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Oaxaca Mexico Tourism

Oaxaca is located in Mexico’s southern region along the Pacific coast, its terrain consists of valleys and mountain chains. Oaxaca is known for its history and culture, you’ll have the opportunity to visit various town and cities inhabited by about 16 distinct ethnic groups. In many of those places, the indigenous people have preserved the traditions and customs of old. First you can visit the city of Oaxaca, the state capital, a colonial city with some of the nation’s most magnificent architecture.

There you’ll see Baroque edifices, green quarry stone constructions and you can visit important museums like the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, which is housed in the Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo. You can also enjoy the city’s traditional fiestas, such as Noche de Rabanos and Guelaguetza.

Oaxaca also has diverse archaeological sites, including the Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, and Mitla, which is known for it fret-ornamented structures. Nearby you can check out the Arbol del Tule, a 2,000-year-old tree that measures 11 meters in diameter. You can also visit the Chacahua Lagoons, an ecological zone with mangroves and beaches, as well as the beautiful bays of Huatulco and Escondido, where you can do all kinds of water sports.

Oaxaca City
is located in Mexico’s southern region in the middle of a zone surrounded by four valleys. Behind the valleys lie three important mountain ranges, which keep the climate mild with an average temperature of 64º F.

In this city, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, you can admire the beautiful architecture of the buildings in the Centro Historico (Historic Center), which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The edifices include la Catedral (The Cathedral), el Templo y ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzman (The Temple and Ex-Convent of Saint Domingo de Guzman), la Basilica de la Soledad (The Basilica of Solitude) and el Teatro Macedonio Alcala (The Macedonio Alcala Theater), among other magnificent colonial and 19th-century constructions. As you visit the main plaza, the numerous establishments surrounding the Historic Center, and the traditional markets, such as Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre, you’ll find all kinds of crafts that come from various regions of Oaxaca. Among the most popular crafts are the colorful alebrijes, swords, wool garments and beautiful black pottery. At some of the more traditional places you can try the delicious local fare, such as tamales, mole dishes and Oaxacan cheese. Another favorite is Oaxaca’s famous mezcal, a regional alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant.

In the city’s surrounding areas, you can visit archaeological zones Monte Alban and Mitla, pre-Hispanic capitals of the Zapotec and Mixtec people. If you visit the town of Santa Maria de Tule, you can marvel at the famous Arbol del Tule (Tule Tree). What’s more, the magnificent natural scenery at Parque Nacional Benito Juarez and the spectacular fossilized waterfalls at Hierve el Agua are certain to impress you. All of these places are relatively close to Oaxaca City, one of Mexico’s most charming cities.

Near Oaxaca City you can visit ancient ceremonial centers of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, the people that inhabited the territory of present-day Oaxaca during the pre-Hispanic era. Among the most important sites are:

Monte Alban Archaeological Ruin – From Oaxaca City take state highway 6 miles to Monte Alban, the ancient capital of the Zapotecs, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO thanks to the structures’ artistic and cultural value. About 3 miles ahead you can visit Zaachila, the last capital of the Zapotecs in the valley of Oaxaca. At this site, two of the region’s most important tombs were discovered. Then, continue 14 miles east until you arrive at the archaeological zone of Dainzu, which is near the town of Santa Maria de Tule. There you can see some stone carvings of five gods and a ball game. About 3 miles southeast you’ll reach Lambityeco, an archaeological site near the town of Tlacolula. This site has more than 200 hillocks. The next stop is Teotitlan del Valle, where you’ll find a road that leads to the archaeological zone of Yagul, which is close to the town of Santa Ana del Valle. At Yagul you can see an amazing ball court, the region’s largest and the second largest of Mesoamerica. We recommend that you allow yourself two or three days to do this tour so that you can discover the many wonders of these ancient capitals.

Monte Alban was the most important pre-Hispanic capital in the Oaxaca Valley region during the classical period (400—800 AD), when it was inhabited by the Zapotecs. The area was abandoned in 800 AD and later became occupied by the Mixtecs during the postclassical period (1,300—1521 AD). The Mixtecs used some of the existing constructions as tombs for their rulers. Among the most important constructions at this site are: la Gran Plaza, which is surrounded by various structures that have been identified as rooms, burial sites and tombs; el Juego de la Pelota; el Edificio de los Danzantes; el Palacio; Plataforma Sur and Tumba 7, where a remarkable treasure was discovered that is currently on display at the Oaxaca Museum of Culture. Other significant structures include buildings J, G, H and I, where it is believed that astronomy was practiced. Because of its important cultural development and its monumental architecture, the UNESCO declared this archaeological zone a World Heritage Site in 1987. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Mitla – 30 miles southeast of Oaxaca City off Federal Highway 190. This place was one of the most important Zapotec ceremonial centers. It reached its height in 1200 AD when the Mixtecs moved in and built some of the most important structures. Among those is the Grupo de las Columnas, where you’ll find the Gran Plaza de Pezelao, one of the most beautiful architectural complexes of Mesoamerica. This construction has multiple frets, an identifying characteristic of Mixtec architecture. Open daily from 10:00 to 5:00.

Dainzu – 12 miles southeast of Oaxaca City along Highway 190 in the direction of Istmo de Tehuantepec. The name of this ancient Zapotec ceremonial center means Organ Hill. It was inhabited from 600 – 1200 AD. The architectural complex includes three edifices linked by stairs, terraces, courtyards and rooms. One of the more interesting sights to see here are carvings that depict the violent activities of a ball game.

Lambityeco – 17 miles southeast of Oaxaca City of Highway 190. This site of Zapotec influence reached its height between 700 – 750 AD. Its principal structures are the Palacio de los Caciques, a tomb where the late rulers were buried, and the Palacio de los Sacerdotes, where you can see two large stucco masks with the image of Cocijo, the Zapotec rain god. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Yagul – 22 miles southeast of Oaxaca City off Highway 190 in the direction of the Istmo de Tehuatepec. This urban center reached its height in 800 AD. It was one of the most important Zapotec capitals. Here you’ll see numerous courtyards, rooms and tombs laid out on a large platform. You’ll also get a look at the remains of the Palacio de los Seis Patios and the Juego de Pelota, considered the largest ball court in the Oaxaca region and the second largest of Mesoamerica. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Oaxaca Huatulco Mexico Travel