Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer 2007 Car Trip - 14

Next up on our agenda were the ruins of Mitla, located in the town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla, about 26 miles southeast of the city of Oaxaca.

Our route took us through the flat, dusty hot roads in one of the valleys that ring the Sierra de Juarez.

We once again had to cross a different section of indigenous land. I was particularly impressed with how they made fences out of cactus. Ever since I saw this, I refer to this type of cactus as fencepost cactus. They are cheap, easy to maintain and certainly keep the livestock in the yard!

Although the area of Mitla has been occupied since time immemorial, the ruins we see today were built during the post classic period of 900-1519 BC. In the typical Spanish style, most of the buildings were taken apart and a Catholic Church was built on the spot, made out of the bricks and blocks of the previous culture's building.

This view out the door of one of the main buildings shows two things: how far they could see into the valley and thus be warned of approaching marauders and how small these people must have been. These doorways were all only about four feet high.

The different chambers were long and narrow. I was impressed that the interior of the buildings was as well and intricately decorated as the outsides were.

Besides a Blogger at work, we see here the columns that once supported the ceiling.

More shots of the outside of buildings. Notice that some of the original color still remains.

These motifs were so drastically different from what I am used to seeing here on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mayans here used more gods and hieroglyphics in their decorations.

One of the more interesting features available to the tourist at these ruins is the burial chamber. There is a hole in the ground of the central square around which all the buildings are placed. There are steep, narrow stairs that lead down to a tiny opening in the wall. Maybe 3' x '3 at the most. This is actually the opening of a tunnel that you either have to crawl along or do a duck walk. This only lasts a short distance (though it seems longer when you are in it!) and then you can stand up. Well, not for me. But if you were 4' 2" or smaller, you could have. Most of us had to walk around crouched over to view the various burial chambers. There were three of them, arranged in a T formation. There were still cement caskets in them but I seriously doubt that any priest still was in them. Who knows though.

After a very hot but decidedly interesting visit, we loaded up in the van again and headed out for the next stop......a mezcal factory!

To get a slightly more in depth overview of the history of Mitla, go here.


Charles Sipe said...

Those are amazing. What is your favorite place that you have visited in Mexico?

wayne said...

Charles: that's a hard question to answer. I have several places that stand out. One being the Baja Sur peninsula. The other is a tiny little village south of Acapulco called Juan Alvarez. Favorite city? Probably San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. But this list could change at any point!