Mexico: Monte Alban
Set high atop a mountain, overlooking the Oaxacan Valley, Monte Albán is peaceful and has a beautiful view. What’s most incredible is the way in which Monte Alban was constructed. Built around 500 BCE, ancient Zapotec builders shaved off the top of the mountain to flatten it. They then used the shaved mountain stones to build the impressive pyramids and temples.
While there is much to explore at Monte Alban, I was especially fascinated by the ballcourt. Here, the Zapotec would have played juego de pelota, an ancient ball game. This sport was played by various MesoAmerican cultures including the Maya of nearby Belize.
In Juego de pelota teams battled one another with the goal of putting a rubber ball in a hoop using only their hips. This game was used to settle disputes and sometimes determined who would be sacrificed to the gods. Sometimes the winners were sacrificed! Even though I am super competitive this is one game I would be happy to lose!