Patallacta - History and Facts | History Hit


Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru

A large Inca site near Machu Picchu, Patallacta contains the hillside remains of dozens of walled houses and other buildings.

Image Credit: Mark Green / Shutterstock

About Patallacta

Patallacta is a large Inca site near Machu Picchu, built atop stepped agricultural terraces surrounding a rising hillside.

History of Patallacta

Literally translating as ‘high town’ from the original Quechua, the site sits along what is now known as the Inca Trail, which runs to the far more famous Machu Picchu and it is believed the settlement was also used by the Inca as a stopping point for those on their way to the ancient city.

It’s sometimes referred to as Llactapata, there remains significant confusion as to the naming conventions for a number of Inca sites in this region. It’s thought there were about 100 dwellings in this site in its heyday, many of who would have been soldiers who manned nearby ‘hill forts’. As with so many sites on the Inca Trail, Patallacta probably also functioned as a religious ceremonial site, and some believe it might have been a sanctuary too.

Burned by the Inca as they retreated from Cusco, with the conquistadors in pursuit, in 1536, the remains were only rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1912, on the same expedition as his discovery of Machu Picchu. The site was almost entirely smothered by vegetation, making it extremely difficult to understand exactly how big it was, or what it was used for. Further excavations were undertaken in 2003 in order to explore Patallacta further.

Patallacta today

Today the remains of Patallacta, include dozens of walled houses and other buildings which can still be explored. The site is divided into four distinct sections, each with a central plaza. There are also a variety of stepped terraces, which would have been used for agricultural purposes.

Many tours of the Inca trail will stop at Patallacta and that is the easiest way to explore the site. Sun cream and insect repellent are useful to have with you!

Getting to Patallacta

Pretty much the only way to access Patallacta is via the Inca Trail – it tends to be a stop on the 4 day version. Group hikes tend to set off from Cusco, and the hike starts at the point known as km. 82. It’s pretty much impossible to access unless on foot, and it’s a steep climb through the Andean mountains, so make sure you’re relatively physically fit.