
The Temple Hill is commonly known as the Fortress, but the main functions of this site were religious. The main access to the ceremonial center is a series of stairways that climb to the top of the terrace complex. The site is divided into three main areas: the Middle sector, directly in front of the terraces the Temple sector, to the south and the Funerary sector, to the north.
The Temple sector is built out of cut and fitted stones in contrast to the other two sectors of the Temple Hill, which are made out of fieldstones. The unfinished structures at the Temple Hill and the numerous stone blocks that litter the site indicate that it was still undergoing construction at the time of its abandonment.