The place of the dead.
That is the name of Mitla in the original language Nahuatl. The underworld (inframundo). The archeological site can be found in the valley of Oaxaca
, about an hour away from Oaxaca city
. Even thought it does not posses any amazingly tall pyramids, this center of Zapotec culture is famous for the geometric designs on its walls
. These patterns called „grecas“
were cut from stone and set against stucco walls painted bright red.
Evidence shows that the first settlers came around 12 thousands years ago. However, the city reached its height after the fall of Monte Alban
, between 950 and 1521 with both Zapotec and Mixtec influence
. When the Spanish came, Mitla
was still inhabited. As a sign of power and dominance, they built a catholic church San Pablo right in the middle of the ancient walls.
Both structures blend so well, it looks almost like one building.
Mitla was built as a gateway between the two worlds, the world of the living and the world of the dead.
Explore the ruins, its hidden corners, patios, narrow tunnels and tombs.
Check out the church and local art market,
which is right next to the site. You can also visit one of the Mezcal factories
(an alcohol made from agave, similar to tequila). Should you have enough time you can continue to the petrified waterfalls Hierve el Agua.
Opens daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, 37 pesos.
Where to stay: The best is to stay in Oaxaca city. Should you wish to sleep in Mitla, there is a nice hotel Don Cenobio right on its main square. We were amazed to find such place here, in the small Mitla village. The amazement was replaced by disappointment over the breakfast (crackers instead of toasts, frozen „fresh“ fruit and messy service…probably six people is unbearable rush in here).
How to get here:
Take a bus from Oaxaca second-class bus terminal
(Central Camionera segunda clase). They leave every ten minutes (14 pesos, 1 hour 15 minutes). Do not expect luxury. The bus will leave you in front of the entrance to Mitla village
, from here you either have to walk (15 minutes) or hire one of the small „coco“ taxi.