Oaxaca's Tourist Guide
Oaxaca's Tourist Guide


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Archaeological Sites

(Click to enlarge)

The tomb
The palace of the six yards
The stone mosaic
The ball game


There is evidence of occupation in Yagul since the Monte Albn I era (500 BC). It flourished as an urban centre after the fall of Monte Albn (800 AD). After a short period of abandonment, Yagul flourished again and became a city-state in the Valley of Oaxaca, which prevailed until shortly before the arrival of the Spanish.

Among the important monuments of this important Pre-Hispanic centre - whose Zapotec name "Ya-gule" means "Dry Tree or Stick" - is the most important ballgame court of the Oaxacan region, and the second most important in Mesoamerica.

The zone is situated around a mountain and it is divided in the three following areas:

1) The Fortress: It is situated on the mountaintop, guarded by natural and manmade ramparts, from which there is an outstanding view of the site.

2) Common Living Area: These are located around the mountain, and have not been thoroughly explored.

3) Ceremonial Centre: It is located at the foot of the mountain and it is remarkable for its unity. It used to be the administrative and religious centre of Yagul. It is a platform integrated by a group of buildings, with a central courtyard surrounded by columns and rectangular rooms. Platforms and buildings are made of stone and mortar, and the floors have mortar and remnants of red paint. The rooms are without roofs, but it is probable these were covered with grates, reeds, and stone slabs. The buildings that form this space are:

Triple Tomb Courtyard: It is formed by a central courtyard and four rooms. In the courtyard is worshipping area and a zoomorphic monolith. Under the western room is a tomb with three funerary chambers: the main one is decorated with fret reliefs and two monolithic human heads on its facade. The door of this tomb is a slab with glyphs on both sides.

Ballgame Court: It is considered to be the biggest among archaeological zones of the Oaxacan Valley and second in Mesoamerica. The court has an "I" or double "T" shape. In the centre of the court, is ball bouncer (stone disc), and to the sides are structures with smooth banks.

Courtyard 1: A central courtyard and four rooms form it

Council Chamber: Rectangular building divided in two sections by circular columns. This building was probably used as a meeting centre for chiefs or important personages of ancient Yagul.

Six Courtyard Palace: Building formed by a manmade platform with six courtyards surrounded by rooms. The latter have central accesses. In one of the rooms is a monolith throne, and in others funeral chambers. Because of the groups of courtyards, it is considered to be the biggest palace in the archaeological zones of the Oaxacan Valley.

Fret Street: The southern wall of the Palace and the Council Chamber form it. The walls present remnants of abacuses decorated with frets similar to those of Mitla.

Yagul: Is located 22 miles (36 kilometres) Southeast of the City of Oaxaca via highway 190 to the Isthmus. After passing the Tlacolula de Matamoros town ( mile, 500 metres ahead) make a left turn, and continue for approximately one mile (2 kilometres). Approximate travel time: [0:50]