Welcome to one of Mexico’s most beautiful and vibrant cities. A colonial city with a lovely, tree-shaded central square, El Zócalo, Oaxaca is the heart of a region whose highly creative populace produces the country’s finest range of crafts and some of its most exciting contemporary art. Artists and artisans alike are inspired by the state’s deep-rooted indigenous traditions and by its bright southern light. Oaxaca has top-class museums, lovely architecture, charming inns and hotels and its own flavorsome version of Mexican cuisine. The easygoing southern pace breaks out into frequent lively fiestas, and there’s some event going on in the streets or plazas almost every day.
The city is surrounded by fascinating archaeological sites and by colorfully traditional villages and small towns. The dramatic valley and mountain landscapes provide abundant opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding and climbing, and good active-tourism operators and successful rural tourism programs make it easy for visitors enjoy these experiences.
Despite its cultural riches, Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s poorest states, and the city is the stage on which many of the unresolved tensions between the largely mestizo ruling elite and the largely indigenous poor are acted out. The city’s fringe settlements of migrant villagers are as impoverished as any in Mexico, and the violent confrontations between the state government and protestors here in 2006 highlighted Oaxaca’s deep economic and political divide. The troubles wiped out the city’s important tourist industry for more than a year, but by late 2007 calm, and the tourists, had returned.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
Tips & articles
6 September 2012