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Home » Spanish Schools in Latin America » Mexico » Playa del Carmen » The City

The city of Oaxaca

Information about the City of Oaxaca in Mexico | don Quijote

Oaxaca is known for its thriving artisan community best seen around the Zócalo, the colonial center's main square. Its diverse population consists of over a dozen ethnic groups like the Mixtecs and Zapotecs, who bring the city to life with a variety of traditions, dances, music, languages and cuisine. All this is present in numerous museums, art galleries, open-air markets, outdoor cafes, restaurants and picturesque cobblestone streets

Oaxaca de Juárez is the capital of the state Oaxaca and it is situated in the central valleys, at height of 1560 metres above sea level. It was named a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Oaxaca has a mild climate all year round, which usually is a round 22ºC; although in winter it can reach to temperatures such as 16ºC. The city itself has very old origins (2000 years) and it was first inhabited by the Zapotecos and later by the Mixtecos who used to avoid the Mexica domination. In the last years of the reign of the Aztecs, just before the arrival of Hernán Cortés, the city was colonized by families from Tenochtitlán and this gave rise to the customs of the Aztecs.

After the arrival of the Spaniards the city transformed into a colonial style city and was given a new structure. The architect who designed it was Alonso García Bravo. The city centre became the central square or as they call it in Mexico the Zócalo. This was alienated with regards to the four colonial points. In the place where the dead were placed for Aztecs the cathedral was built, and in opposition to that, civil and buildings were built. Therefore a balance between the spiritual world and the earthly world was created. This balance would then extend like a magnetic field through the streets of the city without the need of walls for protection from an attack and it has been that way ever since.

The Zólcalo or Main Square is the center of life in Oxaca. From a very early hour its terraces fill up with people where they drink coffee from saucepans with cinnamon and sugar cane and the people walk and enjoy the gardens. The streets also fill up with many peddlers who have every type of trinket to sell including aromatic herbs to healing medicines.

Oxaca is an extremely clean city. Its main street, the hotspot for the tourists has lots of foot traffic. It starts from the Main Square and leads to the Santo Domingo temple. In this street the Contemporary art museum can be found and many old colonial residencies, galleries, jewelry shops, craft shops and restaurants. At the end of the street there is the Regional state museum. Also in the city there are museums which keep safe treasures from its old history.

The markets of Oaxaca are very important, for example the 20th of November is dedicated to food tasting typical of culture.

From Oaxaca one can visit many other pre-Hispanic cities like Monte Albán, Mitla, Tagul and Lambityeco. Santa María de Tule can also be visited; the place where the oldest tree in the world is conserved. The botanic gardens have been estimated to be more than 2000 years old, 40 metres high and 42 metres circumference

Moreover, places like the convents diminicos de anuhuitlán, Teposcolula, Coixtlahuaca, Tamazulapan, Tlacochahuaya and Tlacolula can be visited. And from Oaxaca there is regular transport which can take tourists to the splendid beaches of the Mexican Pacific in half an hour.

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