Colonial architecture , Mexico

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Traffic-free, shaded by tall trees and surrounded by elegant portales (arcades), the Zócalo is the perfect place to start soaking up the Oaxaca atmosphere. It bustles with life by day and night, as marimba ensembles, brass bands and roving buskers float their melodies among the crowds, hawkers try to offload pretty carpets and hideous balloons, and lovers parade in slow rounds under the trees, while anyone and everyone sits, drinks and watches from the sidewalk cafes.

The adjoining Alameda plaza, also traffic-free but without the cafes, is also ripe for people-watching with its trinket-toting vendors, street performers and informal clothes market.