Yagul (known as Pueblo Viejo locally) is an archaeological site in Mexico’s Oaxaca region inhabited by the Pre-Columbian civilisation of the Zapotecs.
History of Yagul
Although the exact time of their first occupation of this area is unknown (sometime between 500 and 100 BC), it is thought it was primarily inhabited following the fall of the nearby Monte Alban. Most of what is seen today was built between 750 and 950AD. Yagul was still in use at the time of the Spanish Conquest, and descendants of its inhabitants still live in the nearby town of Tlacolula.
The site was excavated in the 1950s and 60s by Mexican archaeologists: some of their findings are on display onsite today. A large number of underground tombs and graves were discovered as part of these, which have provided insights into burial practices and Zapotec rituals.
It is clear from the remaining parts of its fortress wall that Yagul was heavily defended, helped by its position atop a hill. The fortress (fortaleza) itself is worth climbing for views of the whole site. Lower down the hill, visitors can see what was once its central plaza, surrounded by several palaces and temples. Also in this section is a site known as the Triple Tomb or ‘Tumba Triple’, one of many tombs found in Yagul. Visitors can ask to view the Triple Tomb, as long as escorted by one of the guards.
Yagul draws far fewer tourists than Monte Alban primarily because it has undergone less excavation than its counterpart, but is worth seeing if only for the peaceful nature of its setting which makes viewing its sites a calmer experience than many in the region. The site has one of the best ball courts in Latin America, as well as a labyrinth of a palace, thought to have been built for its leaders.
Getting to Yagul
The site is located some 30km out of Oaxaca City: unless you have your own transportation, there’s a 1.5km walk from the main drag to the site. Buses run in this direction from Oaxaca and they’ll drop you on the main road.
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