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Exploring Mexico; the Historic Center of Oaxaca and the Archaeological Site of Monte Alban

Inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the Historic Center of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Alban. The property is located in what is known as the central valleys of Oaxaca, a depression formed between the Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre del Sur.

Oaxaca City

Oaxaca City was initially referred to as Antequera and was founded in 1529. It was occupied by a group of Zapotec Indians and is a classic 16th century colonial city. The city still retains the Checkerboard layout that was popular among the Spanish in the 16th century. The layout is square and has blocks and portals on all four sides of square.

For the construction of the city, a trace was effected. Midway between the rivers Jalatlaco, Atoyac and Cerro del Fortin became the central plaza from which the city was developed.

The center of the city is still the economic, social, religious, cultural and political center that gives the city its dynamism. It still has its original architectural marvels. A total of 1200 monuments with historic value have been inventoried and listed on the World Heritage Sites. The monuments include churches, patrician town houses; whole streets that are lined with ancient dwellings, etc. form an ensemble that awes many a visitors.

Note that the fine 19th century buildings were the birthplace of Benito Juarez in 1872. It is from him that that the city adapted the name, Oaxaca de Juarez. Due to its location along the earth fault lines, the city is characterized with building that have thick walls and low buildings.

Monte Alban

This is the most important archaeological site in the whole of Oaxaca Valley. The area has been inhabited for 1500 years by succession of natives such as Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs. It features dams, pyramids, artificial moulds, canals etc.

From 500BC to 850 AD, the Zapotec capital thrived. Unfortunately, for reasons yet to be established, the city was abandoned. Today, it is an archaeological site with a series of monuments such as ball court, tombs, bas reliefs, temples hieroglyphic inscriptions etc.

Apart from the historic city, you will also find a ceremonial center that was constructed during the Monte Alban II period and the Monte Alban III period. In general, Monte Alban is a classic example of Mesoamerica architectural designs.

You will rue your missed opportunity if you do not get a chance to see this amazing and historically endowed region.

 

By Kennedy Runo about Mexico, Missouri

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