The present-day town of Santa María Atzompa(pop. 5,000) spreads over the western end of the greater Monte Albán archaeological complex , overlying hundreds of acres of unexplored ancient remains. The majority of modern Atzompans, however, have little time for the past. They are busy producing their distinctive pottery creations—fetching emerald green–glazed cooking pots, bowls, baking dishes, plates, and more—famous all over Mexico and the world.
Now, however, they make much more than these, having developed a host of new styles such as multicolored vases, some with artfully cut holes for placing dried or fresh flowers, as well as lily-adorned crosses, vases, plates, and red pottery, inscribed with fetching floral motifs.
Atzompa’s artists, moreover, make it very easy to select from their wares, with an inviting Mercado de Artesanías (Handicrafts Market, tel. 951/558-9232, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily), on the entrance road (right side) after a long initial lineup of private stores. Each of the mercado displays contains the name and address of the artist, whom you can contact nearby in town. (Note: Recently, some artists have been trying harder, building individual stores on the road before the official Mercado de Artesanías. For the best selection, however, pass these and go straight to the official market.)
For lunch at the handicrafts market, try the adjacent, airy Restaurant Patio (11 a.m.–6 p.m. daily). They offer an inviting menu of many Mexican country specialties, including a number of moles (with chicken, $4) and the reliable favorite, chiles rellenos ($4).
Get to Atzompa by bus, from the Abastos camionera central segunda clase in Oaxaca City , or by car, heading northwest out of town, along the Highway 190 exit boulevard in the direction of Mexico City. After about two miles (three km) from the city center, follow the Monte Albán  sign, bearing left around the traffic circle, which heads you momentarily back toward town.
Immediately turn right, cross the Río Atoyac bridge, and continue for about half a mile (0.8 km), turning right (north) at an Atzompa-signed intersection. Continue another 2.5 miles (four km) to the Mercado de Artesanías and the restaurant on the right.