Oaxaca’s Mesoamerican legacy makes this state one that is rich in pre-Hispanic settlements. Monte Albán, the largest of them all, offers visitors a panoramic view over what life was like in the greatest Zapotec settlement in the region. These magnificent ruins saw their apogee around 750 AD, and still retain an striking, sacred atmosphere.
Mitla was the second most important ceremonial center, inhabited principally by priests. The archeological zone includes a market and a museum with interesting Zapotec relics. Meanwhile, the largest ball game court in the state – and the second-largest in the Americas – may be visited in the nearby ruins of Yagul.
Oaxaca also boasts significant reminders of the colonial period. The Open Chapel of Cuilapan, for example, is a Dominican building dating from the 16th century, with a very unusual architecture.
In the center of the Oaxacan capital it is possible to appreciate one of the gems of the Baroque architecture of New Spain, the church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, a complex built by the Dominican order in the 16th century. This, together with the entire historic center of Oaxaca and the ruins of Monte Albán, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Though Santo Domingo is the most famous and most visited of Oaxaca’s religious buildings, the whole state is dotted with interesting churches and missions.