The golden era of the Mixtec and the Zapotecs resonates like an echo in San Pablo Mitla, a magical town in Oaxaca that will take you back to the past through its buildings and vibrant energy.
Only 30 miles from Oaxaca City, it is perfect for a day trip when you are visiting the state capital. Look for us at City Centro Oaxaca, a lodging concept that is all about repurposing and preserving old, colonial buildings.
If walls could talk…
The Mitla archaeological site is, no doubt, the main attraction. It is a great example of architecture telling the story of a place. Underneath the front decoration, unmistakably Mixtec, the buildings’ foundations reveal an even more ancient Zapotec past.
Mitla goes back to the first years of our era, when the first settlements flourished. After the fall of Monte Alban as a political center, around 800 A.D., Mitla became the main city for the Zapotec civilization. When this cycle was over, Mixtec groups inhabited Mitla for another period of time.
The front of the buildings, decorated with beautiful fretwork, reveal a cultural influence that can be traced back to Monte Alban and even before that, to the mother civilization of Teotihuacan. Another thing that makes Mitla unique is the fact that the ruins are juxtaposed with the colonial architecture.
A small town that tastes like mezcal
The Church of San Pablo is the inescapable view that greets you into the town. Build on top of a pre-hispanic temple, this sixteenth century building will capture your attention immediately. Its bronze-colored domes stand out as the most distinctive architectural feature.
At the Frisell Museum, you’ll be able to appreciate the art of the ancient Mixtec and Zapotecs. This place contains one of the most impressive collections of art and objects from these civilizations.
The local crafts market is the best place to find clothes, sarapes, hammocks and other goods made with artisanal looms.
Finally, you must try out the exquisite local cuisine. Scrumptious moles of all colors, segueza (corn and pork stew), liver and eggs, everything joined by delicious, young mezcal, coming in from the nearby factories.
As a last tip: if you have some time left, do swing by Hierve el Agua, a site located only 6 miles from Mitla. The view of the valley and the petrified waterfalls is spectacular!