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The official name of the town is San Pablo Villa de Mitla. It had a population of just over 7,000 people in 1990. It is located about 45 km (some 26 miles) by road from the state capital of Oaxaca, Oaxaca. The main group of pre-Hispanic buildings is at the north end of town. Mitla hosts a large outdoor market. The town of Mitla also has a small museum.

Pre-Columbian Mitla
While archeological evidence shows that Mitla was occupied by 500 BC, the earliest construction dates to about 200 AD. Construction of Pre-Columbian style buildings continued up until the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1520s. The town has been continually occupied ever since; part of the more recent town was built over pre-Hispanic Mitla, but some groups of old elite palace complexes remained. The earliest structures at Mitla are Zapotec; the remainder are Mixtec but often display an interesting mix of Zapotec and Mixtec styles. The most famous buildings are decorated with stones cut in repeating geometric patterns, commonly referred to as "mosaics".
Mitla Church

In 1494 the Aztecs conquered Mitla and sacked the city. Once the Spanish took over, they found their efforts to convert locals to Catholicism thwarted by competition from native beliefs, manifesting themselves at ancient buildings such as those at Mitla. To combat the problem, the Spanish built a new church on top of the footprint of a former temple , scavenging the original temple for building materials.

Some excavations and repair of buildings was done under the direction of Leopoldo Batres in 1901. The Mexican government made further excavations of the site in the mid 1930s and the early 1960s. Mitla is a popular tourism destination for visitors to Oaxaca.

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