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Oaxaca : valleys
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
 
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Three Valleys

The three valleys are the valleys that merge to Oaxaca.

Here are itineraries that we tested :

Road MONTE ALBÁN - ZAACHILA (west and south-west)

Pottery market in Oaxaca region (Santa Maria Atzompa) The village of Santa Maria Atzompa is located 8 km from Oaxaca : Visit the House of Craft, an ideal place to watch pottery being made (consists of natural clay and green glazed clay). Stroll in the market on Tuesday.

  Right picture : Pottery market in Oaxaca region (Santa Maria      Atzompa)




Monte Albán - see the referred chapter


San Antonio Arrazola is located at 12 km (7.5 mile) from Oaxaca : The local artisans sculpt the copal wood to make sculptures called alebrijes (life trees). These sculptures are sold in the "Houses of craftsmen" or in Oaxaca.

Cuilapán de Guerrero : Coyolapan means “dyed river” in Náhuatl". There is a magnificent but unfinished Dominican ensemble built in the sixteenth century here. You can visit the ex-convent, the Church made like a basilica and a chapel open to the Indigenous population. (Entrance fees $29).

Mixtec dances in front of the Church of Cuilapán




Left picture : Mixtec dances in front of the Church of Cuilapán

 

 

 

 




Indians arriving at the market of Zaachila Zaachila is located 17 km (10 miles) from Oaxaca : Go to the Thursday market (traditional market and livestock market). You will find diverse tableware from the area, there.

The archaeological zone was partially excavated. It was probably occupied from 1100 to 1521. There is a pyramid and tombs with representations of personages such as the "Lords of Hell". Open 8 AM-5 PM dally, $35.

Take the local bus from Oaxaca (Terminal 2nd class); get off at every signed stop and take the following bus after your visit.


   Right picture : Indians arriving at the market of Zaachila

 





Don’t forget to visit the typical markets of Zimatlán (on Wednesday) and Ayoquezco (on Tuesday) on road 131 to Puerto Escondido.

Dance of the Feather in Zimatlán  

Road to MITLÁ (eastern side)


Santa Maria del Tule - see the referred chapter

San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya is located 23 km (14 miles) from Oaxaca : it means “humid place” in Náhuatl. There is a nice religious ensemble built by the Dominicans at the sixteenth century on the top of the base of a Pre-Hispanic temple. It has frescoes representing Indigenous people painted with cochineal. It displays some altar pieces from painter Juan de Arrué and a recently restored pipe organ dating from 1620. It is a pleasant Zapotec village with adobe houses. The "Fiesta de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo" is held every year during the last week of September. It is eight days of processions, dances and fireworks.



Dainzú is a small archaeological site with terraces, from the same period as Monte Albán. You will notice the interesting galleria of stone bas-relief showing ball players in action. Look also at the four figures probably representing fire “gods”. This site is located 20 km (12 miles) from Oaxaca. Open 8 AM-5 PM daily, $35.





Teotitlán del Valle : This village is very famous for its wool rugs still weaved on looms with the ancestral technique. They still use the natural dye (red cochineal, blue indigo tree, yellow rock moss).

Loom in the community museum It is important to visit the houses of craftsmen to watch the production of these rugs. The community museum (open 10 AM-6 PM, $6) displays diverse Pre-Hispanic objects, a source of inspiration for these artisans. Also in this village is the Church of "Christ’s Precious Blood", built at the seventeenth century. Interesting stones with Pre-Hispanic sculptures were recently placed in the intern patio of the church. Behind this church, you can observe recently discovered Zapotec glyphs. The nice "Fiesta del Señor de La Natividad" is held every year during the first weekend in September. This village is located 32 km (20 miles) from Oaxaca. 90% of the 6,000 inhabitants of this village devote themselves to local craft.

It is easily accessible from Oaxaca : Take a bus from the Terminal 2nd class (runs every hour from 9 AM to 9 Pm except on Sundays : $7).


     Right picture : Loom in the community museum




 
Preparation of Easter procession in Teotitlán

Lambityeco : was the headquarters of an important Zapotec commercial place (600-750). You can admire the vestiges of old edifications, palaces and temples of worship. There are panels decorated with figures of dignitaries and priests. Notice, in the structure number 190, the two identical masked figures of Cocijo, God of rain, thunder and lightning. Each of them holds a water container in the right hand and a lightning rod in the left hand, attributes of the divinity. This site is located 26 km (16 miles) from Oaxaca. (Open 8 AM-5 PM daily, $35).



Santa Ana del Valle : is an important textile production center. The inhabitants are weavers who make wool textiles, "sarapes" and "jorongos" (kind of "ponchos"), weaved wool rugs, cotton clothes adorned with traditional or modern designs using natural dyes. The market is an important attraction in this village. You can also visit the baroque church dating from the eighteenth century, with beautiful baroque golden altar pieces and oil paintings. Go to the Friday market.

market of Tlacolula
Tlacolula de Matamoros : is famous for its colorful indigenous Sunday market. It is located 30 km (19 miles) from Oaxaca. There is a nice religious ensemble built by the Dominicans at the seventeenth century. The baroque Chapel, dedicated to the Christ Saint of Tlacolula, is one of the biggest jewels of Mexican baroque art. Notice also the remarkable wrought iron gate at the choir and the pulpit.

The mezcal sold on the market is of excellent quality. Nothing beats tequila, but it’s a question of taste.

You take the same bus to go to Mitlá.





     Above photo : market of Tlacolula


Yagul : see the referred chapter

Mitlá : see the referred chapter

Hierve el Agua :"boiling water". The points of interest here are the panoramic view of the valley, the visit of the petrified cascades and vestiges of the Pre-Hispanic irrigation system used from 700 to 1350. At the lower level, there are sources rich in sodium and vestiges of the system. At the upper level, there are natural pools equipped for swimming. There is a small restaurant and cabins (make reservations ahead at the tourism Office of Oaxaca). The site is accessible by minibus from Mitlá. It is located 80 km (48 miles) from Oaxaca. These refreshing locations are busy with locals on weekends.

Road to OCOTLÁN

Black potteries of San Bartolo San Bartolo Coyotepec is located 15 km (9 miles) from Oaxaca : Its main attraction is the fabrication of black pottery by the local artisans. They use a technique of soak and polishing; the objects are very beautiful.... Coyotepec comes from the words coyotl (coyote), tepetl (hill) and C (on). Together, it means "on the coyote hill". This black pottery can be bought at the market in the village (market on Fridays) or at the cooperative in front of the church. It is cheaper than in Oaxaca. Take the bus from the Terminal 2nd class of Oaxaca (runs every 20 min from 6 AM). The "Fiesta de San Bartolomé" is held here every year during the last week in August.

     Right picture : Black potteries of San Bartolo

 

 

 

 

 




life trees

The proper name of this village is Tlilcaxitl, which means "black bowl". The village is located 20 km (12 miles) from Oaxaca. It is famous for the fabrication of life trees (alebrijes) such as the village of San Antonio Arrazola.



Left picture : life trees

Santo Tomás Jalieza (29 km or 18 miles from Oaxaca) : The word jalieza means "Under the church" in Zapotec (jana means "under" and lieza means "church"). The inhabitants devote themselves to cotton and wool weaving, with Pre-Hispanic to contemporary designs. They make many tablecloths, napkins, belts, bracelets, jackets and clothes in general... Go to the Friday market.



oaxaca market Ocotlán de Morelos : One of the main attractions in this village is the huge Friday market, one of the most important in the Central Valleys. You will notice the red clay ceramic, the cutlery, the "apaxtles" (big containers made of ceramic) and the basic kitchen utensils. Taste el chocolate atole (a drink made from ground corn and cacao beans cacao), el café de olla (coffee traditionally prepared in earthenware pots with cinnamon) and a bread cooked with egg yolk - el pan amarillo.
On the second Sunday in May, there is a religious celebration to honor Cristo Señor de la Sacristia. The famous painter, Rodolfo Morales, was born in this village. Thanks to him, the Dominican ex-convent and church were restored using traditional techniques with natural dye from nopal and lemon.


     Right picture : oaxaca market


Look at the Fundación Rodolfo Morales set in the painter’s house. You will be able to see his universe (close to the Zócalo). This village is located 35 km (22 miles) from Oaxaca.


On this same road 175 to Puerto Angel, the markets of Ejutla de Crespo (on Thursday) and Miahuatlán (on Monday) can be found and are worth a stop. It is a lot further from Oaxaca (60 km or 44 miles for the first one and 90 km or 66 miles for the second one) but it could be a nice break on the way to the Pacific Coast.


In conclusion, don’t miss these trips ! Oaxaca is part of the three states in Mexico where the craft is a master-work.

Other valleys


Road of the Sierra Juárez

This road goes north-west. It is typical because of the pine and oak forests. It crosses the village San Pablo Guelatao, birth place of Benito Juárez, located 25 km (16 miles) from Oaxaca on the road to Tuxtepec. 3 Km (2 miles) further, there is the village of Ixtlán de Juárez, busy on Monday with the market. You can also admire a churrigueresque pink stone church dating from the seventeenth century dedicated to Saint Tomás.

Since December 2007, the village of Capulálpam, located 9 km (6 miles) from Ixtlán de Juárez, has been named magic village. The church of San Mateo, the traditional indigenous medicine center and the privileged location in the heart of the Sierra Madré contributed to this nomination. The traditional medicine center offers herbs and medicines made with plants from the region as well as ritual massages of purification and baths in temascal according to the local traditions. Here, you can find colorful embroidered cloths, blouses, huipils, tablecloths and napkins. The goldsmith and silversmith workshops are famous in the region. The celebration of Patron Saint Mathieu is held every year on September 21st at the same time as a regional fair. Since December 2007, the village of Capulálpam, located 9 km (6 miles) from Ixtlán de Juárez, has been named magic village. The church of San Mateo, the traditional indigenous medicine center and the privileged location in the heart of the Sierra Madré contributed to this nomination. The traditional medicine center offers herbs and medicines made with plants from the region as well as ritual massages of purification and baths in temascal according to the local traditions. Here, you can find colorful embroidered cloths, blouses, huipils, tablecloths and napkins. The goldsmith and silversmith workshops are famous in the region. The celebration of Patron Saint Mathieu is held every year on September 21st at the same time as a regional fair.


Road from PUEBLA

oaxaca market

There are numerous churches, ex-convents and small archaeological sites along this road (off the freeway). The only main interest is the market of Villa de Etla held on Wednesdays (19 km or 11 miles from Oaxaca on the road 131 North). While you are in the village, have a look at the religious ensemble (cloister, church and atrium) dating from the seventeenth century.

 

 

Left picture : oaxaca market







Restauration of the church of Teotitlán by the zapotec community

Very nice video
 

 


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