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Oaxaca is one of the largest cities in Mexico, and is the capital of the state of the same name. It is a city that is particularly popular for its diverse traditions and cultures, as well as its historical past. Oaxaca is also especially famous for its food, indeed it has been hailed as “Mexico’s culinary capital”.
One of the most exciting cities in Mexico, Oaxaca enjoys a mixture of indigenous and colonial cultures
With numerous historic sites and a World Heritage Site within its walls, Oaxaca, Mexico has some of the most beautiful pre- and post-colonial relics to be found in Mexico
The site of Oaxaca has been inhabited by indigenous populations for centuries, and following the Spanish conquest in 1521 the city itself began to be built. A Spanish commander arrived with some Aztecs who constructed the first houses and churches, and they began to build the cathedral in 1522. From this point there were several disputes between Hernán Cortes, who lead the conquest of Mexico, and those that settled in Oaxaca; indigenous and Europeans alike. Following these disputes, it was not until 1532 that King Charles of Spain declared Oaxaca as a city to be ruled by the Spanish monarchy directly, rather than Cortes; this was deemed a huge victory for the population of the city as they were able to retain the traditions and architecture that today make Oaxaca so special. Mexico gained its independence from the Spanish in 1821, and naturally Oaxaca gained its independence at the same time.
Today, Oaxaca is one of the most popular cities in Mexico for tourists. Typically it is most popular in the summer, thanks to the temperate weather, but due to its location near the equator, Oaxaca has a pleasant climate all year round and attracts tourists in all seasons. It was named a Cultural Heritage of Humanity city by UNESCO, thanks to its innumerable historic and culturally important buildings.
Some of the most notable sites in Oaxaca are the Plaza de la Constitución where you can sit in a café and enjoy traditional Oaxacan foods. Similarly, the pre-colonial city of Monte Albán is particularly famous, as it houses artefacts from thousands of years ago. This ancient city was also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Oaxaca itself. The Plaza de le Danza y Jardín Socrates is also very popular. With beautiful gardens in the centre of the city where artists often go to display their work, and a square that hosts dances and festivals, it is a particularly bustling area and very popular with tourists.
The culinary scene in Oaxaca is particularly famous. The Mercado 20 de Noviembre (20th November Market) is well known for its food products that are made freshly every day and showcase Oaxacan cuisine; moles (traditional Mexican sauces), chapulines (fried grasshopper) and pan de yema (egg bread). Much of the food in Oaxaca is influenced by indigenous and Spanish recipes, while it also has connections to the religious and family-oriented nature of Mexican culture. Tables are often put down the middle of the street, usually on Sundays and Holy Days, and the whole community comes together to celebrate; the traditional Oaxacan dishes feature greatly on these feast days.