The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a relaxed and incomparably beautiful stretch of small villages and ancient ruins spread across a broad plain and rugged mountain slopes northwest of Cusco. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a valley in the Andes of Peru, close to the Inca capital of Cusco. It is fed by numerous rivers which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire's main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and the best place for maize production in Peru.
Through the valley rolls the revered Río Urubamba (called the Willcamayu by the Incas; today it is also called the Vilcanota in one section), a pivotal religious element of the Incas' cosmology. The Incas believed not only that the flow of the Urubamba was inexorably tied to the constellations and the mountain peaks, but also that the river was the earthbound counterpart of the Milky Way. With the river as its source, the fertile valley was a major center of agricultural production for the Incas, who grew native Andean crops such as white corn, coca, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables in expansive fields and along spectacularly terraced mountain slopes.
Even though the villages of the Sacred Valley, stretching about 100km (62 miles) from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, are highlights of many tourist itineraries and are coveted by hotel developers, they remain starkly traditional. Quechua-speaking residents work the fields with primitive tools and harvest salt with methods unchanged since the days of the Incas, and market days although now conducted to attract the tourist trade as well as inter village commerce - remain important rituals.