The unforgettable city of Oaxaca.
Cradle of a multicolored culture with perennial fascinating enchantment; city whose roots intermix the native spirit and the great construction masterpieces of the spanish colonizers; center of febrile activity that welcomes visitors with unique joy; city of incomparable and tender harmony thanks to the peculiar architecture: the unforgettable city of Oaxaca.
During the times of the colonization the Spanish king, Carlos V, elevated up to the rank of city the place known as Huayacac, nahuatl word whose roots “huaxin”, stand for “guaje”, and “yacatl”, pinnacle, point or beginning”, defined as “point of guajes”. And wouldn’t its own name define it as the beginning of a prominent future in the edifying of the newborn mexican culture.
It would be by 1532 when Huayacac, Oaxaca today, would become one of the most important urban centers of the country. This capital of the state which carries the same name enriched its appearance as centuries went by, treasuring nowadays the eternal jewels, magnificent constructions, majestically erected. And if this wasn’t enough the climate is ideal, coming close to what we could call the “eternal spring”.
One of the first civil buildings erected in Oaxaca was the Acueducto de la Cascada (Acueduct of the Waterfall) which in those times supplied water to the entire city. One place is succeeded after the other where the hardness of stone comes to life thanks to the aesthetic of traces and shapes: the Zócalo of the city, the Alameda de León, the School of Law, the Palacio de Gobierno. And how many invaluable museums and churches! Standing out is the Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia (Regional Museum of Anthropology and History), which keeps pieces of the mixteco and zapoteco region, cultures whose invaluable inspiration gave shape to such a prosperous region in a long gone past; the Museo de Arte Prehispánico Rufino Tamayo” (Rufino Tamayo Art Museum of Prehispanic Art), integrated by a vast collection of objects preceeding not only from Oaxaca but from the entire country, an attempt to embrace the remote past of another powerful and mystical land as much as possible; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) and many more. The most interesting three churches are the Cathedral, La Soledad and Santo Domingo: symbols of the new faith raised over the long lost cosmotheism of the natives.
Only 8 kilometres from Oaxaca is the archeological zone of Monte Albán, prehispanic city which served formerly as capital for the zapotecas and which once lodged 35,000 inhabitants.
Such city, which flourished between the years 500 B.C. and 800 A.C., is known for its beautiful architecture, the engraved stones and the gray ceramic urns representing richly adorned priests. Many of those ceramics, which describe the zapotecan cosmotheism and its particular ideology about life and death, were found in more than a hundred tombs along the proximities of the place. By 1987 Monte Albán would be declared to be a Humanity Cultural Patrimony by the UNESCO.
But Oaxaca is also famous for its parties! The Guelaguetza de los Lunes del Cerro is an offering to the city of Oaxaca formed by representative groups of the seven traditional regions of the state: the Valles Centrales, the Sierra Juárez, the Cañada, Tuxtepec, the Mixteca, the Costa and the Istmo de Tehuantepec. Each delegation shows a sample of his cultural heritage by means of dances performed along the music and singing, wearing the finest garments of each one of the towns.
Apparently these parties go back to the epoch of the colony, relating themselves intimately with the so called party of Corpus of the Carmen Alto temple, building built by the carmelitas in the outskirts of a hill which the zapotecas had labeled as Bella Vista (Beautiful View). Such party was celebrated on the following Monday after July the 16th and was to be repeated eight days later, the “eighth”, and soon after, the natives of the towns surrounding the city adhered themselves with enthusiasm to the party, in particular those from “Guaxaca”, which was the capital of the Valley granted to Hernán Cortés by the king of Spain and from Xochimilco, founded in 1521 by Cortés towards the north of the above mentioned city.
Guelaguetza is a zapoteca word which denotes the act of participating in cooperation, the precise spirit that distinguishes the city of Oaxaca as one of the most important tourist places of the country; a spirit of reciprocity where past and present are fused together with invaluable magic, palpable thru its streets, patios and gardens by means of the coloration of its handcrafts or the extense variety of typical dishes, one who possesses unique recipes and exquisite flavors.
And thanks to the harmony of its architecture, its culture and customs, this city excels before the world with the brilliance of an inexhaustible treasure: Oaxaca, day by day preserved as Humanity Cultural Patrimony by the UNESCO.