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Information about Oaxaca, Mexico
- Nearly 10,000 foot high peaks, some of the deepest caverns on earth and scenic jungles, valleys and beaches, all help make Oaxaca a unique place to experience Mexico.
- Oaxaca has a population of about 3,600,700. It is situated within the central valleys area of the state with the same name, and sits at a height of 1,560 m above sea level.
- Oaxaca is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, thanks in part to its wonderfully preserved Spanish colonial buildings and closeby archeoligical centre Monte Albán.
- The area receives mild, spring-like temperatures throughout the year.
Oaxaca city is famous for its artisan community, most visible around the main square called the Zócalo. A number of different ethnic groups, such as the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs, make up the city's diverse population. That diversity is reflected in Oaxaca's traditional music, cooking, dancing, and languages along with its wide variety of museums, markets, art galleries and restaurants.
Although temperatures can reach as low as 16º C in winter, the weather is usually mild, remaining around 22ºC. Oaxaca's origins date back to ancient times, when the Zapotecs first settled there around 2000 years ago. The Mixtecs arrived later, avoiding the spread of the Mexica's domination. Finally, just before the decline of the Aztec empire and the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, families from Tenochtitlán colonized the city, which gave rise to Aztec customs there.
When the Spanish arrived to the city, they restructured and rebuilt it in Spanish colonial style, with the main square as its centre. Alonso García Bravo was the architect in charge of designing it. The cathedral was built where the Aztecs placed the dead, opposite which the civil buildings were constructed, thus creating a city structure that balanced the earth and the spirit worlds. The balanced structure supposedly extended a harmonious energy throughout the city, effectively protecting it from possible attacks and eliminating the need to erect protective walls. The structure has remained ever since.
City activity in Oaxaca centers around the main square, where beginning at an early hour, people gather in the surrounding terraces to enjoy coffee sweetened with sugar cane and cinnamon, while some people stroll around the gardens. Venders also add character to the square, selling nearly any kind of trinket imaginable and healing medicine and aromatic herbs.
The main street of this extremely clean city is always bustling with pedestrians, many of whom are tourists eager to explore. The street begins at the square and then makes its way to the temple of Santo Domingo. The street features a number of attractions including old colonial homes, jewelry shops, galleries and the Contemporary Art Museum. Museums elsewhere in the city house treasures from Oaxaca's past.
On November 20th, the city celebrates the region's foods with food tasting traditions, reflecting the importance Oaxacans place on their marketplaces.
Visitors are strongly recommended to visit nearby pre-Columbian cities such as Monte Alban, Tagul, Lambityeco and Mitla. The oldest tree in the world stands close by also, in Santa María de Tule, where the origins of gardens date back 2000 years. Other places of interest include a number of Dominican convents (Teposcolula, Anuhuitlan, Tamazulpan and Tlacochahuaya). Regular transportation connects visitors to gorgeous Pacific beaches that are just a half hour away.