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"A royal retirement home" Top 5 Page for this destination Mitla Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Mitla, Oaxaca de Juárez: 3 reviews and 14 photos

  Original colour
by TheWanderingCamel
  • Original colour - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Original colour
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Long, low palaces - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Long, low palaces
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Church and palace side by side - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Church and palace side by side
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Mosaic stonework - Oaxaca de Juárez
      Mosaic stonework
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • The Hall of Columns - Oaxaca de Juárez
      The Hall of Columns
    by TheWanderingCamel

Well, that's one theory put forward by archaeologists about the grand complex of palaces at Mitla. There's some evidence to support this theory - it is known that this was the burial place of Zapotec kings and heroes (Mexicans knew this place as Mictlan meaning "Inframundo" - the Place of the Dead)and the evidence of burials found here points to people who had 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 now lies under the colonial town that came into being after the conquest but enough remains to show how grand and unique this place was. Two groups of buildings appear to be ceremonial centres, there is evidence that they were used ritualistic purposes, perhaps priestly initiations. Others seem to be palaces. There are no great pyramids or temples here - the buildings are of much more human scale, with long rooms and wide patios. There is some very fine decoration, a lot of it unique to Mitla - another indication of royal occupancy. Most notable are the extraordinary bands of tesselated stonework. 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. The reconstruction of one of the chambers demonstrates 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.

The Church Of San Pablo was built right over one of the palaces, using stone from the temples. This was standard practice throughout all Mexico until 1850 as the Spanish clergy sought to impose Catholic beliefs on the local population.

Directions: The ruins are open daily 9-5. Admission is free on Sunday
Phone: 514-1294

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 10, 2007
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