A remarkable blend of Old World and deep-rooted Zapotec and Mixtec traditions are gloriously at play in the cobblestone historic center of Oaxaca. You can spend days visiting the city’ 27 ornate churches – which include the Baroque Temple de Santa Domingo de Guzman and its gold-ornamented Rosario Chapel – as well as its overflowing markets. Wander the side streets around the Zocalo and browse the art galleries and craft shops, such as the Mercado de Artesanfas, which brims with embroidered clothing from the region. The Museo Regional de Oaxaca, housed in a convent from the 1600s is one of Mexico’s finest museum, tracing the development of the Oaxaca area from the Olmec period in 1200 B.C.
Oaxaca is surrounded by villages that specialize in crafts: black pottery (San Bartolo), woollen textiles (Teotitlan del Valle), and brightly painted wood carvings (Arrazola). The city is also a culinary mecca, Known for its empanadas, hot chocolate, and seven varieties of the delectable mole sauce. Sample the finest mezcal, the region’s famed smoky distilled spirit, at the atmospheric Mezcaleria los Amantes. For adventurous palates, spicy, fried chapulines – grasshoppers are another local specialty. Food appreciation classes, such as those offered through Casa de los Sabores, have become almost de rigueur for visiting food lovers.
One of Mexico’s most important archaeological sites lies just outside Oaxaca. Ancient Monte Alban was the center of Zapotec culture, which flourished from A.D. 300 to 800. From its Great Plaza, and more than 170 tombs, including Tomb 7, where approximately 500 pieces of gold and precious gems were found (the most prized artifacts are in the Museo Regional).
The 16th-century Convent of Santa Caterina de Siena is now the Camino Real, Oaxaca’s most elegant hotel. Guests enjoy ancient frescoes, jasmine-scented patios, and Los Lavaderos – a water fountain surrounded by 12 stone laundry basins. Another top choice: chic and minimalist Casa Oaxaca, a seven-room inn with with local art adorning its white walls. The owner, Chef Alejandro Ruiz, ingeniously updates Oaxana cuisine, served in a candlelit courtyard at the inn and as well as at a restaurant with a romantic rooftop terrace two blocks away.
WHERE: 340 miles/547 km south of Mexico City.
BEST TIME: Easter week: late Jul for Guelaguetza Dance Festival; Nov 1-2 for Day of the Dead; Dec 23 for Night of the Radishes.
EXPERIENCE: this through Experiential Travel Journeys.Please Call us or Email us.