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The Mysteries of Mitla

San Pablo Villa de Mitla is a small town located in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, just 46 km (28 miles) southeast of Oaxaca city. The town is home to the impressive Mitla archaeological site, one of the important places to visit in Oaxaca.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, Mitla was once an important Zapotec religious and ceremonial center. Here you’ll find a series of structures and patios adorned in stonework mosaics. These ancient cut-stone mosaics, created by fitting together thousands of polished cut stones, are believed to date back to the last two or three centuries before the arrival of the Spanish.

One of the distinguishing features at Mitla is the reoccurrence of 14 geometric designs that are represented in the stone carvings throughout the complex. You’ll be amazed at the intricacy and detail of the carvings, especially those found in the palace building.

The Mitla archaeological site is made up of five groups of ruins and each group is believed to have served a specific purpose. The two best-preserved groups of ruins, the columns group and the church group, are located toward the northern end of the site. Here you’ll find more of Mitla’s best stonework mosaics where you’ll even see traces of the original red paint and plaster.

The 16th century Church of San Pablo, built by the Spanish using materials from the ruins in its construction, sits right in the middle of the archaeological site. Located just outside the entrance to the ruins are several shops and a small open-air craft market.

While you’re in Mitla, you’ll also want to try the local mezcal, an alcoholic beverage made from the agave cactus that is native to the Oaxaca region.


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