One of Oaxaca’s main attractions in terms of destinations is without a doubt the capital city that shares the same name of its state. Oaxaca de Juarez is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the country and also a humanity cultural heritage. It features archaeological zones, convents, baroque temples, civil buildings dating from the colonial age and museums; as well as an array of religious festivities with typical festivities and celebrations.
Magic and mysticism can be felt all over some of its main attractions like the much praised archaeological zone of Monte Alban where you find the Great Plaza, Ball Game, Danzarines Building, South Platform Palace, Tomb 7 and the Cultural Museum of Oaxaca; other archaeological zones are Mitla, Dainzu, Lambityeco and Yagul. As far as historical architecture, the buildings that stand out include, Oaxaca Cathedral, Temple and Former Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman, San Felipe Neri Temple and cultural enclosures such as Culture Museum, Filatelia Museum, Rufino Tamayo pre-Columbian art museum, Photographic Center Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Graphic Art Institution and the Casa de Juarez Museum.
Anyone who’s willing to challenge their skills, may find in this destination the best natural settings for ecotourism, camping, mountain biking and the opportunity to experience an amazing balloon flight; not to mention the festivities, which can‘t be forgotten along with the Guelaguetza show when visiting Oaxaca.
The municipality that was hometown of one of the most celebrated presidents of Mexico, Benito Juarez is a prominent place with old fashion feeling, though with the most advanced facilities to make your leisure time an agreeable time.
This millennial tree has an average age of 2000 years, a height of 131.2 feet, a diameter of 170.5 feet, a volume of 24,896.85 ft³ and an approximate weight of 509 tons. The Zapoteca legend tells that it was planted about 1400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehecatl, god of the wind. “Tule” means “Tree of Illumination”. One of the main characteristics of the tree of Tule is that in it the inhabitants have found different types of figures like: the head of the deer, the head of the lion, an elephant and crocodile, among many others.
Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan is a municipality in the state of Oaxaca that belongs to the region of the Central Valleys and has some municipal agencies like the San Antonio Arrazola, situated 10 km from the highway to Zaachila.
Commonly known as “Arrazola”, this place is famous for the production of alebrijes: a Mexican art craft invented by Pedro Linares Lopez in 1936 in Mexico City.
It is made with different types of paper or carved wood and painted with joyful and vibrant colors. Most of the times, the alebrijes represent an imaginary animal formed by physical elements of different animals. Even when you can use different techniques to make one of these alebrijes, in San Antonio Arrazola the wood carving is the one that people use as it comes from the Zapoteca ancestral era and it is a knowledge passed from generation to generation.
In this place, the people’s cleverness can be seen in the copal wood to create a fantastic zoology… “Alebrijes” that are exhibited and sold in the artisans’ own homes.
The Dominic temple and the former convent of Cuilapam de Guerrero seem, in the distance, a fortress that dominates the valley where they are located. These were built on a small hill with spectacular view. The wide walls of green stone and river stone keep a great part of the history of the encounter of different cultures in silence: the Spanish, the Mixteca and the Zapoteca. Today, the former convent is a quiet place where steps produce echoes in the hallways and the chambers, but is easy to imagine the place filled with movement of the Dominican monks, walking, praying, preaching, studying or making their everyday labors.
There are mural paintings, most of them in black and white, in the interior walls of the former convent. There are also paintings of priests in the second floor and that unfortunately are almost lost because of the effect of the passing of time. The National Institute of Anthropology and History uses many of the rooms in the second floor as restoration workshops.
An important page in the history of Mexico was written in the backyard of the Convent of Culiapam; Vicente Guerrero, second president of Mexico, was executed after being betrayed in Acapulco and brought to Huatulco, today La Entrega Beach because this historical event. He was delivered to the Spanish and taken to the former convent of Cuilapam where he was incarcerated and executed on February 14th 1831.
Oaxaca is characterized by its particular way of seeing death and November 1st and 2nd become days of celebration as we accompany our dead loved ones and we receive them with altars full of typical food, mole, tamales, chocolate, seasonal fruits, the unmatched egg yolk bread or “bread of the dead”, mezcal, beer and cigarettes; the entire altar is aromatized with copal smoke and embellished with colors like purple and orange, as well as objects related to the death such as sugar skulls, candles to light their way and the cempasuchil flowers.
It is a tradition to overnight in some cemeteries and put everything on the person’s grave, so it becomes a unique show.
The last two Mondays of July (with exceptions) an ethnic encounter between the 8 regions of the state takes place, showing the world their traditions through folkloric dances at the Fortin Hill.
This is a tradition of over 80 years and is a true celebration filled with color and mysticism; during these weeks there are also other events like the Mezcal and Tejate Fair, arts and crafts, as well as other cultural and artistic expressions.
The town of Santiago Matatlan is located in the region of the Central Valleys, 56 km (about one hour and twenty minutes) from the city of Oaxaca, and belongs to the district of Tlacolula. It is located in the coordinates 16º 52´ latitude north and 96º 23´ de longitude west, with an altitude of 1,740 meters above the sea level.
Nowadays Santiago de Matatlan is known as the “World Capital of Mezcal” and the population depends economically on the production of mezcal and the harvest of the maguey mezcalero (Agave Potatorium). The national norms certify that the production of mezcal must be sold with 45 to 48 grades of alcohol at least. Nevertheless, mezcales of up to 60 grades are produced for local consumption.
Hierve El Agua is a system of petrified waterfalls formed by calcium carbonate. Their origin is natural and they were formed thousands of years ago by the running down of water with high mineral content. The place is located approximately 50 km from the city of Oaxaca, in the town of San Isidro Roaguia, municipality of San Lorenzo Albarradas, state of Oaxaca in Mexico, in the area nearby the archaeological site of Mitla and 630 km from Mexico City.
It is also a place of archaeological interest since it possesses a complex irrigation system and terraces built by the Zapotecas about 2,500 years ago.
The water has a 25°C temperature and the waterfall reaches a 12 and 30 meters height. The spring that gave origin to the waterfalls was used to form a great swimming pool that at the present works as natural thermal bath. Plus, in the area there are some natural wells where you can have a pretty good view of the petrified waterfalls.
The internationally treasured rugs of pure wool are elaborated in this place, dyed with natural colorants from plants, stones and insects. The wooden loom is used to create these rugs.
The Santo Domingo de Guzman Temple in the city of Oaxaca de Juarez is an example of the novohispanic baroque architecture. The first construction projects of the building date back to the year of 1551 when the city of Oaxaca donated to the Dominic order a total of 24 lots for the construction of a convent in the city. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1608 when the Santo Domingo Temple was inaugurated, unfinished.
Throughout history, the Santo Domingo Temple has been the scenery of many important events in the history of Mexico: it was turned into a military warehouse, a barn, closed to the catholic cult in times of the Jacobean secular era of the governments of the Reforma War, and then returned to the church by orders of Porfirio Diaz. In 1979 received the visit of the Pope Juan Pablo II and then declared, along with the entire Centre Historic of Oaxaca, a Cultural Heritage of Humanity Site.
This plaza exists since 1520, sketched by Juan Pelaez de Berrio. After this, Alonso Garcia Bravo took it as a reference or center of the new urban trace of Villa de Antequera. During the entire colonial government, the plaza had neither cobblestones nor pavement, just a marble fountain placed in 1739. The fountain was removed later to put a first kiosk that, in 1857, looked like new, surrounded by a small grove of trees. In 1881 a new mend and ornamentation was done, excluding the grown trees. In September 15th 1885 the statue of don Benito Juarez was inaugurated, placed at the center of the plaza, once the kiosk was removed. In 1901 it was reformed, placing the actual kiosk with modernist or art nouveau influence. Its design reflects also the ambience of the Porfirian era for its structure and metallic cover, as well as its forged iron railing. Sanitary services and some businesses were placed under the kiosk in 1967; in the exterior, fountains with very suggestive shapes were placed to later be changed for capricious figures of green stone.
The Plaza de la Constitucion dresses up during popular celebrations, mainly in December 23th, the Night of the Radishes (Noche de los Rábanos); in September 15th the shout of independence and in December 24th Christmas’ Eve, among other important celebrations. Every day is good day to enjoy a tour, because of its central location, surrounded by the portals: Benito Juarez, de Claverias, de Flores; also surrounded by the Palace of Government and by the continuity of space that the atrium of the cathedral and the Alameda de Leon give, along with its streets that allow and invite to walk throughout them as the vehicular transit is forbidden in this area.