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Monte Albán, Arrazola

4.0 stars


Building J

This building is quite famous in the archaeological study of Monte Albán. The Gran Plaza runs in a north-south direction, with all buildings, except Building J, placed squarely in relation to the Gran Plaza. Thus, the other buildings are square with the cardinal directions. Building J stands at a 45 degree angle to the other buildings on the hilltop. It is believed to have been an observatory, but the pointed end, which points to the southwest, has been a source of speculation for decades. Some say that if it were an observatory, the pointed end should face one of the cardinal directions.

Building J is not only famous for the speculation it has caused. It is also known for the tunnels inside. Figures and hieroglyphs have been found on its walls. These are believed to have been used to record military conquests. [more ]

Los Danzantes

Los Danzantes, "The Dancers" in English, are large stone slabs with figures and hieroglyphics carved on them. They have been named Los Danzantes because the strange contortions of their bodies make them look like they are dancing. The most prevalent theory about these figures is that they represent slain enemies. I have heard another theory that they may represent some of the more important figures in Monte Albán at the time. I am not an archaeologist, but this theory was much more appealing to me than the idea that the figures were really enemies contorted in a gruesome state of pain. Whatever the true inspiration for the carvings, they are fascinating from a historical aspect and are worth seeing when visiting the site. [more ]

Taking Pictures at Monte Albán

You can get great photos of Monte Albán from nearly any of the tall structures that line the Gran Plaza. The North Platform is one of my favorite places from which to take pictures of the site. You can get great photos of the Gran Plaza and nearly all the main buildings on the site from this vantage point. Between the North and South Platforms, the North Platform is the largest. It includes Building B and a sunken patio.

My other favorite place from which to take pictures is the South Platform. You get a view from the opposite end of the site and photos taken from this vantage point include a great view of Bulding J, which cannot be seen as well from the North Platform.

If you walk to the edge of the hillside you can get great pictures of the Oaxacan valley below. [more ]

Impressive Monte Alban

While it does not receive the same notoriety as Chichén Itzá on the Yucatán Peninsula, Oaxaca's main archeological site, Monte Albán, is definitely worth a visit. This site is about nine kilometers outside the city and sits atop a hill in the center of the Oaxacan valley. It is surprisingly large, with the Gran Plaza being approximately 300 meters long and 200 meters wide. Not only does the museum provide a wealth of information on the ancient Zapotec capital, the site itself affords a beautiful view of Oaxaca and the surrounding valley below. While stunning at any time of the year, I prefer to visit in the summer, when the grass is green. [more ]


Monte Alban is a fascinating site in the area of Oaxaca. You can go there by an organized tour or on your own. Take the bus to reach a village up on the mountain. From there it´s a nice walk to the entrance. It´s also possible to hitchhike. On the site you have a breathtaking view over Oaxaca and the surrounding area. But also the Temple itself is very impressive. There is a restaurant with a nice terrace and a museum up there. [more ]

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1. Guelaguetza 7.22 mi
2. Cathedral of Oaxaca 7.73 mi
3. Llano Park 7.73 mi
See all Attractions in Arrazola
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