"Monte Alban" Top 5 Page for this destination Mexico Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Mexico Things to Do: 626 reviews and 826 photos

  Monte Alban panorama - click for full-width photo
by TheWanderingCamel
  • Monte Alban panorama - click for full-width photo - Mexico
      Monte Alban panorama - click for full-width photo
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Ball court and Platformea Norte - Mexico
      Ball court and Platformea Norte
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Danzante (Dancer) - Mexico
      Danzante (Dancer)
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Fantatic views - Mexico
      Fantatic views
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • The "observatory" - Mexico
      The "observatory"
    by TheWanderingCamel

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 the extraordinary collection of terraces, palaces, temples 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.


Directions: Monte Alban is only a 20 minute bus-ride from Oaxaca. There are pleanty of tours available from the city or you can catch a local bus.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 4, 2006
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