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| Spotlight Destination
Oaxaca City is the capital of the state of Oaxaca. Oaxaca City receives approximately a million tourists per year.
Oaxaca City is located 520-km (325 MI) southeast of Mexico City, 269 km (168 MI) northeast of Puerto Escondido, and 230 km (144 MI) southeast of Tehuacan.
In the 15th century the Zapotec people lived in valleys in the surrounding area. They named the region Huaxyaca. Hernan Cortez received, as a gift from the King, the valley of Oaxaca for his role in the Spanish conquest. Oaxaca City is the birthplace Benito Juarez, one of the most influential and beloved presidents in Mexican history.
Oaxaca sees approximately 311 days of sunshine per year. The annual average temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit with average lows at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The evenings may be cool enough for a light sweater or jacket. The rainy season last from June until late September. Rainfall is usually a quick shower in the afternoons and occasionally during the night. With low humidity, soft breezes, and year-round spring-like temperatures anytime is a good time to visit Oaxaca.
Many hotels fill up during July, Easter, November and December so its best to make reservations far in advance if youre planning to visit during these times. Rates range from US$27 to US$204 for a villa to US$350 for a suite. Monthly rates may be available at some hotels. The Hotel Camino Real and the Hotel Victoria each have a pool, restaurant, and a bar.
Most locals choose to eat at the market stall as opposed to restaurants. Open buffets, outside dining, unique d?or, friendly staff, delicious foods, and good prices make Oaxacan restaurants a pleasure to dine in.
During the week you can find Andean music, live marimba, or nouveau flamenco in one of the open-air cafes located around the zocalo. Every Friday night, and other days during the high season, the Camino Real Hotel hosts a small version of pre-Hispanic Oaxacan dance. The entrance fee includes a buffet dinner. El Sol y La Luna is the popular place for live music.
Every Saturday there is a covered market that is swarming with thousands of vendors and shoppers from Oaxaca and surrounding towns. You can find items like tropical fruit, chilies and herbs, pottery, baskets, rugs, handicrafts, wooden and tin toys, and clothes and shawls. Each neighborhood has its own market day, and you will find many markets in various squares or buildings. There are several shops and stores around town that sell jewelery, clothes, arts and handicrafts.
You will find that most restaurants base their dishes around Oaxacan cuisine. Some restaurants serve seafood, international, and of course traditional Mexican fare. Try some thin sliced beef, spicy pork, or Oaxacan tamales at the food stalls in the markets.
Banks: Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Several banks cash travelers cheques and have ATMs for Visa Cards. Lines tend to form in the afternoons so its best to arrive early.
Internet: There are several Internet caf? around town. Access is generally US$2 per hour.
Transportation: Taxis are readily available from various locations around town or at taxi stands. The cabs arent metered so you will have to agree on a price before you set out, drivers have tariff cards displaying prices. There are several locations in town, at the airport, and through travel agencies where you can rent a car.
Monte Alban: Located 9 km (5 ?MI) southwest of Oaxaca Monte Alban was once a holy city for thousands of Zapotecs. Estimates say that only 10% of the ruins here have been uncovered.
Mitla: Another site of Zapotecs ruins located 40-km (25 MI) southeast of Oaxaca.
Yagul: Over 30 tombs and a ball court have been discovered in Yagul, which is 36-km (22 MI) southeast of Oaxaca.
The Tule Tree: One of the world largest cypress trees, estimated at 2,000 years old and 140 ft high, is located 14 km (8 ?MI) east of Oaxaca.
|WHERE TO GO:
El Alameda: Vendors sell T-shirts, tapes, snacks, crafts,
souvenirs, and balloons in this shady square.
Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad: This church, built in
1682, houses the statue of the Virgin of Solitude. There is a small
museum that displays artifacts left by patrons
Catedral Metropolitana de Oaxaca: Construction began on this church
in 1544 and due to destruction by earthquakes, it was not completed until
Ex-Convento de Santa Catalina: Now the Hotel Camino Real, this
building has been named a National Heritage Site.
Iglesia y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo: This 16th century church
is said to be the most spectacularly decorated church in the city. There
was a library, caf? and many botanical gardens added after a two-year
renovation in 1997.
Museo de las Culturas: Located in the Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo
this museum houses temporary galleries, a gift shop, theme rooms,
and administration offices.
Museo Casa de Benito Juarez: This museum, where Benito Juarez
once lived as a servant, has been recreated as a 19th century house.
Museo de Arte Prehispanico Rufino Tamayo: In this fully refurbished
colonial mansion you will find a collection of pre-Hispanic sculptures
Palacio de Goberno: Murals displaying the history and culture of
Oaxaca are located in this 19th century state capitol.
WHERE TO EAT:
Oaxacan cuisine, which is spicy, sweet, and flavorful, is famous
throughout Mexican. You can find a unique array of foods and dishes in
Oaxacas restaurants. You will find that most locals eat at the markets
and open air caf? as opposed to traditional restaurants. There are
quite a few excellent and inexpensive eateries located around the main
plaza. At El Asador Vasco, you can choose Mexican dishes such as
Oaxacas famous mole, or more international choices such as fish or
turkey. The Cathedral, a local favorite, is located in a colonial
mansion. Traditional Mexican specialties are served here as well as an
elaborate Sunday brunch. For a quiet and romantic dining experience
try El Colibri. This restaurant is favored among the middle class
Mexican families. The menu is an eclectic mix of Mexican, Italian, and
American dishes such as burgers and fries. For a taste of something
different, such as spinach salad over hibiscus flowers or cream of
chipotle chili, El Naranjo is the place to go. You can also dine on
Oaxacan specialties such as mole, stuffed peppers, and poblano
chili. Paintings and murals from local artists adorn the walls. The
Nuu-Luu, a local favorite since its opening in 1969, serves up hearty
portions of traditional Oaxaca specialties such as sopa de guias, squash
blossom soup and pesacado a la yerba santa, fish topped with onions,
herbs and green tomatoes.
|WHAT TO DO:
Tours: There are many agencies that will take you on a tour of
the city and surrounding towns. You can also hire a licensed guide for
US$5 per hour. Attractions include churches, monasteries, and
Studying Spanish: The Instituto Cultural Oaxaca A.C. offers
classes for Spanish lessons, Mexican music, workshops, and Latin dance.
The Instituto de Comunicacion y Cultura offers private or group
Festivals: Several times per year there is some sort of
traditional festival or celebration. Holy Week takes place during
Easter, Fiesta Guelaguetza is celebrated the last two weeks of July,
on November 1 and 2 is the Dias De Los Muertos, as well as several
festivals in December.
|WHERE TO SHOP:
Oaxaca, and its surrounding villages, are overloaded with markets.
Generally, each neighborhood has its own market day but Saturdays are
the best for handicrafts. At these markets you will find crafts, gifts,
rugs, baskets, chocolate, fruits, clothing and textiles, and black
pottery for which Oaxaca is famous. The Central de Abastos (Supply Center)
sees thousands of vendors and shoppers, so many that its easy to get lost
inside. Sellers from surrounding villages bring their wares to this
market such as shawls, pottery, ceramics, hammocks, shoes, woven baskets,
toys and rugs. Around Oaxaca there are many specialty shops and stores.
For fine arts and high quality crafts, with high prices, try La Mano Magica.
The Galeria Arte Mexicano sells as well as displays folk art, silver
jewelry, and antiques. You will find many good shops selling handicrafts
such as the Corazon del Pueblo, a two-story shop selling beadwork,
tapestries from Nayarit, Huichol Indian masks, flags and English books.
The Artesanias Chimalli has a large collection of alebrijies, carved
wooden animals, as well as other crafts from around Mexico. Many shops
sell mole, a sauce poured over meats, and chocolate, which are both
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