As much as Ilhan and I loved being in the city, we didn’t want to miss out on the cool things in the surrounding areas (duh!). On one of our tours, we stopped at Tule to see el Arbol del Tule, the tree with the “stoutest” trunk in the whole world. It’s so wide, I couldn’t fit the whole thing in the frame! It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the tree has been estimated to be between 1500 and 3000 years old. What an old beauty, right? There was also a completely stunning, colorful church right next to it, so different from the old European-style churches that I’m used to seeing.
We also went out to see Mitla, an ancient town that was inhabited at least by the early 900s…it might have been born as early as 100 BC! It’s unique in two ways. One, it is known for it’s beautiful and detailed tombs (which we got to go inside! The passages to get in were literally only like four feet tall.), lined with incredible mosaic that were pieced together like a giant puzzle, without mortar. There is no other site in Mexico that can boast this kind of work. Mitla is also unique in that it was actually still an inhabited, functioning city when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s; most other cities that the Spanish people came across were vacant. Tragically, as is true with most colonization stories, the Spanish destroyed the city and the people with it. The part that struck me the most was that they demolished the holiest of the city’s temples and used the same bricks to construct a church.
The sad story behind the city made the ruins even more haunting; picturing people going about their business between these walls and then everything suddenly changing in the blink of an eye. But traces of them still remain in Mitla…just look at the gorgeous mosaic that must have required such immense skill to assemble. These people left their mark on Earth.
Above is the church that was built with the bricks from the demolished temple. The story is so sad I felt bad taking a picture and admiring how beautiful it looks against the landscape and sky.
Would you rather see el Arbol del Tule or Mitla? Or both hehe.