Oaxaca at a Glance
Oaxaca is a magical city, with millenary history and traditions that invite those who visit it, to explore countless activities: city walks, craft markets, archeological ruins, cultural activities, museums, exotic flavors, colorful views and learning about the artisan cultures and legends of this region of Mexico.
Come and discover Oaxaca!!
Brief overview of the area's history
Since centuries before the entrance of the spaniards, the city of Oaxaca has been a dominant region in many ways. In pre-Hispanic times, the cities of Mitla and Monte Albán were majestic jewels of the Zapotec/Mixtec Indian Lordship. Following the conquest, Hernan Cortez established the Villa de Antequera in the valley, which was given the title of city in 1532. Years later, it was renamed Oaxaca City, and now it bears the formal title of Oaxaca de Juarez. Read More
After the military victory, there was the “Conquest of the Faith” by friars from several religious orders who established in the city. The Dominicans came in 1528, followed by the Jesuits, Franciscans, and Carmelites 168 years later. Territories were allocated to each so that they may build temples from which to express their beliefs, which is why the constructions of clerical and secular origin of those years display a majesty that was overpowering to the indigenous of the time. Today, they are a sample of that historical period’s cultural history; some buildings are still used as places of worship, while others are museums or other cultural centers. Baroque style jewels, such as the Santo Domingo de Guzmán temple, which is deemed one the most beautiful in the world.
Oaxaca City is now one of the country’s most well-known cultural centers.
Throughout the year, a variety of cultural festivals, most notably “La Guelaguetza,” attract thousands of visitors who come to enjoy this festival of dances, music, andsongs, all full of tradition, color, and pride.
Another well-known event is the Day of the Dead, which is observed in the same manner as in other parts of the country, owing to its roots in practices that predate Catholicism but were incorporated into the popular faith of its residents.
Oaxaca is a beautiful Mexico proud of its indigenous roots and customs, its art and culture, its language and history. Come explore the enchantment that Oaxaca possesses in its history, but more importantly, in its people!
The construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption began in the mid-16th century, following the Spanish defeat of the Mixtec Lordship. Read More
It took about two hundred years to build. It is located in the northwest corner of the city’s principal square, El Zócalo or Plaza de Armas.
Its facade is done in a very simple baroque style, with statues and relief on the columns. The cathedral clock was a gift from King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and its mechanism is entirely composed of wood.
Oaxaca’s Zócalo, or Main Square, has housed the majority of the city’s most notable structures. Read More
Juan Pelaez de Berrio designed the square, which has been in place since 1529.
The base plate is the city’s historic center, where you may appreciate its Art Nouveau style kiosk, enjoy the various Cafes situated in its surroundings, various businesses, and its ancient trees, which have watched countless events in the town.
Craft merchants fill the main plaza with all manner of goods that you might bring as a present for that special someone.
Templo de Santo Domingo
This temple is home to the cultural center of Oaxaca’s offices, the museum of cultures, the Francisco de Burgoa library, and the ethnobotanical garden. Read More
The Dominican Order Church was built in 1571 and is a gorgeous baroque-style structure that is regarded as one of the world’s most important examples of this architecture.
Inside, there is a family tree of Santo Domingo de Guzmán in one of the domes, 36 paintings representing Old Testament passages, and many niches housing wonderfully carved sacred symbols.
The church is adorned with magnificent details in its dome and nave, with gold leaf accents giving the work a lavish view, which contrasts with the simpler images made of wood by indigenous people, which provide a simpler touch to all the opulence of the place and is a contrast between the secular vision and the friars’ vision.
This is a must-see on your visit to Oaxaca city.
The temple was built in 1555 by indigenous artisans in green stone, and like many other buildings in Oaxaca, it features a Plateresque-style front with Gothic, Renaissance, and Mudejar components blended with local artistic elements. Read More
The location functioned as the principal edifice for relations between indigenous peoples and the Spanish, as well as the hub of the city’s political, economic, social, and religious life, with a capacity of 20,000 people in its atrium. The complex’s building was halted in 1570, and it was abandoned in the mid-17th century.
The site was well known because it produced the cochinilla colorant, a dye taken from an insect that lives in Nopales, or prickly pears, and was found to the south of the city in the municipality of Cuilapam de Guerrero. It was collected, dried, and crushed, resulting in the majestic crimson red color that became popular among monarchs, aristocracy, and the high clergy. Some interesting facts about the location: there is an inscription on the site that marks the commencement of the work in both the Gregorian calendar (1555) and the indigenous calendar: 10 reeds. A Zapotec princess is also buried someplace in the chapel.
Santa María el Tule
Santa Maria del Tule is a Zapotec-inspired village 14 kilometers from Oaxaca’s downtown. The community is noted for having the largest Tule tree in Mexico and one of the oldest in the world, with an estimated age of 1,200 to 3,000 years. Read More
It comes from the ahuehuete family and may be found in the courtyard of the town church.
It has the greatest diameter on the earth, with a circumference of approximately 14.05 meters, a height of more than 40 meters, a crown circumference of 59 meters, and a weight of 636 tons.
The tree was planted by a priest of Ehécatl, the god of the wind, according to Zapotec legend.
The Tule is celebrated on the second Monday of August.
Basilica La Soledad
This Sanctuary, built between 1682 and 1690, is only six blocks from the city’s main square, or zocalo. It is dedicated to the Virgin of Solitude, Oaxaca’s spiritual patroness. Read More
It is a barroque-style edifice made of green quarry, which was a common building material in Oaxaca. It is considered one of the most distinctive examples of religious architecture during the colonial era, and is thus designated as a Unesco cultural heritage site.
The basilica’s interior features a strong representation of European-style barroque frescoes. The historic and religious museum is located behind the main building, while the ex-convent, which currently serves as the municipal palace of Oaxaca, is located on the side of the basilica.
Every year on December 18th, the virgin of solitude is revered and celebrated by the people of Oaxaca.
ALL ABOUT OAXACA
The months of April to May, as well as September and October, are ideal for visiting Oaxaca. Both seasons, whether spring or autumn, have the nicest weather and the fewest tourists. Winter is considered the biggest season in the city, and many venues will be packed with tourists admiring everything that Oaxaca has to offer; the Easter season is also a popular time.
Oaxacan gastronomy is such a unique combination of exotic and mystical elements that UNESCO classified it as INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF HUMANITY in 2001.
The ancestral knowledge of its ingredients and processes bears witness to the region’s history and legacy, as well as the transformation of its society and the introduction of new flavors by its diverse participants. Eating in Oaxaca is a brilliant experience that not only nurtures the body but also nurtures the soul.
The Seven "Moles"
“Mole” is one of the most distinctive and classic dishes in Mexican cuisine, and Oaxaca has the best selection. Read More
Some are sweet, while others are salty, and some are more spicy than others and the textures differ based on the components.
El Amarillito, El Mole Negro, El Mole Verde, El Coloradito, El Chichilo, El Mole Rojo, and El Manchamanteles are the seven kind of moles.
If you are allergic to peanuts, you should avoid eating “moles”.
The consumption of these small delicacies is a pre-Hispanic tradition that has prevailed for hundreds of years. Read More
Being a high source of protein, this insect is part of traditional Oaxacan cuisine. Roasted or fried, alone or with garlic and lemon, they are used in a variety of dishes, as a snack or grounded with salt to accompany mezcal.
Oaxaca has a wide variety of edible “chapulines.”
In the month of October, they are collected either by hand or with “chapulineras,” which are bag-shaped nets that catch them when they jump.
Dare to taste these tiny yet delectable critters!
The cocoa fruit was given to men, according to an ancient Zapotec legend, by the god Quetzalcóatl. Read More
The Spanish were taken aback when they discovered that the Mexicans utilized the cocoa seed as currency in their daily dealings.
During the colony, Europeans extended its cultivation to several regions of the world.
Cacao is a key element in Oaxaca cuisine, appearing in dishes like black mole and drinks like classic hot chocolate with water or milk. It is being produced in indigenous communities in the Oaxaca Mixteca region using sustainable crops. Cacao seeds are crushed by hand and in stone mills to prepare the traditional chocolate drink, which is then combined with natural components such as cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and chile. It’s also used in a liqueur with Mezcal, which is a great combination.
It may be found at the city’s craft shops and markets such as mercado Juárez, in various presentations and with varying percentages of cocoa, some sweet, others excessively bitter, but always pleasantly delicious.
Mexico’s gift to the world.
Mezcal is a spirit drink from the Mexican state of Oaxaca that is prepared by fermenting the juice of the agaves. Read More
The indigenous people drank it in the form of “pulques”, but its consumption was limited because drinking was severely penalized for the ordinary population, for the priests and nobility, drunkenness was punishable by death.
When the conquerors discovered the region’s mezcal, they taught the locals their distilling procedures, which improved the process and raised the quality of the drink. Mezcals vary in flavor depending on the agaves used in their creation, as well as their combination with other fruits, herbs, or techniques employed during distilling.
It is aged in hardwood barrels for periods ranging from 2 months to 7 years, which gives it its color and flavor. White mezcals, on the other hand, must usually be rested in glass to maintain all of their features and more delicate flavors.
Mezcals are divided into four categories: young, aged, reposado, and white.
The name “Tlayuda” comes from the Nahuatl word “tlao-li”, which means “shelled corn” which is the basis of its elaboration. Read More
It is a 30-centimeter-diameter tortilla with a brittle texture to which various items are added; it is served as an appetizer and is topped with beans, pork or chorizo, avocado, and sauce. It is one of the foods designated as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
One of the state’s traditional foods that you should taste.
Walking through the markets of Oaxaca is a journey full of colors, fragrances, textures, and unique local flavors that can’t be found anywhere else in Mexico.
A must for lovers of typical Oaxaca cuisine, a meeting place for local people full of color, smells and flavors, dedicated almost entirely to the sale of food products or ready-made food.
It is a market where the area's crafts stand out, but there are local products like cheese's, fruit stands, all kinds of vegetables, ,flavored waters like Jamaica and horchata, flowers, the traditional huipiles, skirts and embroidery, alebrijes, and even edible grasshoppers (chapulines) to savour as a snack.
Located on Porfirio Diaz Street, north of the Santo Domingo temple, this market is focused on the sale of fresh produce from the region, its selection of regional food as well as fresh fruits and vegetables is well known by local people.
Oaxaca is regarded as one of the country´s cultural centers. Its museums provide insight into the State´s culture, land, crafts and its prehispanic roots.
Some of them are world renowned; such as the Museum of Culture, which houses the magnificent treasures of the Monte Albán Tumb No. 7.
Visiting them is a rewarding experience, don´t pass it up.
A magnificent architectural and cultural complex located next to the ex-convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, close to the city center. It has an outstanding display of Oaxaca pre-Columbian and colonial history, and its library has an exhibition of regional maps from various ages, as well as a collection of literature outlawed by the Holy Inquisition at the time.
The museum's most important exhibition is dedicated to the Zapotec Lordship of Monte Albán and its astonishing wealth of tomb #7, which has been cataloged as one of Mexico's most important archeological finds.
Because the museum is extensive, we urge that you wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the museum is open to the public.
1a. Cda. de Macedonio Alcalá s/n
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Phone: (951) 516 29 91 / (951) 514 18 25
This lovely and informative museum is housed in a magnificent 8th century mansion that was restored in 2007. A meeting place for customs, art, and design, offering a glimpse into the methods of manufacturing textiles in Oaxaca. The museum has multiple exhibitions that showcase the diverse textiles from the various regions of the state, as well as exhibitions that, in partnership with regional and international organizations, preserve the cultural heritage of the many indigenous people and their worldview.
The maximum length of stay is 60 minutes, and your visit must be pre-scheduled.
Open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Admission is free.
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Phone: (951) 501 88 00 ext. 555 / (951) 501 16 17 ext 110
The Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, located north of the main square in a lovely colonial-era structure, was established on January 29, 1974. The museum was founded by the well-known Oaxaca painter Rufino Tamayo to house the items from his pre-Columbian collection, some of which served as inspiration for his works. This one-of-a-kind collection contains over a thousand pieces divided across five rooms, each adorned in a distinct hue.
The museum hosts a variety of events, concerts, courses, and conferences that provide visitors with a glimpse of the region's cultural manifestations.
Av. Morelos 503
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Phone: (951) 516 76 17 / (951) 516 76 17
The museum, which opened on May 28, 2008, contains six permanent exhibits containing representative items of popular art as well as some modern expressions. The venue displays various textile manifestations, jewelry, and sampling of pieces by national artists such as Antonio Pineda.
Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
Admission is free.
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Tels.: (951) 514 50 95 / (951) 514 49 96
Dedicated to the grana cochinilla and its uses by the many inhabitants of the region since the pre-Hispanic period, when it was used to colour their carmine red garments. The tour begins with an explanation of the insect that gives the colorant its name, the history of the production process, and the uses of the grana cochinIilla, as is then demonstrated how these insects reside the nopales in the museum's greenhouse area, and the process of obtaining the color, its various shades, and the coloring of the threads to make wool rugs is explained.
Open Monday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 17:30 p.m.
Admission is free.
Ávila Camacho 222
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Phone: (951) 514 02
It is a facility with the right environment for enjoyment and information for the little ones in the family, located in Oaxaca's ancient railway station. It has exhibition halls-workshops and galleries dedicated to teaching the aesthetic, cultural, and social disciplines of Oaxacan heritage.
Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
Admission is free.
Francisco I. Madero 511
Barrio de Ex-Marquesado
Antigua Estación del Ferrocarril
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca
Phone: (951) 516 93 88
Teotitlán del Valle is a community in the state's Central Valley, about 30 minutes from Oaxaca. Read MoreThe city retains a centuries-old handcraft culture passed down via generations of craftspeople. One of this craftsman's traditions is the creation of "Velas de Concha," candles created by hand with specially selected beeswax. The wax is melted and sculpted before being exposed to the sun to whiten. To get the correct tone, only natural colors are utilized, and the pieces are formed with wooden tools and clay molds.
Candles are utilized in religious ceremonies or social events such as asking a woman to marry in this region of Oaxaca. Candles also play an essential role in social and religious festivities such as weddings and baptisms. When a family in the area plans a celebration, they usually order a big number of candles, which can take weeks to make.
Clergyman Juan Zarate Lopez taught some of the locals to weave wool around 1530, and that knowledge has been passed down to the present day, resulting in the production of carpets of exceptional quality, designs, and color. Currently, they employ imported wool from yak, alpaca, and angora, as well as fibers like cotton and ixtle.
Each rug is hand-spun on manual looms and can take anywhere from two weeks to two years to complete, depending on size. The elaborate designs testify to each artisan's amazing technique and understanding, imaginatively embodying their ideas in beautiful works of art with colors and shapes.
Years before the arrival of the Conquistadors, the Zapotecs crafted animals out of pieces of wood in and around Mitla. Read More
Mitla is a town with a diverse range of crafts, with wood carving standing out due to the area's long history with the craft. There are a variety of items offered, including amulets, toys, masks, plates, bowls and various utensils.
Textile artists stand out in the community, and the creation of huipiles is a respected tradition.
Huipiles are wearable garments created on pedal looms, back strap looms, or by hand embroidery. Each piece can take four weeks to six months or more to create.
The distinction between the two varieties of Huipil lies in the embroidery, because the symbolism embedded in them indicates the value of the garment and its usage.
All of the colors used in the dyeing of the fibers and the manufacture of huipiles are derived from nature; plants and insects have a role in this process, giving each item its own uniqueness. Some of the materials used are: "Grana Cochinilla" for the red and warm tones, "Indigo from Niltepec" which provides the blue tones, and the combination of these with other minerals, allows to create a wide range of colors that give to this beautiful garment, "the huipiles" its extensive and vivid tones, worn by locals with great pride.
San Antonio Arrazola
Located 10 km from the highway towards Zaachila, this town is famous for the elaboration of the famous "Alebrijes" Read MoreAn artisan interpretation of mythical beings that result from the mixture of all kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, plants and humans. Alebrijes are made from Rosewood or Copal wood, meticulously carved and decorated with various patterns and colors. They are hand-painted and each piece can take several days to make depending on the size of the piece.
There is a museum in town, as well as the studio of Angelico Jiménez, the grandson of Don Manuel Jiménez, who created and sculpted these mythological characters in 1957. This is a must-see location. Since the craftsman moulds the wood from his imagination, everything is conceivable and there are no rules for these beings, which are known globally as a sample of the art and vision of the people of Oaxaca.
San Bartolo Coyotepec
Zapotec-speaking population located approximately eleven kilometers from Oaxaca City. Read MoreToday, it is characterized as a town dedicated to the craftsmanship of exceptional polished black clay pottery, with designs that are one-of-a-kind and unique. There are approximately 700 families in town dedicated to this form of pottery. The extraction of the clay, which is known locally for its fineness, body, and high quality for retaining liquids but is not used in the kitchen, begins the process.
You can visit the local ceramic shops as well as the two artisan fairs, one near the town's entrance and the other in the center.
This artisan town is on the handicrafts' magical trail.
"Hierve el Agua"
“Hierve el Agua,” located in the Sierra Madre Sanctuary, is a natural limestone creation of petrified waterfalls that, when viewed from a distance, provides a magnificent sight. In the area, you will find a spectacular series of waterfalls that are distinguished by their white hue and magnitude; prepare to swim in them and view the scenery in all its glory. The golden tones in the area were caused by thousands of years of slowly deposited minerals such as sulfur, giving them their distinct shapes that contrast from afar in the surroundings. We recommend visiting early since this Oaxaca treasure is quite popular. The site is near the town of Ruagua, 70 kilometers from Oaxaca. Entrance cost is $50.00 pesos per person.
Settlement that existed between the years 1200 and 1521 A.D. Mictlan, or Mitla, is an archeological zone located in the northern portion of the Tlacolula Valley, 40 kilometers from Oaxaca. Read MoreBefore the fall of the lordship of Monte Albán, Mitla operated as a regional trade hub, a focus of political and religious power for the Zapotecs of the valley, and as a nucleus of power until the advent of the Spanish. The main feature of this city is that the facades and internal walls of the structures are elaborately covered with mosaics of limestone rock, generating different frets that provide the area a unique appeal. Following the conquest, the Catholic temple of San Pablo Apostol was built on a pre-Hispanic platform in the city, which acted as a center for the area's evangelical movement. Materials collected from the nearby temples were utilized in its construction.it features a modest exterior, with a baroque-style interior, and two altarpieces, one devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe and the other to Saint John, are integrated.
Mitla is now a living and dynamic town that contains and surrounds a portion of the archeological site , allowing visitors to experience both the past and the present as a daily part of this Zapotec society.
Access fee is $75 pesos.
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The last access time is 4:00 p.m.
From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
The original name of this Zapotec power center is unknown, but it is thought to have been Danibaan, which means "Sacred Mountain," or Danibeejo, which means "Cerro del Tigre." Read MoreIt was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance and natural beauty. The primary site is spread across three natural hills: Monte Albán, El Gallo, and Bonete or Atzompa. The city's heart was represented by a massive plaza known as La Gran Plaza. It is thought that the residents of the area used this plaza for a variety of activities, including trading, and it had a capacity of up to ten thousand people.
The temple of the dancers is placed on one side of the main plaza, and it has a side patio where the famous stelae of Monte Albán are located, some of which exhibit numerical and calendrical glyphs, while others show representative images of the town's military prowess. This Zapotec lordship became one of Mesoamerica's most prominent cities; its origin is considered to be approximately 500 BC, and it served as the Zapotec capital until the 1st century.
The site is located 8 kilometers from Oaxaca City. There is a museum, a restaurant, a handicrafts store, and restrooms in the location.
Access fee is $80.00 pesos.
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days a year.
Archeological Sites Gallery
The Mezcal Route
Oaxaca is one of the country’s leading producers of Mezcal; this magical distillate par excellence is manufactured in artisan palenques located throughout the city of Oaxaca and is known as the Mezcal route. It’s a rustic road filled with dust, smoke, and maguey bagasse.
Those who embark on this journey will begin their adventure in agave growing areas, and visiting their palenques is an activity that will teach you a lot about the agave varieties. There are well-known distilleries where you can view the artisan production processes of the various Mezcals and sample them in their restaurants alongside traditional dishes cooked with local products.
The communities of Mitla and Tlacolula are part of the towns that make up this interesting route, but the best portion of this route is found in Santiago Matatlán, which is about an hour from the city of Oaxaca, where 40% of the world’s Mezcal is produced.
When you return to the city, you can also visit the well-known Mezcalerias. Probably one of the best is the Mezcaloteca, where you can join in a sampling and learn everything there is to know about this elixir of the gods!
After experiencing everything the city has to offer during the day, Oaxaca transforms after sunset to offer its visitors a variety of options for a great night out, from amazing “Mezcalerías” like “La Casa del Mezcal” where you can enjoy their magical concoctions of this exotic spirit, to dancing to the rhythms of Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia in “La Tentación” or enjoying live music, great food, and a lovely roof terrace view in “Txalaparta”.
This colonial city comes alive at night, so explore its roof terraces, cafes, and bars that have stood the test of time since 1935 and are still going strong.