In the captivating state of Oaxaca, just outside the stunning colonial gem of Oaxaca City lie two magnificent archaeological sites: Mitla and nearby Monte Alban.
Less prestigious than the nearby counterpart of Monte Alban, Mitla lies to the southeast of Oaxaca. You can also visit the nearby and very famous “El Tule” tree—said to be over 2,000 years old—making it as old as some of the archaeological ruins in the area. (The tree is located in a town called Santa Maria del Tule, just a few miles outside of Oaxaca, on the road to Mitla.)
About 27 miles (46 km) southeast of Oaxaca, you’ll find the ruins of Mitla, just outside the town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla.
The ruins are of Zapotec and Mixtec origin, and the architecture here is Mixtec: quadrangle buildings surrounded by patios and chambers and very low roofs.
Mitla was a religious center, run almost entirely by priests who spent most of their time undertaking human sacrifices; often by removing a live heart from the person being sacrificed, and depositing it in a pit of fire as an offering to the gods.
You should only need about an hour or two to see all of the main attractions at this archaeological site. Don’t miss the Iglesia de San Pablo (Church of Saint Paul) in the town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla—with its three domes. You have to walk past it to get to the entrance of the ruins.
Grupo de las Columnas is the main attraction, which includes the Patio de Mosaicos (Patio of Mosaics), the Sala de las Columnas (Hall of Columns) and the Columna de la Vida (Column of Life).
Getting There & Around
By Air – The closest airport to Mitla is Oaxaca. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.
By Car – Mitla is located about 27 miles (46 km) southeast of Oaxaca. Take Highway 190 South towards San Pablo Villa de Mitla. Also see additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.
By Bus – Regular local buses make the trip from Oaxaca to Mitla. The entrance to the ruins are just a little under half a mile behind the main church. Oaxaca is easily accessible by bus from all main cities in the region as well being a fast and efficient journey from Mexico City on a modern, tolled, highway. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.
Opening Days & Times: Daily 8 am to 5 pm. Modest admission charges apply and there are concessions for students, children and seniors. On Sundays, admission is free for Mexican citizens and foreign residents (with proof of residency)
Photography & Video: A permit is required if you want to use a tripod to take photographs at the archaeological site. A small fee is made for the use of hand-held video equipment. Read the section on Mexperience Mexico Essentials about Video & Photography at archaeological sites in Mexico.
Ideal Clothing & Footwear: Wear comfortable hiking/walking shoes with a non-slip sole. Dress with light clothing that allows your skin to breathe.
Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.
Nearby Places & Attractions
Major Cities: Mexico City (closest)
Colonial Cities: Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz
Nearest Beaches/ Resorts: Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen
Other Archaeological Sites: Monte Alban, Chichen Itza, Coba, Uxmal, and Tulum
Mitla is hot and humid. Dress with light clothes that enable your skin to breathe. Bring sun cream, insect repellent and a hat. Take and drink plenty of water at all times.
Weather & Climates in Mexico
Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico
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