You could find enough to do to keep you staying in Oaxaca for several days without leaving the city at all, but no time spent in the Centrale Valles de Oaxaca should omit a vist to the great hilltop stronghold of Monte Alban.
The Zapotec people who built Monte Alban really understood the mantra of estate agents the world over - location, location, location! They also must have had a vast army of cheap labour - building the ceremonial heart of the city involved levelling a huge chunk of mountaintop to create an enormous flat surface on which to erect their city of terraces, palaces, temples, the great ball court and - most extraordinary of all - the "observatory "that still today astounds us with its mathematically precise alignments to other parts of the city.
Like so many of the great ruins of Mexico, Monte Alban had a long history of successive stages of building, each one grander and more elaborate than the one before, starting somewhere about 500BC and finally falling away by about 950CE. Whilst there is much to see here it really is only a small part of the city as a whole that has been excavated along with scores of tombs - including a much later burial (Mixtec rather than Zapotec) that yielded a fabulous treasure trove that you can now see in the Oaxaca museum.
Whether you visit the site with a guide (either with a tour group or by picking up a local guide once you get there) and thus gain a really good insight into what the place was (probably - there are no certainties in archaeology) all about, or simply take it all at your own pace, guidebook in hand, you cannot fail to be awed by what you see. Once again, the achievement of these ancient people - remember they did all this without the aid of either wheel or beast of burden - this is all sheer human endeavour - will astound you and, even if you are suffering from a surfeit of ruins, the views are stunning.
There's a small museum near the entrance - most explanations are in Spanish only.
Monte Alban is situated above Oaxaca on a mountain and used to be the center of the Zapotec civilisation that flourished for almost 4000 years, having their peak at around 1500 years ago.
The ruins are very well preserved and you can get a really good insights to the zapotacs when visitng there.
I was personally quite impressed by how advanced they were when it comes to astronomy.
The area is quite big and you should set asie at least half a day for the visit there.
Monte Alban is the only ruin I managed to see in Mexico ( bad girl - but at least I have an excuse to do back)
They are much bigger than you think & PLEASE remember to put on sun block !!
The Cafe there is not too expensive & their molletes ( beans on bagutte with melted cheese on top) are lovely.
Don't forget to check out the small museum & gift shop attached.
I do have a tip though if you're flying out of Oaxaca. I was on the left hand side of the plane ( seats a-c) & look at the fab photo I managed to get !! Just after take off, so have your camera ready
on 19th februari 2008 iwalked from my hostel to hotel Rivera del Angel at Mina 518 between the streets diaz ordaz and mier y teran. here booked a van for 38 pesos return. low season first goes at 9.00. took 15 minutes. entrance 48 pesos video 35 pesos.
walked for 2 hours a bit more had been better. then went to the museum for 15 minutes. had to be back at the van at 12.00.
my first ruine so i was very impressed. especially how big it is. at the entrance went to the left. were the play the games then to palacio. south platform m building los danzantes those are copies real ones inside museum system IV north platform tombe 104.
spoke people who took a taxi for 200 pesos hear it was normal 100 from van driver so asked before you take a taxi or just take the van.
there has to be a bus too in mina who drops you 3 kilometres from the site
opening hours Monte Alban
8 till 17.00 open 7 days a week
entrance 48 pesos video 35 pesos
look for more on my monte alban page
and my short videos
Go to the city's bus station and a cheap ticket will bring you to Monte Alban, an Indian archeological site. Credited to the Zapoteca civilisation, it has similar features to Chitchen-Itza (the stone hoop where stone balls are supposed played or to be thrown through the hoop) except that no sacrificial rites were supposedly recorded of its purpose. Still... I think t is known that many a men broke their hips and left paralysed as they were supposed to play the game by hitting the stone balls with their hips.
The best option to go to Monte Alban from Oaxaca city on a daily round trip is buying a ticket in a touristic bus company.
Over the HOTEL RIVERA DEL ANGEL it's a company selling ticket for the daily trip, they have services from 8:30am until 16:00 hrs, it's a two hours trip and you will have plenty of time to discover the ruins and visit the museum.
Monte Alban offers fairly extensive Zapotec ruins with a superb mountain location and small museum, sited on the hills above the city of Oaxaca.
The original name was Danni Dipaa - and it is believed that 'Monte Alban' was coined by a Spaniard because of its location and resemblance to the Italian hill town! It was the capital of the Zatopecs and dominant force in the land between Teotihuacan and the Mayans to the south.
It is believed that Monte Alban dates from 500 BC to approximately 1000 AD (although it's strength and power declined after approx.750 AD) when it was mysteriously abandoned. At its height, the population was in the region of 40,000 people. Most of what we see today is from the 300-800 AD period.
It's a fairly compact site, located on a plateau overlooking the valleys of the region on all sides. There's no one single stand-out building (at least to the casual visitor) with the possible exception of the Danzantes - the oldest building on the site (500 BC - 1AD) and where carvings of vaniquished chiefs are to be found.
Open daily - 10am - 5pm.
Nestled in the top of a mountain, Monta Alban's location gives it an Incaic filling to it (see my Peruvian pages). This is not an off-the-beaten path attraction anymore so no one has an excuse to miss this archeological site, one of the best in Meso America. Take a look at the rock used to build this city. Unlike other ruins (most of which are gray), this one is yellow.
Monte Alban was an awesome experience. Go to see these ancient ruins. The site is kinda blocked off so you cant climb up on a lot of the structures, but its cool to see how the indigenous people lived.
This prehispanic city was the capital of the zapotecs from about 500 B.C. through 800 A.D., it was one of the first cities founded in mesoamerica. You will find huge buildings that were built as temples,ball courts, palaces, a observatory and thombs. Some buildings are decorated with hand made reliefs. It is very interesting this Archeological zone because it shows you how the ancient people live before. Just next to the archeological site you must visit the Montealban Museum, it exhibits some pieces like stone carvings and clay objects.
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