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Monte Alban Archaeological Site

By Ana Torres |

Visit Monte Alban and discover the archaeological history of Oaxaca.


Oaxaca is one of the most beautiful destinations in Mexico. Its territory is covered by natural and cultural wonders as well as architectural treasures that any savvy traveler would be proud to visit. Apart from being one of the cities that has best preserved artwork-making techniques and traditional cuisine in Mexico, when you talk about the country’s Prehispanic past, Oaxaca is listed as one of the most recommended destinations to discover this region’s ancient ways of life. For this reason, DINKtravelers takes you to Monte Alban, an archaeological site that houses the ruins of the Zapotec culture and that UNESCO declared World Heritage in 1987.


The ancient city of Monte Alban was built and inhabited from 500 b.C. to 800 A.D. It was known as the first urban complex in Mesoamerica that became an important economical, political and religious center. It was so populated that it extended throughout practically the same territory the city of Oaxaca occupies today!

Monte Alban is located west of the Atoyac River, around seven kilometers away from the city of Oaxaca. Departing from the capital you can take two routes: the first one follows the old road to Monte Alban, on the way to Xoxocotlán, and the second one is the road to Santa Maria Atzompa, taking the detour to Monte Alban. Both routes take around 25 minutes to get to the site.

You’ll notice that Monte Alban is surrounded by mountains. This is because its location had a strategic placement as a military defense. The clusters that make up the archaeological site are these: Monte Alban, Atzompa and El Gallo, all of which group housings, temples and terraces where they cultivated various foods.


Some of the buildings you’ll find at this site are: the area dedicate to the Ball Game, the Palace, Burial Number 7 and the Great Square. We suggest taking your time to visit Burial Number 7, which was discovered in 1932 by the Mexican archaeologist Alfonso Caso. There you will find a rectangular grave that is quite unique because it’s one of the few graves whose offerings were found intact.


Nowadays the archaeological site of Monte Alban also houses an on-site museum. It opened to the public in 1985 and it showcases a collection of engraved stones that were found throughout the site during the excavation works. These portray the development of the writing system throughout the four stages of Zapotec occupation.

The museum also exhibits ceramic works that help learn about the type of objects that were exchanged in commercial transactions as well as 3 funerary offerings that portray the relevance of religious traditions for the Zapotec culture.

After visiting the archaeological site and the museum, we suggest going to the restaurant that’s located at the site’s entrance. It will offer you the chance to try typical dishes from Oaxaca with an unparalleled view!

If you were as fascinated by Monte Alban as we are, visit the site’s bookstore. It specializes in books, catalogues, magazines and travel guides that gather all the information you can imagine about the site. And if you want to buy artwork, go to the souvenir shop!