Attractions in the central valleys of Oaxaca
Around Oaxaca City there are also plenty of things to see and do. Many people use Oaxaca City as a base and set out to see the surrounding areas. There are established routes which pass through various places of interest that that lie in a particular direction; organised tours use these routes as the basis of their packages.
So why not take a trip out to see some of the master artisans at work? See the rug weavers in Teotitlán, the black pottery in San Bartolo Coyotepec or perhaps the knife makers of Ocotlán. If Crafts aren’t your thing why not visit the mystical ruins of Mitla, Monte Álban, or many of the other smaller ruins around Oaxaca City? Perhaps you would like to see some natural attractions? Why not visit the gigantic tree at Tule, the petrified waterfall of Hierve el agua, or even take a trip into the mountains? Why not have a look around some of the small agricultural towns in the central valleys, or peruse the colourful markets and experience their sights, sounds and flavours?
Whatever your taste there is something for you to see.
Places to visit around Oaxaca
Hierve el Agua is a petrified waterfall made from calcium carbonate deposits over thousands of years, and is therefore not a waterfall in the traditional sense of the word; though spring water does flow there and there is a man-made swimming pool there which is fed by the spring. Because of its uniqueness Hierve el Agua is a very popular Oaxacan attraction. More detailed information about Hierve el Agua can be found on its page in the waterfall section.
Santa María El Tule is a village just outside Oaxaca that is most famous for the giant cypress tree that grows there known as el árbol del Tule for which we have more information on the flora section of this site. The economy of Tule pretty much revolves around tourism generated by this spectacular natural attraction. Historically El Tule was important for lime production but that has now changed.
Find out more about Santa María El Tule
San Pablo Villa de Mitla is a small town about a forty minutes’ drive from Oaxaca City that is home to the famous Mitla ruins, the second most important ruins in Oaxaca State. Aside from the ruins Mitla also has a church which dates from the 16th century and is built on top of a large pre-Hispanic ruin just outside the main ruins site. The economy of Mitla depends principally on tourism generated by the Mitla ruins to fuel the sale of cotton textiles that the village produces.
Find out more about Mitla
Zaachila is a small town steeped in history and tradition. It has a very traditional, thriving market that dates back to pre-Hispanic times; it was the home of Zapotec King Cosijoeza and his son Cosijopii who ruled Zaachila at the time when Zaachila was still the capital of the Zapotec Kingdom. Zaachila also has an archaeological site much of which is still unexplored.
Find out more about Zaachila
Etla has to offer an archaeological site that was once the Zapotec capital of the Valles Centrales of Oaxaca, a renowned market day on Wednesday, a large 16th century church and most importantly Etla is the birthplace of quesillo. Etla also has a number of swimming pools in the area where you can cool off when the sun gets too hot.
Find out more about Etla
Tlacolula is a large town about half an hours’ drive from Oaxaca City that is most famous for its incredible Sunday market, and the local speciality ‘barbacoa’ which is a very tasty dish indeed. Tlacolula is also noted for the quality of its forged iron. Tlacolula came about after the relocation of the inhabitants of Yagul upon the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century.
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San Marcos Tlapazola is a very small village near Tlacolula in Oaxaca that produces a terracotta style pottery that is used from everything from piñatas to figurines to kitchen utensils. San Marcos Tlapazola also has a 16th century church.
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Arrazola on the outskirts of Oaxaca is famous for the alebrijes that it produces. The village of Arrazola is quite small and aside from the alebrijes there isn’t much there. Alebrijes are curious, fantastic, carved wooden animals that are generally brightly painted. We have a page devoted to these fantastic creatures in our handicrafts section.
Find out more about Arrazola
Most notably Cuilapam is home to the ex-convent of Cuilapam which is definitely worth a visit. In the grounds of Cuilapam monastery is a statue of the Mexican Independence General Vincente Guerrero who was famously imprisoned there and executed there in 1831. Cuilapam is the origin of the Danza de la Pluma (Feather Dance) which is well known for its elaborate head dresses, and there is a statue of a man doing the ‘Feather Dance’ at Cuilapam village.
Find out more about Cuilapam de Guerrero
The village of San Bartolo is just outside Oaxaca, it’s a small village with a big craft. It is the location where the famous black pottery is produced. Aside from the production there isn’t much more to say about the village, there is a nearby hill called ‘Jaguar Mountain’ which is considered sacred and it is home to the MEAPO museum (Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca). San Bartolo is almost solely focused on black pottery production.
Find out more about San Bartolo
Teotitlán del Valle is a smallish village about half an hours’ drive from Oaxaca City that is most famous for its hand-woven textiles and in particular rugs. It also has a small museum, a market, a church, a small archaeological area next to the church, and a picturesque small revoir and dam behind the village. Teotitlán del Valle is a Zapotec village and thought to be founded around the second half of the fifteenth century.
Find out more about Teotitlán
Santa Ana del Valle is a small village near Tlacolula in Oaxaca that is known for the production of hand-woven wool rugs. There is also a community museum and a church with a large selection of figurines of Saints.
Find out more about Santa Ana del Valle
A map of the places of interest around Oaxaca City
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