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Introducing Mitla

A modern Zapotec town surrounds the unique ruins of Mitla, 46km southeast of Oaxaca. The ruins – a Zapotec religious center dating mostly from the last two or three centuries before the Spanish conquest in the 1520s – are partly covered by a colonial church and tell a vivid tale of the region’s past and present. The geometric stone ‘mosaics’ of Mitla, the site, have no peers in ancient Mexico: the 14 different designs are thought to symbolize the sky and earth, a feathered serpent and other important beings, in highly sophisticated stylized forms. Each little piece of stone was cut to fit the design, then set in mortar on the walls and painted. Many Mitla buildings were also adorned with painted friezes.