Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Ancient Zapotec city (100 BC to 900 AD)
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The ancient center of Zapotec culture, the site of Monte Albán was inhabited for over 1500 years.
Although initial construction started around 800 BC, the Zapotecs only arrived about 100 BC and, over time, built the city up to its zenith around 500 AD.The architecture of Monte Albán shows strong stylistic influence from Teotihuacán, a large site hundreds of kilometers to the north, suggesting links between these cultures.
Monte Albán is located on an artificially flattened plateau extending for around 40 square kilometers (15 square miles). The site features a sophisticated drainage and tunnel system linking buildings on opposite sides of the plaza. In all, a magnificent feat of engineering.
For reasons that are not clear the site was eventually abandoned over the period 700 to 1000 AD. The Mixtecs continued to use the site as a high-status burial ground up until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The ancient name of the site is not known with certainty.
Monte Albán is located just outside the city of Oaxaca, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
Air: Oaxaca airport (code OAX) provides air service to Oaxaca.
Bus: There is regular bus service between Oaxaca and most major cities in Mexico. Oaxaca is a 5 to 6 hour bus journey from Mexico City.
Car: The 'autopista' between Mexico City and Oaxaca is in very good condition (at time of writing!). The drive takes between 4 and 6 hours depending on conditions.
There are a wealth of archaeological sites to visit in the state of Oaxaca, including Mitla (the population center that succeeded Monte Albán), Yagul, and Dainzu.
In the city of Oaxaca there is the colonial architecture, museums, churches and warm atmosphere to enjoy.
A short drive or bus journey away is the Tule Tree - by some measures the biggest tree in the world and certainly worth a visit!
Further afield, the beautiful pacific coast is a 7 hour bus ride or drive away. Puerto Angel, Puerto Escondido, and Huatulco are amongst the most popular beach destinations.
Online Zapotec handmade carpet store with information and photos about Monte Albán and Zapotec culture.
A good selection of photographs and descriptions of the principal features of Monte Albán.
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