The three valleys are the valleys that merge to
Here are itineraries that we tested :
Road MONTE ALBÁN - ZAACHILA (west
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.
: Pottery market in Oaxaca region (Santa Maria Atzompa)
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).
Left picture : Mixtec dances in front of the Church of Cuilapán
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
to visit the typical markets of Zimatlán (on Wednesday) and
Ayoquezco (on Tuesday) on road 131 to Puerto
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.
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
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).
: Loom in the community museum
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
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 mezcal sold on the market is of excellent quality. Nothing
beats tequila, but it’s a
question of taste.
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
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.
picture : Black potteries of San Bartolo
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
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.
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.
: 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
In conclusion, don’t miss these trips ! Oaxaca is part of
the three states in Mexico where the craft
is a master-work.
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
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
of the church of Teotitlán by the zapotec community