Mexico / Classic Mexico / Oaxaca
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oaxaca

„Oaxaca – Mexico’s finest.“

This phrase is often heard, and indeed, we also think that there is hardly any town more beautiful in North America. Our guests often start their visit of Oaxaca on mighty Monte Albán. The morning mist has not yet settled, and the fascinating place is still wrapped in a strange silence. Accompany us to the Zapotec and Mixtec world. The ruins, which are spectacularly situated on an artificially flattened ridge, are surrounded by a circle of terraces, houses, temples and tombs that cover the slopes of the hill. This is where the common people once lived. The huge temple mound had been settled for more than 1,000 years before the Zapotec abandoned it about 900 AD. The center is said to have had about 50,000 inhabitants in its heyday (500 to 800 AD). The Mixtec conquered parts of the state of Oaxaca and Monte Albán in the 10th century. The invasion of the Mixtec, whose weapons killed the members of the local dynasty, is highly likely to be related to the abandonment of Monte Albán. A center like Monte Albán could not be held without a dependent hinterland.

We now go to the center of Oaxaca. The magnificent church of Santo Domingo and the Museo Regional de Oaxaca welcome you to stay. The Dominicans came to Oaxaca in 1535 and began to build a large monastery and its church in 1556. The strong walls and added reinforcements ensure that the church can resist almost any earthquake despite its heavy barrel vault and dome. Today, the former monastery with its splendid staircase, the traces of frescos on the walls, and, in its yard, the generous roofing covering the remains of the well accommodates the museum. Certainly among the most impressive finds displayed in the museum are goldsmiths’ works from tomb no. 7 (1250 – 1480 AD) of Monte Albán. Pearls assembled from hemispheres, little bells, drop-like pendants, and little blossoms and buds from the noble metal are among the rather simple forms. The Mixtec goldsmiths’ masterpieces include heads of men or gods, sometimes made using the cire-perdue technique and adorned with filigree details. Not only noble metals were very much appreciated, though, but also green stones, which were considered a symbol of life: jadeite, serpentine, and turquoise. Stroll the wonderful and very romantic narrow streets and visit the bustling Mercado Juárez. Allow the colorful town and its people to cast their spell on you.

Mitla – The significance of this “place of the dead” is not yet clear and shows how much knowledge has been lost in the darkness of history. All the buildings probably stem from the Zapotec; the Group of the Columns with the Patio of the Mosaics (Patio de las Grecas) is considered one of the greatest highlights of pre-Columbian architecture in Mexico. Mitla was the seat of the “Great Seer” and thus the religious center of the Zapotec for many years. The environment of Mitla is today marked by picturesque little markets where woven fabrics are the principal merchandise for sale.

Between Oaxaca and Mitla lies the peaceful village of Santa María del Tule. Next to the small church in the center of the village, there is an enormous ahuehuete tree, which has grown more than 36.2 m (119 ft.) round during its about 2,000 years’ lifetime. The nuns’ homemade liqueur is a true insider tip.