5 Culturally Enriching Experiences in Oaxaca

Posted: August 25, 2015

Author: Jessica S.

Posted In: Adventure, Culture, Oaxaca

Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most culturally diverse states and an incredible combination of Mexico’s multi-layered past. The different ethnic groups in the valleys and mountains have all brought their own languages, traditions and customs that are still very much present today. What has resulted from this colorful diversity is an incredible, wide-ranging appeal to all types of travelers. Here are  5 culturally enriching experiences in Oaxaca that Journey Mexico offers:

1. Meet Surviving Zapotec Cultures at Teotitlán del Valle

In the in the foothills of the Sierra Juarez is the weaving community of Teotitlán del Valle. This deeply Zapotec community is famous for its rugs woven on hand-operated looms.  Visiting the town, whose church lies on visible remains of a Zapotec temple, travelers can meet a family of weavers and be shown how they make a huge variety of colors using natural dyes such as cochineal, violet and pomegranate. It is most interesting to learn how traditional Zapotec designs and glyphs live on in their contemporary work.



2. Explore the Colonial Jewels of the Mixteca

In the mountains of the Mixteca Alta travelers can find the villages of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán and San Juan Teposcolula which were built as far back as the 1540’s before Oaxaca City even existed.  The villages shed light on the enmeshing of Spanish and Mesoamerican beliefs, conveyed in two Dominican convents constructed shortly after the arrival of the Spanish to Mexico. The towering church at Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán predates any in the valley of Oaxaca.

3. Interact with Local Artisan Families

Oaxaca has strong artistic traditions with a variety of handicrafts produced around the state. By visiting the homes of local artisan families in nearby, small pueblos including San Bartolo Coyotepec, Santo Tomás Jalieza, and San Martin Tilcajete, travelers can view a close-up demonstration of how they produce their special crafts and how they continue their  techniques that have been passed down for generations.

Oaxaca Culture San Bartolo
4. Uncover the Secrets of a pre-Hispanic Culture at Monte Alban and Mitla

There is no better way to understand pre-Hispanic cultures of Zapotec and Mixtec than by visiting their ancient cities and ceremonial center that have endured the test of time. Monte Alban, one of the oldest cities of Mesoamerica and a hugely important city for the Zapotecs and later the Mixtecs, is still considered a sacred site by shamans today. In Mitla travelers encounter an important ceremonial center where they have the chance to enter tombs.



5. Celebrate Nature at the Tule Tree

The Tule Tree is a Moctezuma Cypress tree that has a circumference of 160 meters and is believed to be one of the largest trees in the world by sheer biomass. It is thought to be at least 2000 years old, making it also one of the world’s oldest trees.  Travelers will learn how the tree is honored and celebrated by the local community and the great efforts in place to keep it alive.




Browse our collection of itineraries below or contact a Journey Mexico travel planner for more information on any of the above tours.

Best Of Oaxaca Culture, Mezcal, & Beach – Spend your days strolling the vibrant colonial city center, meet families of local communities to learn about their indigenous traditions, take a break to unwind with some mezcal and taste your way thorough Oaxaca’s unique gastronomy.
Oaxaca Family Adventure – Take the family on a journey through Oaxaca, spending a few days immersing into the colorful culture before heading to the beach.
Oaxaca Native Crafts – Immerse yourself in the rich traditions and cultures and be invited into homes of various artisans to witness how they continue the traditions of making native crafts.

                                         See more Oaxaca itineraries >> 


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