Oaxaca: A place full of history and culture.
January 1, 1970
by Manne Felici
Oaxaca means “huaje” a common plant of the valley region and “yaca” means “nose”, the sufix c equals tepec “place” and this means “on top of the huajes”. Thanks to the Spanish conquerors it stayed as Oaxaca.
There´s so much happening here, it has the most amazing food and places to eat all around the city, from a very nice restaurant like Casa Oaxaca to a little fonda inside the market, the greatest arts and crafts of the region like pottery, black clay, alebrijes, rugs and handmade ethnic dresses; a lot of cultural stuff going on in their well known galleries, the most beautiful temple I´ve ever seen and lots of mezcal!
Azul Hotel Boutique:
21 rooms from which 5 are suites designed by Toledo, Leyva, José Villalobos, Luis Zárate and Jorge Dubon. The chef, Jose Luis Diaz told us that in the menu there are some recipes from the 8 regions of Oaxaca.
A traditional building with colonial architecture around an open patio with very nice rooms, a pool and great cuisine.
There´s around 50 galleries around Oaxaca and you can find the art of world known artist like Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo or Rodolfo Morales along with younger creators in this spaces.
A beautiful colonial house from the VXIII century with the artist tribute room. He was a surrealistic painter that used various elements from the “magic realism” in his work.
Created in 1992, it has been the house for contemporary artist like Dr. Lakra, son of the well-known Francisco Toledo and many more. The work exposed as well as the rooms are quite something. The museum also has a sculptural courtyard where lectures and occasional film screenings and performances take place.
Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO):
It´s an institution that houses one of the greatest and most important graphic arts of Latin America. It also has a library, a film club and a photographic center.
MUST SEE & DO
Matatlán is the municipality of Oaxaca that historically concentrates the cultivation and production of this drink. You have to check this place out so you can see the way it is still being produced. The one that got my attention was the “chicken breast”, this is a white mezcal named this way because in the distillation process they add chicken and a special fruit combination to the mixture.
In Nahuatl tongue this means: “Land of the Gods”. We get to know Nelson that is the owner of the most famous rug fabric of the region and showed us how he elaborate the colors as “grana cochinilla”. Nelson manages to get 300 colors all from natural materials using different things that exists in nature, this is just a wonderful and enriching experience and one just ends buying something, you´ll see.
Barro Negro San Bartolo Coyotepec:
Mrs. Rosa was the first to give the shine to the black clay when she accidentally discovered that the ceramic could be polish with quartz. Don´t let any one fool you, there are just 20 families that produce this kind of shiny black clay, and the others are polished with shoeshine. This hand made piece is made in 30 days. The ones that are grey handle the water, the black ones don’t.
“Alebrije” means “tangled and fantastic thing”. The woodcarving is an ancestral tradition of the Zapotecs, which gets to its highest expression with the elaboration of the alebrijes; surreal and magical pieces that came only from the imagination of his creator. When you are there you just have to let go and feel free to let the alebrije choose you. Mine was a spectacular owl.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo:
A beautiful ex convent, which is the biggest and most important construction from México. On the top floor you can find the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca with 14 rooms of permanent exhibitions and 13 thematic ones. One of my favorites things to see was the Tumba 7 from Monte Alban where the famous jewels of the region are and different objects that expresses the features and the continuity of this millennial culture that came from the zapotecas, mixtecos, mixes, huaves, triquis and more. On the side of the building is the Botanical Garden, a dream come true, I married there =)
El Arbol del Tule:
This famous Tule tree (from the ahuehuetes family) has more than 2000 years, it´s trunk has a 45 m circumference and a 40 m height. There are kids as tourist guides explaining the images on the tree trunk in a very singular and funny way.
Oaxaca has around 4,000 sites of this kind and it´s impossible to go to even a quarter of them but there are 2 places that are imperative to visit not just for the historic value but for the beauty it emerges.
Monte Alban or White Mount:
It get it´s name from the cazahuatle flower, that starts to flourish in November and looks like a kind of cotton that turns the mount all white. My favorite place of all Oaxaca, you can feel an impressive energy when you get in the center of the buildings. There´s a wonderful acoustic, there, you can speak normally and the guy in the other building can hear you without forcing it.
Place of the dead and the most important ceremonial center after Monte Albán. There´s a very famous stone called “Stone of Life”, the legend says that depending of the space left between your hands when you embrace it, is the time of life you have… Of course I didn’t try it!
Also, don´t left empty handed. There´s a lot of beautiful stores where you can find handmade dresses like Silvia Suarez, fine jewelry like Oro de Monte Albán and in every single corner you will find amazing shopping.