About a 30 minute colectivo ride from Oaxaca City (so very close by excursion standards) sit the ruins of Monte Alban.
This was one we’d had penciled in our ‘To Do’ list from before the trip was underway, so with some expectation, also comes the danger that the place may in fact disappoint…
Still, as another UNESCO site, surely that suggests the place is pretty worthy of our time, and given its lofty perch, we were pretty excited to get amongst the ruins and check out the views of both it and the countryside it once commanded.
Given that it was only recently that we’d visited Xochicalco, it gave us something similar for comparison, where Monte Alban probably claimed the grander heights, there was an undeniable charm with Xochicalco’s isolation…
Still, the first impression of this place, was pretty good indeed.
Its plaza was grand, and the buildings large and numerous, even included an astronomical observatory!
With Oaxaca being the first place we’ve encountered to be bountiful with tourists, it was no surprise to find this place busier than many we’d visited… missing our first bus by 5 minutes and being forced to wait an hour probably did little to help either!
That said, the scale of this place meant that it still didn’t feel too crowded, and with a little patience and clever use of camera angles, it wasn’t too difficult to leave the bulk of the sight see-ers out of the frame.
There were some pretty decent carvings and sculptures as well, the majority now replicas with the originals safely tucked away in the sites museum, or at others even further afield. To be fair, there were still a few original pieces, at least some of the ones they can easily keep protected from the elements.
We wandered around for a good while, even running into one of our Mexican friends from Tijuana (who we’d met on the previous days trip to Mitla and Hierve el Agua) wandering around the ruins as well.
The place was peaceful enough, that even the urchins trying to peddle their ‘genuine’ relics from the site were respectful enough to only ask once, rather than badger you to make a sale (this is something we have encountered at most of Mexico’s smaller archaeological sites).
When we decided our time here was done, there was little for us to do but check out the museum (which was only a brief distraction as it was one of the more disappointing museums we’ve visited) before waiting for a colectivo back to town.
Monte Alban is literally the end of the road, so all we needed to do was simply wait at the same place in which it had actually dropped us off…
* Whilst there are plenty of tours, this place is incredibly easy (and quick) to get to independently. Colectivo buses run hourly (on the half hour) from Calle Mina for the cost of $50.00 pesos per person return.
* For the return trip, colectivos stop at the ruins at the same point at which they drop you off (the ruins are essentially the end of the road)