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Urubamba Valley

Urubamba or Urupampa (Quechua "flat land of spiders") is a small town in Peru, located near the Urubamba River under the snow-capped mountain Chicón. Located one hour from Cusco, Urubamba is the largest town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is also located near a number of significant ruins of the Inca Empire, including Machu Picchu. The sparse remains of the Inca palace, Quispiguanca, are within the town. Tourists often come through the town on their way to visit these sites.

Inca emperors customarily acquired large royal estates to increase their power and wealth and that of their descendants who inherited the estates. Royal estates served as elegant country palaces and, at times, fortresses to fend off rivals for power. The ruins of other royal estates, notably Huchuy Qosqo and Machu Picchu are scattered up and down the Urubamba or Yucay Valley, commonly called the Sacred Valley.

The Sacred Valley was a popular area for royal estates. It was within about 30 kilometres (19 mi) of the Inca capital of Cuzco, but at lower elevations and with a warmer climate. Maize, the prestige crop of the Incas, could be grown in the Sacred Valley, whereas the climate nearer Cuzco was mostly too cold for maize cultivation. The Sacred Valley was also the closest route to reach the coca growing area in the lower Urubamba River valley. Water is abundant in the Sacred Valley due to precipitation in the snow-covered Andes which rise to elevations of more than 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) on the northern side of the narrow valley.

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