Make the most of the Guelaguetza to get to know the most popular locations of the city of Oaxaca. These places are deserving of a trip on their own merits.
Start in the Zocalo. Also known as Plaza de la Constitucion, or Constitution Square, this remains more or less as it was in Colonial times. The square is surrounded by long-standing buildings whose doorways abound with cafes and other kinds of trade. The Cathedral, standing alongside the Alameda de Leon park, is built from different shades of green quarry stone. Its collection of 16th and 17th Century paintings is particularly impressive.
The Macedonio Alcala Theater, opened on September 5th, 1905, is situated two blocks north-east of the Zocalo. Its renaissance facade and elegant interior will transport you back to distant times and places.
If you get hungry, look for the 20 de Noviembre market, two blocks south-east of the Zocalo. Discover its various stands selling handmade bread and tortillas, as well its large selection of hand-crafted and painted alebrije folk sculptures, black pottery and, in particular, lots of cheese. Order tlayudas with refried beans and tasajo (cured beef).
Directly opposite, the Benito Juarez market offers fruits from the region, aguas frescas made in traditional clay pots and souvenirs from every region of the state.
A few blocks to the west is the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude), with its impressive folding-screen shaped facade. Relax in the atrium of the church, or in Socrates Garden, where you can buy exotic sorbets. The most popular are the chamoy or mezcal varieties.
To the north of the Zocalo, take a walk along the Macedonio Alcala Walkway. This pedestrian street is packed with bookstores, craft shops, small squares, parish churches and museums. At the end of the walkway you’ll find the Santo Domingo Cultural Center. Take in the remote corners of the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman, with its precious barroque art and interior courtyards, remodelled in 1998. There’s also the Ethno-botanic Gardin, which has on display hundreds of live plant species, all of them native to Oaxaca.
To put the icing on your visit to Oaxaca, we recommend a visit to the most important archeological site in the state: Monte Alban. This is situated just an hour along the road, at the top of a hill which sits two thousand meters above sea level. This was once the capital of the Zapoteca civilization.
Admire these huge monuments, with their architecture carefully aligned with the pathway of the stars. Climb to the top of ancient temples to marvel from on high over the green landscapes of the Oaxaca hillside and the delightful picture postcard of the city of Oaxaca.