Oaxaca is a state located in southern Mexico on the pacific coast just west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This area is the traditional home of the Zapotec (ancient native people of Mexico) and Mixtec(mordern day people of Mexico) people making this state contain more speakers of native languages then any other Mexican state. Before the arrivals of the Europeans the Zapotec people controlled the area until they were conquered by the Mixtecs in the 13th century. These cultures developed very complex societies and built several fascinating temples, such as Monte Alban, Mitla, Guiengola and Huijatzoo. During the mid-fifteenth century the area was conquered by the Aztecs and in 1496 the Aztecs built a garrison in the area naming it Huaxyacac, which was later changed to Oaxaca by a Spanish miss understanding of the name.
One of the most famous people in Mexican history, President Benito Juarez, was born and raised in a small village in Oaxaca.The Mexico City International Airport is named after Benito Juarez. Also many famous artists and writers have come from Oaxaca.
Today tourism is Oaxaca's main source of income. With over 250 kilometres of beaches, amazing colonial architecture, ancient ruins, crafts, densed jungles, wildlife and stunning folk art, there is plenty to do in Oaxaca. The best time to visit is to catch one of the amazing local festivals.
Oaxaca is at the Sierra Madre Del Sur mountain ranges. This results in a rugged mountainous terrain, which created a large temperate central valley.
Oaxaca (City) is the capital and largest city in the state. The city is home to amazing villages, ruins, mountains and deserts. Also the city may be the best place in Mexico to experience traditional Spanish and Indigenous crafts, arts and food.
Tehuantepec is a smaller city that has some nice ruins near it.
San Pablo Villa de Mitla is home to some amazing ruins and an interesting blend of cultures.
Juchitan de Zaragoza is an interesting city that is the centre for Zapotec culture.
San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec is the second largest city in the state and has a nice Cathedral.
Salina Cruz is a major seaport.
Huatulco is a major beach area along the coast of the state.
Puerto Escondido was only created in 1928, this beach has crystal clear waters. It is also home to some great surfing and one of the best nightlife's in all of Oaxaca.
Ruins in Monte Alban,Oaxaca
Monte Alban is a large pre-Columbian archeological site that is one of the oldest cities in all of Mesoamerica, being founded in 500 BC. The city was abandoned by the 9th century although small scale re-habitation did happen over the next few centuries. Many of the later groups even used some of the tombs and temples again but for different purposes. The site is mainly on top of a hill and a good day trip from Oaxaca .In 1987 Monte Albán was made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guiengola is a much later Zapotec site built after 1350 and 14 km north of Tehuantepec. There are several tombs that were never located in this site.
Beaches here are a great place for some amazing coastline, surfing and relaxing.
Colonial Architecture can be seen in the historic colonial buildings in many Oaxacan cities.
FESTIVALS IN OAXACA
Guelaguetza or Los Lunes Del Cerro
This pre-Columbian holiday has changed into a celebration of of the Virgin del Carmen, the city and state of Oaxaca. The celebrations is always the two consecutive mondays after July 16th. Except when the monday falls on July 18th, which is the day Benito Juarez died, then the holiday will be on July 25th and August 1st. There are concerts and festivals held the entire month of July in honour of the holiday.
Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Celebrated on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, the 1st and 2nd of November, this is a holiday to remember the dead. Pick up a sugar or chocolate skull and have a good time.The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexcio where where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.
Oaxaca-Xoxocotlan Airport (OAX) is 10 km south of the city centre with the majority of flights to Mexico City. There are limited flights to other Mexican cities like Huatulco, Cancun, Tuxtla, Gutierrez and Tijuana.
Puerto Escondido Airport has direct flights to Oaxaca, Mexico City and several other cities in Mexico.
There are many bus connections to Oaxaca. From San Cristobal you can take a nightbus which takes about 12 hours.There are also many connections to Puebla, Mexico City and Veracruz.
Food in Oaxaca
Due to the mix of cultures there is some great food to be found in Oaxaca. The state is known as the "Land of Seven Moles'' because of its variety of food choices. A great variety of fruits and vegetables are frown in the central valley, while tropical fruits are found in the north and fish and shellfish dominate the cuisine along the coast. Oaxaca is also known for its amazing and ancient mexican cusine made with chocolate and chilli mixed chicken curry known as Mole Sauce
The mexican Manly Drink Mezcal
Oaxaca is the place to drink Mezcal, a typical drink from this region. You will see the big Agave(Cactus) plants everywhere and from this plant they make the drink.
In the Mezcal bottles you will find a worm on the bottom. Swallowing one of these worms is enough to get you really drunk.