"Royal retirement home" Top 5 Page for this destination Mexico Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel
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Well, that's one theory put forward by archaeologists about the grand complex of palaces at Mitla. Not only do they know that this was the burial place of Zapotec kings and heroes - the main tombs are still to be found but it is known both that they did exist and that the Spanish clergy who occupied this place had them sealed and concealed - but the evidence of burials they have found here point to people that had both lived into old age (a rare thing in pre-Hispanic Mexico), had a good diet and were well cared for - all indications of an elite group.
Much of Mitla lies under the colonial town that came into being after the conquest but enough of the palaces remain to show how grand and unique this place was. There are no great pyramids or temples here - the buildings are of much more human scale, with long rooms and wide patios. There is evidence that some were used for ritualistic purposes - perhaps priestly initiations. There is some every fine decoration too - another indication of royal occupancy. Most notable are the extraordinary bands of tesselated stonework that are unique to Mitla. They're all intricately geometric, some with a mirror image on an opposing wall - so meticulously laid that if the walls were to pushed together those two mirror images would lock together perfectly. Other notable features include a surprising amount of original colour and fresco on the walls, and the reconstruction of one of the chambers to show how earthquake damage was controlled by floating the huge stone-slab ceilings on tiny round stones on the top of the supporting walls - this allowed sufficient movement in the building to prevent it cracking apart as a more rigid structure would have done - most ingenious.
Directions: The ruins are open daily 9-5. Admission is free on Sunday
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