Just outside of the city is what was the capital of the Zapotec civilization from 500 BC – Monte Alban. This was our favorite ruin to visit and was huge with incredible views all around. Not sure pictures do this justice but it was so quiet getting there in the morning with this amazing view. The air is crisp and clean and it was so quiet. Very easy to just sit and ponder history.
We also went to Mitla, which is another ruin about an hour away. Nice and located within a very traditional town. Glad we had a car and were heading that way because I don’t think paying for a tour just to see it would have been worth it; although there were some cool tombs to climb into. Stopping at Arbol Del Tule was a good addition when going that way. This is a huge and old tree reported to be anywhere from 1200 to 3000 years old.
The markets were amazing as well. We went to a couple of huge ones and found just about everything for sale including live animals. It was funny to see tiny old ladies in traditional dress wandering around with a shopping bag and a chicken or turkey tucked in with it’s head out (live for now). Great food and very friendly people.
The small towns surrounding the main city are each known for varying handicrafts. One for green pottery, another for black and others for carpet weaving or tapestry and clothing. We went to Teotitlan del Valle a couple of times and had a demonstration of how they gather the wool, card it, dye it and then weave it into carpets. The dying process was all natural using little bugs from cacti and plants.
We also went to a famous restaurant there called Tlamanalli. Run by three sisters who cook traditional Zapotecan food. It was “interesting” to eat. Not sure I’d race back but a lovely building!