Oaxaca, Oaxaca

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Oaxaca is the name of both a state in Mexico and that state's capital city. This article is about the city. For the state, see: state of Oaxaca.
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Calle Tinoco y Palacios, with the church of San Felipe Neri
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Basílica de la Soledad
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Calle Morelos

The city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca (formally: Oaxaca de Juárez, in honour of 19th-century president and national hero Benito Juárez, who was born nearby) is the capital and main city of the Mexican state of the same name. It is located in the Oaxaca Valley in the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, at Template:Coor dm and an altitude of about 1550 m (5000 feet). The important Monte Albán archaeological site is close to the city. In 2003 the estimated population was 259,600 people.

Contents

History

There have been Zapotec and Mixtec settlements in the general area of the modern city of Oaxaca for thousands of years, in connection with the important ancient centres of Monte Albán and Mitla. The colonial city, however, dates from 1532, when Spanish settlers who had followed Hernán Cortés' conquistadores successfully petitioned the Queen of Spain for a grant of land. They had already founded a city in the neighbourhood, under the name of Antequera, on the basis of a charter from King Carlos V of Spain, but Cortés had successfully sought to have the entire Valle de Oaxaca declared as part of his personal marquisate, and to have the settlers removed. The queen's charter however secured the townspeople's rights, and the modern city grew up within and around the one-league square that they were granted.

The historic centre of the city is laid out in typical Spanish colonial style, with a rectangular grid of streets surrounding a central square, the zócalo. Most of the important buildings are within this central area.

Tourism

Oaxaca is far more than a tourist destination, and tourism does not dominate the city's life. Nonetheless, it does have a significant tourist trade, based on its numerous baroque churches and religious buildings (many of which have recently been restored), its proximity to Monte Albán, the ready availability of attractive local craft products in its markets and in nearby villages, and on a reputation for a relaxed style of life and friendly and courteous local population. It has a very wide range of cafés and restaurants, many of them specialising in the distinctive regional cuisine and some of them claimed to be among the best in Mexico.

Important buildings

Earthquakes damaged or destroyed many of the earliest buildings in the city, so most of those that currently exist date from no earlier than the beginning of the 18th century.

  • Churches and religious buildings
    • Cathedral, replacing an earlier building and completed in 1733, which contains the Santa Cruz de Huatalco dating from 1612
    • Church and former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán
    • Church of San Augustín, completed in 1722.
    • Church and former monastery of St John of God (Templo y Exconvento de San Juan de Dios), Oaxaca's oldest church still standing, completed in 1703.
    • Church of San Felipe Neri
    • Former convent (Ex convento) of San Catalina (now the Hotel Camino Real, but open for viewing)
    • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, which contains a statue of the Virgin of Solitude, crowned with a 2 kg solid gold crown studded with diamonds – though this was the subject of a theft recently.
  • Government buildings
    • Governor's palace (Palacio de Gobierno), dating from 1884 though on the site of several earlier buildings serving the same purpose.
  • Museums and the arts
    • Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo, occupying the former monastery buildings attached to Santo Domingo church, and beautifully restored in the 1990s to serve as a museum of Oaxacan life from pre-Columban days to the present. Some important artefacts from Monte Albán are displayed here.
    • Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca, MACO), housed in the so-called Casa de Cortés. This is a beautiful colonial building, though as it dates from after the death of Hernán Cortés, it can never actually have served as his house.
    • Rufino Tamayo museum (Museo Arte Prehispánico de Rufino Tamayo), with an important collection of pre-Columban art, arranged in an unusual aesthetic and thematic manner
    • Museo de la Soledad, next to the Church of the Soledad.
    • Instituto de Artes Gráficos de Oaxaca
    • Casa de Juárez, a museum devoted to the life of Benito Juárez
    • Photography Museum, the Centro de Fotografía Álvarez Bravo
    • Stamp Museum, the Museo Philatélica de Oaxaca
    • Railway Museum of Southern Mexico, in the former mainline railway station
    • Teatro Macedonio Alcalá, which as well as being a working theatre houses a collection of romantic art.
    • Planetarium, on the Cerro del Fortín
  • Commercial buildings
    • Juárez market
    • 20 de Noviembre market
    • Crafts market (Mercado de Artesanías)
    • Mercado de Abastos
    • Los Arquitos (former aqueduct)
  • Parks and gardens
    • The Zócalo
    • Alameda de Léon, diagonally adjacent to the zócalo and in front of the cathedral
    • Ethnobotanical garden, surrounding the former monastery of Santo Domingo
    • Parque Benito Juárez (known as
    • Cerro de Fortín, overlooking the highway that enters the city from Mexico City, and bearing in stone letters Benito Juárez's slogan, "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz" (Respect for others' rights is peace)
    • Parque Comunal de San Felipe, bordering the city and accessed via the suburb of San Felipe del Agua, and including the 3250-metre Cerro La Peña

Famous Oaxacans

Important people associated with Oaxaca include

Education

Oaxaca is the site of the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, which has buildings throughout the city centre. The Universidad de Mesoamérica also has a base in the city.

Transport

Oaxaca-Xoxocotlan airport (IATA code OAX) is approximately 10 km south of the city centre. Most flights are to Mexico City for onward connection, but there are also flights to Huatulco, Cancún, and Tijuana

The city has separate first class and second class bus stations, offering services to most places within the state of Oaxaca, including the coastal resorts of Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Puerto Ángel and Pinotepa Nacional, and also long-distance services to Puebla and Mexico City and other Mexican locations such as Veracruz.

The major highways serving Oaxaca are Federal Highways 175 and 131, southwards to the Oaxacan coastal resorts; National Highways 190 and 125, southwest to Pinotepa Nacional, Guerrero; National Highways 190 and 130, to Mexico City; the autopista 150D/131D, offering a more rapid route to Mexico City; and National Highway 175 north to Veracruz, Veracruz.

da:Oaxaca (by) de:Oaxaca de Juárez fr:Oaxaca hu:Oaxaca it:Oaxaca nl:Oaxaca de Juárez

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