The archaeological site at Mitla, Oaxaca are worth exploring even if you have visited dozens of other Mesoamerican ruins in Mexico. Find out why the intricate stone pattern make the Mitla ruins one of the best day trips from Oaxaca City.
The stonework at the Mitla ruins are so detailed that we here at DIY Travel HQ would expect to find the designs on a local weaving instead of decorating a temple.
* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Mexico. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years. It’s the best-value provider we’ve found but there are other important things to consider. Check out our post and find out which of our claims were successful or denied.
Before Visiting the Ruins at Mitla, Oaxaca
The Mitla ruins are approximately two kilometers north of the bus station.
Ask for “las ruinas” if you do not have GPS or a downloaded offline map from Maps.Me. You know you are close when you walk along a chain-link fence with temples inside on your right, and see a church not too far ahead.
Iglesia de San Pablo is noteworthy as the Spanish, in a show of power, dismantled many temples and used the stones to construct the church.
On the opposite side of the church is a free example of the stone designs found throughout the five groups of ruins in Mitla.
Upon entering Grupo del Norte (the main ruins at the Mitla Archaeological Site) you find yourself in the middle of a plaza admiring the stone artwork as Iglesia de San Pablo looms in the background.
This site is free & the designs are very indicative of what you will see if visiting the paid section of Grupo del Norte.
You also get the experience of traveling through a tunnel to a hidden plaza.
We also recommend Lonely Planet’s Mexico Travel Guide to help you plan your trip.
Mitla Archaeological Site
For those that want to see more, admission to the Grupo de las Columnas is 65 pesos / $3.70 – this is the main site at the ruins in Mitla, Oaxaca.
Tickets can be purchased at the office at the north end of the cactus park. They are checked upon entrance into the Grupo.
Inside are two main structures, and each is believed to have housed priests or dignitaries.
Patio Norte is the first ruin you come across.
Admire the stonework on the exterior before entering the plaza.
You will notice large slabs over the Sala de las Columnas’ doorways, which are even more impressive when you learn the stone came from the nearby mountains.
Hidden behind the entrance are six massive columns that were used to support the roof.
Tucked down a small tunnel is El Palacio.
The hidden square and surrounding chambers is what allows the government to charge an entrance fee despite offering a sample for free.
Almost the entire area is filled with stone patterns.
Even the inside of the chambers is lined with stonework.
They also have a reconstructed wood roof that mimics the original design.
El Palacio is one of the most impressive parts of the ruins in Mitla, Oaxaca.
The other main area in the Grupo de las Columnas is known as Patio Sur.
Here you will find another plaza similar to Patio Norte, but in greater disrepair.
The highlight are two tombs that you can explore.
The insides have been emptied, structurally reinforced, and showcase more stone artwork.
Climbing through the narrow passageways is what was missing from the Monte Alban ruins, closer to Oaxaca City.
The only other section of the Mitla ruins worth visiting is Grupo del Arroyo.
However, these pale in comparison to both Grupo del Norte and Grupo de las Columnas.
Their main appeal is that they are located along the road to the ruins.
How to get to Mitla, Oaxaca Ruins
Mitla is easily reached via bus (18 pesos / $1.00, 1 hour) from the Oaxaca 2nd-class bus terminal or along Boulevard Jose Vasconcelos (Highway 190).
Camionetas to Hierve de Agua (40 pesos / $2.25, 1 hour) can also be caught opposite the Mitla bus station, but require 7-8 passengers to depart.[put_wpgm id=279]
*** The Final Word – The intricate stonework at the Mitla ruins is worth seeing up-close. However budget travelers can visit the Grupo del Norte for free, and sneak a peek through the fence of Grupo de las Columnas to save 65 pesos! ***
Under what conditions do you feel ruins should be restored and recreated?
Easy DIY travel outside city centres using public transport
Visited in April 2016