Mexico - February 2012

Near Oaxaca:  Monte Albán and Mitla

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


Set high in the mountains, 1300 feet above Oaxaca, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Monte Albán.  Though first associated with the Olmecs, it was built by the Zapotecs and used as a ceremonial center from 500 BC to 800 AD. After that, the area was adopted by the Mixtecs.  It had already been looted many times by different tribes before 1521 when the Spanish arrived.  The site was only rediscovered in the 20th century.

The view from the south platform shows the scale of the mountain top site which was leveled by the Zapotecs by hand.   

The ball court shows that the Zapotecs were influenced by the Maya. 

Mitla became the last important Zapotec religious center when Monte Albán faded around 800 AD.  Its mosaic fretwork decorations set it apart.  These geometric designs are related to ancient pre-Columbian gods.  When the Spanish arrived they destroyed most of the buildings and built their church, the Iglesia de San Pablo, with its stones. 

The modern town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla coexists with the ruins. Following Spanish custom, the 16th century church is on top of them. 

The alcoholic drink mezcal is made throughout the area. There is a saying from Oaxaca regarding the drink:  “Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también.” (For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.).

The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M9 and R9.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

July 26, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     wgfm

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