When you tell people who know Mexico you went to Oaxaca they always ask if you saw Monte Alban and Mitla. For years, those two ancient sites have been seen as the ultimate Zapotec places to visit.
Perhaps no more!
Soon people will also be asking if you’ve been to Atzompa, a recently uncovered site overlooking the Etla Valley, so new to visitors that it is still free to visit.
Located about 30 minutes outside of the city center, Atzompa was a separate satellite city of Monte Alban founded between 650 and 850 C.E. Currently there is a Casa de Oriental, Casa de Altares, and a central shrine that is bigger than what you’ll see at Monte Alban.
There are also three ball courts, one of which is the largest in the Zapotec Empire. Scholars believe, based on its size, that the Atzompa ball court, rather than the one at Monte Alban, was the most important stadium in the area.
All told, Atzompa is not a place just to visit. It is a place to experience. For me, it is every bit as spectacular as Monte Alban, and there will be more to come as archeologists are continuing to work the site. Ball courts, residences, altars, and even an oven once used to fire pottery are already on magnificent display.
Know before you go… First off, if walking is not for you, neither is Atzompa. The parking area is about 100 meters from the entrance. Then you have another 100 – 150 meters, all uphill to the first level of this multilevel, multitiered site. Take water with you as there is currently no snack bar or water available. Finally, take plenty of sunscreen as there is precious little shade available.
When you leave… After a day hiking around, you’ll be hungry. One of the best places to eat and try out out some of the best tlayudas in Oaxaca is literally around the corner, Tlayudas San Jacinto. Go and enjoy a great lunch, an ice cold beer and time with your friends after a great morning at Atzompa, one of the newly uncovered treasures of Oaxaca.