5 Essentials in Oaxaca City
Are you considering this capital, recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site? Here we give you five basics for making the most of the architecture, culture, and culinary delights!
1. Admire the City’s Religious Architecture
The most important religious building in the city is, without a doubt, the Catedral. Its facade is made of green cantera (Mexican volcanic stone), upon which dozens of fine sculptures and reliefs are found in reddish tones (the most spectacular is the central relief, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption). Another magnificent ecclesiastic complex in the Oaxacan capital is the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, a robust edification dating back to the end of the 16th century, dotted with an imposing Baroque entranceway. Finally, don’t forget to admire the Basílica de la Soledad on Avenida Independencia, considered by many specialists to be the magnum opus of the Mexican Baroque in the southern region of the country. You will be delighted!
This magnificent complex, built between 1555 and 1666, consists of two areas: the temple and the convent. The temple’s facade is a Renaissance work. Inside, the Baroque adornment provides an explosion of shapes and colors. The convent currently houses the Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, a cultural center with four attractions: the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca (Museum of Oaxacan Cultures), the Biblioteca Fray Francisco de Burgoa (a library), the Hemeroteca Pública de Oaxaca (a public newspaper archive) and the Jardín Etnobotánico (the ethno botanic gardens). Don’t miss it!
3. Walk Along Plaza de la Constitución
Lined with 18th-century ash trees, Plaza de la Constitución is a beautiful complex framed by elegant arches from 1529. During Maximilian’s rule, he ordered the construction of a curious kiosk, which was then replaced by another in the time of Porfirio Díaz. In the Plaza de la Constitución, also called ‘Plaza Central’, you can sit and drink a hot chocolate, coffee, or beer, and enjoy the traditional dishes offered by any of the restaurants housed inside the archways. A tranquil experience you can’t go without!
Mercado Benito Juárez is located one block south of the Zócalo. As well as sorbets and aguas frescas (fresh fruit water), in this market you will find artisanal leather products, hats, and cutlery. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is better known as the ‘food market,’ because of its stalls akin to fondas (traditional Mexican local eateries). Indispensable: tlayudas con tasajo (large toasted tortillas topped with many ingredients, including Oaxacan beef), mole enchiladas, pan de yema (egg yolk bread), hot chocolate made with water, chapulines (grasshoppers fried in chili and garlic), queso fresco (fresh cheese) and quesillo (traditional Oaxacan cheese, with a texture similar to mozzarella).
This is the tourism nucleus in Oaxaca City. You will come across museums, art galleries, boutiques, hotels, restaurants, study centers, handicraft stores (remember to buy a typical alebrije, or a delicious bottle of mezcal), and much more.