Monte Alban is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site located in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Arguably the most majestic of Oaxaca’s ancient ruins, Monte Alban, meaning “White Mountain,” is an ancient Zapotec capital with a spectacular mountain top location overlooking the valleys of Oaxaca.
Being one of the most culturally and historically significant places to visit in Mexico, the site received UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition in 1987.
The pyramids, temples, plazas, and other residential structures all center on the Great Plaza, which offers excellent 360-degree views of the city and valleys below. Across the way, the north platform, home to the largest complex of structures at Monte Alban, rivals the Great Plaza in size and offers the best views of the surrounding area.
Along the eastern side you’ll find altars and a ball court. While towards the west, ceremonial platforms line the border, including the earliest known structure at Monte Alban that houses the site’s most important discovery, a series of rock carvings known as Los Danzantes.
At the far north end, near the entrance, is an area with tombs, some of which have been excavated revealing a variety of paintings and stone carvings. There are 170 known tombs in Monte Alban and a collection of artifacts discovered in them is on display in the Regional Museum of Oaxaca in nearby Oaxaca City.
Close to the nearby ruins of Mitla, Monte Alban is an authentic look into the lost world of Mayan civilization and, at times, a haunting representation of Mexican history and its former ancient glory.