The capital of the state of Oaxaca lies in a wide valley at the foot of Monte Albán, the “White Mountain” of the Zapotecs with its legendary gold treasure.
Oaxaca’s beauty, the architectural harmony of its colonial centre (World Heritage since 1987), the diversity of its cultural traditions and the mild, spring-like climate have attracted visitors from all over the world for decades.
Oaxaca is best explored on foot, car traffic is banned from the streets of the historic centre, and you can take a break at any time of the day in the restaurants and cafés in the tree-lined squares or in the shady patios of colonial buildings.
The main attraction among the monuments of the world cultural heritage is the former monastery Santo Domingo, whose extensive complex now accommodates the “Museo Regional de Oaxaca”. The private collection of pre-Columbian sculptures by the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo is also worth a visit, as is the house of one of the most famous and popular presidents in Mexican history – Benito Juárez – which has been converted into a museum.
The most important date in the festival calendar is the Guelaguetza, a thanksgiving festival in honour of the maize goddess Centeotl, which goes back to Zapotec traditions. Every year, thousands of beautifully dressed dancers and musicians from all regions of the state meet in the large arena on the Cerro de Fortín.
The city also owes its popularity to its gastronomic culture, galleries, numerous museums, handicraft and antique shops, one of Mexico’s busiest main squares, and a wide selection of good hotels in all price and comfort categories.
In the surroundings of Oaxaca you will not only find Monte Albán but also impressive archaeological sites, villages with a long tradition of handicrafts and densely wooded mountain landscapes, ideal for hiking.