Monte Alban ruins

Yes, more Mexican ruins – but this time we had left the land of the Maya, and we were at the site of some Zapotec ruins. Zapotec civilisation originated in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca in 6BC and they were a different civilisation from the more famous Atzecs (well, more famous to me anyway – as I had heard of Atzecs but never Zapotecs). It seems that the Zapotecs and the Aztecs used to engage in warfare with each other until the Spanish came and took over.

The ruins of Monte Alban, can be reached by bus from Oaxaca in around 30 minutes – and gone were the days of us getting up early to beat the crowds… we arrived at 11am and left at around 2pm. The site was never that crowded during the whole time that we were there.

Monte Alban is set on top of a large hill and is actually very close to a lot of urban settlements – so much so that archaeologists are worried that they will start to encroach on the site. There were good views all around, and we enjoyed our stroll through the site looking at the pyramids and the carvings. Like many ancient cities of Mexico, the site consisted of temples in pyramid form, main squares and boulevards, and a ballcourt.

View over the site of Monte Alban.
A tour group in front of a pyramid.
Looking over the site of Monte Alban into the haze above the valley.
Another view of the valley.
Close up of a temple at Monte Alban.

I will be honest now and tell you that we didn’t really pay much attention to the history and culture of the Zapotecs, and most of the time we didn’t really know what particular temple or carving we were looking at. We told ourselves that we would ‘look it up later’ – but in fact we never managed to do that… So negative points for us for being ‘bad’ cultural tourists – I think we got sucked in by the views and the lizards and didn’t feel like engaging our brains very much…! So, here is a lizard… 🙂

You have to admit that this lizard is very beautiful… 🙂
PB the bad tourist.
CC – the other bad tourist.

Despite not learning very much, we still had a good time at the ruins – so here are some final pics…

Overhead view of the ruins.
Close up of carving.
Intricate carvings.
Monte Alban ruins.
Looking across the ruins to the mountains behind.

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