Shortly after my visit to the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban I visited what was the religious center of the Zapotecs, the archaelogical site of Mitla.  While Monte Alban is placed in a dramatic setting, Mitla is comparatively understated.  It was built more for the comfort of the residents than for grandeur.  The site is on the valley floor.  It was built as a gateway between the land of the living and the land of the dead.  The Zapotec word for the site means “place of rest.”

Columns Group

What makes Mitla different from all other ruins in the area are the grecas or intricate mosaic fretworks. The grecas are made from thousands of cut and polished stones. The stones are held in place by the weight of the other stones. The precise placement of the stones result in the repeated geometric designs seen throughout the site.

grecas or geometric patterns on Columns Group wall

Palace and main plaza

view from the Palace of the plaza

platform where priests would perform rituals

interior courtyard

doorway or gateway to the afterlife

The archaelogical site of Mitla is only about 30 miles outside of Oaxaca. The entrance fee is a little more than $3 USD. Organized tours usually combine stopping here with stops at El Arbol Del Tule and Hierve El Agua. You can see most of the site within one hour or perhaps two hours if you are going to take a substantial amount of photos and video. Mitla is less physically demanding to visit than other sites as it is relatively flat. While I enjoyed my visit to Mitla I wish I had done a little research before going so I could have appreciated the site on a deeper level.


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