A UNESCO World Heritage City
Cortes selected Oaxaca as his prize for conquering Mexico. The Spanish influence is very much in evidence today in this beautiful town. Its heart and soul is the zocalo, or main square, where free concerts of marimba music take place in the evenings.
There is a long list of sights in an around Oaxaca. The Church of Santo Domingo is one of the highlights of Mexican baroque architecture. Next door is a cloister which houses the Regional Museum with the treasures of Tomb 7 of the Zapotec pre-Colombian site of Monte Alban. Not to be missed is the Rufino Tamayo Museum, a gem of an archaeological collection donated by the famed Mexican painter Tamayo, a native of Oaxaca. The Basilica de la Soledad is a massive 17th century church dedicated to the patron saint of Oaxaca, the Virgin of Soledad. Inside stands the black stone statue of the Virgin dressed in a black jewel-studded cape. According to the faithful the Virgin has supernatural healing powers.
Outside the city is the ancient Zapotec Indian ruin of Monte Alban. Established by the Zapotecs, then occupied by the Mixtecs in 950 the site consists of an enormous central plaza, temples, ball courts and tombs. There is an excellent museum on site. Nearby is the impressive site of Mitla. This site is known for its intricate mosaic work of small stones that adorn the main temple. These abstract designs are of unbelievable precision and delicacy. On the road to Mitla one passes the Tule Tree, a cypress tree some 140 feet tall and estimated to be 2,000 years old.
Other excursions outside Oaxaca are San Bartolo Coyotepec, the center for Oaxaca’a famed black pottery, and Santo Tomas Jalieza famous for its cotton textiles.
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