On a hill 10km away from a busy Walmart in the city of Oaxaca is Monte Albán, the ruins of a grand ancient city that ruled the region for 13 centuries. From 500 BC to 850 AD, Monte Albán is considered to have been the regional political, spiritual, and cultural capital of the Oaxaca Valley.
Before arriving to Oaxaca I didn’t know of Monte Albán but when I arrived I heard that it was one of the largest ruins in Mexico. I decided to go check it out with Marcelino, Ace of Cakes, who works at the children’s home. Admission was only a couple of dollars and we walked through the gates still not sure what to expect. Climbing up a large set of massive stairs we saw the first glimpse of the ancient city.
Most of what you can see today at Monte Albán was excavated beginning in 1932, though the site had been known before that time. There’s still many of the hillsides yet to be excavated. This is mainly the ceremonial center with temples, tombs, and houses of the elite. At the peak of Monte Albán, it’s thought that there were about 25,000 people living in the city. The historical hilltop ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site and you can read more about the history of the city and the people who lived here on their site.