The Appeal of the Less Popular

Many have heard of the great archeological sites of Mexico; Teotihuacan, Chicken Itza, Monte Alban, Mitla, Palenque. Few have heard of Yagul. And that is just the way we like it.


This region of Mexico is, quite literally, littered with the ruins of previous civilizations. We actually departed for a day of sightseeing intent on an eventual arrival at Mitla. However, as happens, our plans for the day completely derailed when we spotted the signs to Yagul.

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Yagul greeted us with an empty parking lot, and friendly staff. In the cool of the morning we were free to wander at will. First occupied from 500-100 BC, it wasn’t until 500-700 AD that the city offered residential, civil, and ceremonial buildings. A a lovely example of the Zapotec civilization in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, the city didn’t strike us as large, and yet covered a relatively extensive network of buildings, complete with underground tombs and ball fields.


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After the abandonment of Monte Alban, Yagul, along with the better known Mitla, became many of the inhabitants new places of residence,growing the population further. Still occupied at the time of the Spanish conquest, residents were later relocated to nearby Tlacolula, where the descendants of this ancient population still live today.


We split up, each slowly wandering in various directions, taking in the unusual columns of the ceremonial centers, the elaborate carvings, and the gorgeous scene of the valley surrounding us. During our entire time, no other visitors arrived, and we had the place to ourselves. After several busy days of sightseeing, it was absolute bliss.

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We never did make it to Mitla. Not that day, and not during our three weeks in the Oaxaca Valley. Somehow it just seemed too busy, too big, to bother with. Sometimes, when you follow the signs to where you didn’t know you wanted to go, you end up just where you needed to be.

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