Fast Facts

Location: Southern Mexican state of Oaxaca
Dates: Begun in 2nd century BC
Time to Visit: 8 a.m. — 6 p.m. throughout the year
Admission fee: peso35 (adult), free (child under 13 and on Sunday), peso30 (the charge for video camera)
How to Reach: You will get frequent buses from Oaxaca, leaving from the Hotel Meson del Angel, Mina 518, at Mier y Teran. Autobuses Turisticos operates 7 times daily and the round-trip fare is $4. The journey takes only half an hour. If you are coming by car, take Calle Trujano from Oaxaca. It leads the road to Monte Alban, at a distance of about 10 kilometers.
Nearest International Airport: Puerto Escondido International Airport

It is believed that Monte Alban in Oaxaca, the pre-Columbian archaeological site perched between two lush valleys in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, was named in the 16th century after the Spanish landowner’s surname “Montalvan”. The city was previously named the Mixtec name “Sahandevul” which means “at the Foot of the Sky” or “Danibaan” which means “Sacred Mountain”.

You may start your tour to Monte Alban from La Gran Plaza (Great Plaza) which marks the center of Monte Alban. The Plataforma Norte (North Platform), as large as the Grand Plaza, features a ceremonial area including an altar. In addition to them, there are several tombs, most of which are closed, with the only exception of Tomb No. 104 whose interior walls are decorated with colorful frescoes.

Other attractions at Monte Alban Oaxaca include the Juego de Pelota (Games Court), El Palacio (The Palace) with its beautiful patio at the top and the Plataforma Sur (South Platform) featuring an attractive staircase and offering a panoramic view of the main Plaza.

Monte Alban highlights

  • Los Danzantes
    It is one of the most famous parts of Oaxaca’s Monte Alban. The statues found at ‘The Dancers’ gallery and building have drawn the interest of many archeologists.
  • Monticulo J
    It is an attractive structure, built at a 45-degree angle to the things that encircle. There are carved illustrations in relief on the side of the Observatory which indicate the rising power of the Zapotec civilization.
  • Plataforma Norte
    Built between 400 and 700 A.D., it is regarded as the most notable of Monte Alban’s temples. There is a spectacular stone staircase that leads up to an altar in a patio used for ceremonial rites.
  • Tombs
    Around190 tombs have been excavated at Monte Alban Oaxaca and there are still many more waiting to be unearthed.

Things to do

Apart from sightseeing, you will enjoy the adventurous experience of climbing in the North as well as South platforms. For your dining, there is a small cafe serving light sandwiches and exclusive beverages. If you are looking for more substantial meals, you have to go to Oaxaca.

You will find a small bookstore in the visitor center. Local vendors often sell local crafts and foods outside the main gateway.

A visit to Monte Alban will surely be one of the best parts of your trip to Oaxaca.

Related Links : the first of a two-part series on a visit to the historic site of Monte Alban. You will get to see all the major attractions of the site from these videos. To read interesting and informative travel accounts of a visit to the Monte Alban, click on this link!

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