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Mexico 2018 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: OAXACA

Oaxaca—both the city and state—have much to offer Mexican visitors, from the man-made cultural relics of the pre-Columbian era to its natural beauty.

Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico with a capital city of the same name, is known for its mix of cultures and nature. With a Pacific coastline to the south and valleys further north, Oaxaca is one of the most biologically diverse states. Visitors can enjoy both cultural traditions in Oaxaca city and ecological adventures across the state.

City Life

Though a reprieve from the chaos of Mexico City, Oaxaca's capital city still boasts a plethora of cultural gems. For those who love architecture, Oaxaca Cathedral, Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude, and the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman offer stunning architectural variety. All Roman Catholic in affiliation, the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman and the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude are bastions of baroque; while the Oaxaca Cathedral maintains neoclassical in style.

For broader cultural insights, the Museum of Cultures showcases the multicultural history of Oaxaca—albeit in a former monastery—through pre-Hispanic and contemporary cultures. Some of the treasures in the Museum of Cultures feature artifacts from Monte Albán archaeological site, one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica in the valley of Oaxaca. The Zapotec capital is just a short drive from Oaxaca (the city).

Natural Wonders

On the Pacific coast, Huatulco is a fishing village turned resort town nearby the Huatulco National Park. The park is home to roughly half of the biodiversity in the state, with 9,000 species of plants, 264 species of mammals, over 700 species of birds, and nearly 600 species of reptiles and amphibians within 11,890ha. Visitors can enjoy the paths on foot, horse, bicycle, or all-terrain vehicle. The highlight is La Entrega viewpoint for a full perspective of the land and sea.

Southeast of the capital city and tucked in a valley, the ancient geological rock formations at Hierve el Agua could be confused for waterfalls. While not actually water, the rock cascades were formed by fresh water springs. The minerals in the water helped shape the stone cliffs. Excavation of the site has revealed Zapotec irrigation systems and terraces. Two petrified waterfalls, cascada grande and cascada chica, are complemented by natural and artificial pools as well as panoramic views of the valley.