Located only 10 kilometers away from the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, Monte Albán is an UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once a city inhabited by the Zapotec culture between 1500 BC to 800 AD and one of the most powerful and dominant sites in the central valleys of Oaxaca. According to some sources, the original name of the place was Dani Baá and later called Yucucúi (Green Hill) by the Mixtecos.
During its prime, over 35,000 inhabited Monte Albán and it was also a multicultural city (as many other in Mesoamerica), welcoming other cultures such as Mixtecos, Teotiahuacanos and Olmecas.
The site overlooks Oaxaca’s valley and is located right in the middle of where three branches of mountain ranges meet – Etla, Tlacolula and Zimatlan – and it rests on an elevation of 1,940 meters (6,400 ft) above sea level, giving its visitors a top notch view of Oaxaca’s green landscapes.
The main monument in Monte Albán is the Main Plaza, located right in the heart of the site and measuring approximately three hundred meters wide. The monument is surrounded by ceremonial structures, as well as residential sites and two ball courts.
Aside from all we’ve mentioned, Monte Albán is also famous for the myriad of carved stones found in throughout the site. Many of the stones depict naked fat men, mostly genitally mutilated, in twisted poses and are known as “Danzantes” (dancers). Danzantes are said to represent victims of sacrifice and war prisoners. Many of these carved stones can be found near the L building, but many more (over 300 have been found) can be seen in the site’s museum.