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Monte Alban

Home > Oaxaca City > Adventure | Day Trips | Escape the City | Walks
by Ian Marshall (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and yogi living in Tepoztlan, Mexico where I'm running with my girlfriend. You can keep up with my other writing on or
Published August 23rd 2015
Beautiful pre-Colombian ruins
An easy day trip from the delightful Oaxaca City, Monte Alban is a set of pre-Colombian ruins that sit atop a hill offering glorious views of the surrounding countryside and a tangible sense of what it must have been like to visit in its pomp.

Monte Alban, ruins, beautiful, Mexico, Oaxaca
Monte Alban

This was a city so it differs to some of the other sites in Mexico, such as Teotihuacan, which are considered to have been spiritual centres where surrounding settlements would visit for sacrifices and other religious activities. Monte Alban on the other hand, while still having some structures that would have been used for such purposes, such as the ball game court, it was a place for living first and foremost.

Monte Alban, ruins, beautiful, Mexico, Oaxaca, ball game
The ball court

The ball game was a ceremonial event which involved human sacrifice and there are many examples of the courts around Mexico. It originated with the Mayans and involved two teams hitting a ball between a small hoop while bouncing it off the sloping sides of the court. The players could use their hips to strike the rubber ball, at least that is the most common interpretation of how the game was played.

Monte Alban, ruins, beautiful, Mexico, Oaxaca
Monte Alban

The main plaza of Monte Alban is approximately 200 metres by 300 metres and it contains most of the ceremonial structures while at the Northern and Southern ends a large platform rises where temples and homes for the rich elite would have been found.

Monte Alban, ruins, beautiful, Mexico, Oaxaca
View across the site

The views across the Oaxaca valley are quite sensational and you can imagine these vistas being the backdrop to everyday life here.

Monte Alban, ruins, beautiful, Mexico, Oaxaca
Monte Alban

I enjoyed walking in the quieter back areas of the site, hearing the insects chirruping amongst the grass and trees and feeling like I was back in my childhood, playing outdoors in the summer.
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Why? Unesco world heritage ruins
When: Year round
Where: Oaxaca state, Mexico
Cost: 52 pesos
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