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Monte Alban

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Monte Albán is an archaeological site in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. It is a UNESCO World Heritage List site.


Monte Albán traces its history to about 500 B.C. when Zapotec builders began leveling the mountaintop and constructing terraces and other works. The city's construction was done in phases, with Phase I stretching from the city's beginnings to about 1 AD when Building J, believed to be an observatory, was built. The second phase spanned two centuries from 1 AD to 200 AD. Around 800 A.D. the Zapotec people abandoned the city for reasons unknown. The Mixtec people later entered the Valley of Oaxaca in 1200 AD and used the Monte Alban site to bury their elite.

Monte Albán is managed by INAH. [1]

Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Oaxaca


Temperatures in Oaxaca are generally warm with winter low temperatures seldom going below 15 Celsius. November through April is the dry season in Oaxaca, which sees most of its rain in late summer, particularly September.

Get in[edit]

Monte Albán is located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) from downtown Oaxaca. The best ways to get there are by taxi or tour bus.

  • Taxis are the most flexible, but most expensive way to visit the site. They will cost about $200-300 round-trip from most downtown Oaxaca hotels.
  • Shuttles The vans are operated by Lescas Co Travel Agency. They leave every hour throughout the day. Tickets can be purchased at a small store underneath a green "Tours" sign opposite the cathedral. They will walk you to the pick-up stop. Alternatively, walk 4 blocks west of Mercado 20 de Novembre on 518 Fransisco Mina. Lescas Co Travel Agency run the shuttle from the lobby of Hotel Rivera de Angel. $70 as of 08/2016. You can also buy tickets for the shuttle run by Transportaciones Turísticas Mitla at a small shop opposite the Hotel Rivera de Angel for $60 (round trip). As of 06/2018, shuttles leave every hour on the half hour from 8.30am and return every hour on the hour from 12pm-5pm. The ride is bumpy but scenic as it winds through the city & surrounding hills.
  • If you don't mind a bit of a walk, and want to pay less, there are local buses all around the Zocalo that head towards Monte Alban - just look for the buses with Monte Alban on the front. It's 6 pesos one way and they will drop you off on a platform a 1 hour walk away from the site. Just bring some water, the walk is all uphill but not strenuous, and on a paved road. Whilst you're at it, stick out your thumb and you will probably get picked up within 10 minutes by a local or tourist visiting the site in their private car. On the way back you might get driven all the way back to the centro too.


Entry to the site costs $75 pesos (May 2019). Additional fees are charged for video cameras or tripods. Entrance to the site is free on Sundays, if you are a Mexican resident.

Get around[edit]

You can walk around the site and climb up the major structures. Mobility will be a problem for handicapped visitors. Local guides can be hired near the site entrance and their interpretive knowledge is well worth the reasonable fees they charge.

See[edit][add listing]

Ballcourt at Monte Albán
  • North Platform - Large, high platform with several structures (possibly temples) at the top.
  • Ballcourt - The Zapotec used a very different layout from the Mayan ballcourts at sites like Coba or Chichen Itza.
  • Los Danzantes - A group of structures noted for its fascinating Olmec carvings of people in various strange positions.
  • Building J - The unusual position and architectural details indicate that the building was an astronomical observatory.
  • Southern Platform - A very large pyramid with an open plaza area at the top.
  • Tomb 7 - Mexican archaeologists uncovered the treasure-filled tomb in the early 1930s.

Monte Albán's site museum is modern, attractive and well worth a visit. They have some excellent interpretive displays plus a number of relics excavated from the site in the early 20th century. A highlight of the museum is its collection of stelae. Restrooms, a small bookstore, and a cafe are also available here.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • hire one of the local guides to walk the site with you
  • climb both the North and South platforms
  • bring sunblock

Buy[edit][add listing]

A small bookstore is in the site's visitor center. Local vendors often sell local crafts and foods outside the site entrance.

Eat[edit][add listing]

A small cafe serving light sandwiches and beverages is in the site's modern visitor center. More substantial meals are available in Oaxaca.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Nightclubs and bars are in nearby Oaxaca. Sodas and beer are sold in the cafe in the site's visitor center. You may want to bring a bottle of water with you since it can get very hot walking around the site and climbing the ancient ruins.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Lodging is available in the nearby city of Oaxaca.

Stay safe[edit]

Monte Albán is a safe site to visit. Some political unrest occurred in Oaxaca City in early 2007, but the city is quiet again.

Get out[edit]

The city of Oaxaca is spectacular. Mitla, another Zapotec archaeological site, is nearby.Create category

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