Step by step through Mitla, the city of the dead - Travel Directory


Step by step through Mitla, the city of the dead

Where the dead lie

Between 950 and 1521 AD, the Zapotec culture erected one of the most impressive settlements in the Oaxaca valley after the sunset of its main city Monte Alban. It is about Mitla or the place of the dead in Nahuatl language.

In Mitla you will find one of the most notable examples of Zapotec architecture, which was embodied in impressive richly ornate palaces.

The archaeological zone of Mitla is considered one of the first anti-seismic cities in Mexico because it was built using monoliths that prevent damage from telluric events that occur in the region.

In this guide, we take you to step by step through the wonders of the ruins of Mitla and the hospitable town that surrounds the archaeological zone

Group of the Columns

This set consists of three courtyards called D, E, F. In these spaces you will see buildings upholstered with frets that were carved with surprising accuracy to decorate the facades.

Inside the main palace, there are a series of columns that originally supported the roof of the enclosure, in this same area you can visit a couple of tombs for Zapotec rulers.

The palace

This was the most exclusive site in Mitla and was used by the ruling class to carry out all its activities.

The inner courtyard of the palace has four rooms where you will appreciate in detail the geometric tapestries that characterize Mitla enhancing its architectural beauty. You will also observe some vestiges of the original mural painting of the interiors.


In Mitla there are two tombs that, after being explored between 1900 and 1907, revealed burials based on the accumulation of bodies and offerings in the same space.

Both tombs are open to the public and in them, you will see the funeral chambers with decorations similar to the facades of the main buildings; one more sample of the sumptuousness of Mitla.

Omen column

Within Tomb 1, there is a monolithic column around which a series of superstitions and legends have been generated. It is believed that by hugging the column, it indicates the time of life that you have left; for this, the monolith must be surrounded with arms and, the distance between the hands to fully embrace the column, gives an idea of ​​the years of life to go. Dare to try!

Artisan market

Upon leaving the archaeological site of Mitla you will find a small handicraft market where you can take advantage to buy an alebrije or delicious prickly pear snow to calm the heat.

Temple of St. Paul Apostol

Mitla's palaces were partially destroyed by Spanish missionaries to use their materials in the construction of the church next to the archeological zone.

Despite this, it is still possible to see traces of an ancient pre-Hispanic walled surrounding the temple. The interior of the church retains part of its original baroque ornamentation.

Typical food

When leaving the church of Mitla to go to the small motorcycle taxi site located next to it. Take one and ask the taxi driver to take you to the Doña Chica restaurant. It is one of the best places to try regional cuisine. His menu includes typical Oaxacan dishes such as cecina enchilada and golden tacos with mole coloradito.

Mezcal factories

A must stop in the town of Mitla are the mezcalerías, where in addition to tasting the typical drink of Oaxaca, you can witness the traditional method for the production of mezcal. We recommend you order a tasting of the different varieties of mezcal.

How to get

When visiting Mitla, you can also take advantage of the visit to the Hierve el Agua eco-tourist park, which is 45 minutes away from the archeological site.

Step by step through Mitla, the city of the dead Step by step through Mitla, the city of the dead Reviewed by Travel Directory on November 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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