Walking Tour of Oaxaca City, Mexico
Oaxaca City, founded in 1529, is one of the best preserved of Mexico‘s Colonial cities and also the birthplace of one of Mexico’s most important historical figures, Benito Juarez, a reformer and President of the country. It has also been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
My walk begins at the Zocalo (Plaza de Armas) which is pedestrian-only and ringed with cafes. It is the center of activity. There are also wrought-iron benches to sit on and a bandstand where concerts are given fairly frequently. Oaxaca’s Cathedral sits on the northern side of the square, but faces west. You can visit it later in the walk.
Exit the plaza by walking east on Avenida Hidalgo, and then turn left onto Armienta y Lopez. At the corner ahead, on your right, is the Teatro Macedonio de Alcala. Perhaps you can look inside to see the marble staircase and vestibule.
Now turn left on Independencia and then right on Alcala. At the corner of Gurrion, you will find the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, whose interior is truly spectacular. Its construction began in 1572 and, because it took so long to build (over 200 years), it is a combination of many architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, and Mudejar. Visitors are always dazzled because it seems that everything inside the church is covered with gold.
Just beyond the church, also on Alcala, is the city’s most important museum, Museo Regional de Oaxaca. The incredible collections, which include artifacts from Monte Alban, are housed in what was once a Dominican convent.
From here, turn left onto Carranza. When you reach Garcia y Vigil, make a brief detour by turning right to see the Benito Juarez House, where the famous reformer lived in the early 1800’s. Now, return to Carranza and turn right, then turn left onto Tinocco y Palacios.
When you reach Independencia, turn right to visit the Basilica de la Soledad, named for the city’s patron saint. Her statue, inside, is encrusted with 600 diamonds and she wears a gold crown that weighs four pounds.
After your visit to the church, return on Independencia to Tinocco y Palacios and turn right. As you walk south, the street name changes to J P Garcia, and eventually leads to the Mercado de Artensania, a great place to pick up locally-made textiles. After some browsing, walk east on Zaragoza and then left onto 2 de Noviembre. Ahead, on your right, is San Juan de Dios, the oldest church in the city, dating to the early 16th century.
Now leave the church and turn right. In the next block, on the right, is the Mercado Juarez, another great place to pick up bargains, especially on Saturdays.
Next, continue northward on 20 de Noviembre as far as Avenida Hidalgo, and turn right, walking into the Alameda de Leon, a lovely square directly in front of the Cathedral. The church’s Baroque façade is adorned with an intricate relief of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, above the main door. Check out the bronze altar inside the church. From this square, which, incidentally, contains numerous stalls selling various goods, walk southeast, and then cross Avenida Hidalgo to reach the Zocalo, where the walk started.