Oaxaca is a fascinating mix of colonial, indigenous and ancient cultures, with fine Spanish buildings and churches, markets and numerous fiestas, and the important archaeological site of Monte Alban. After the Spanish conquered Oaxaca in 1533, the city quickly took on a Spanish flavour with ornate buildings, elegant archways, decorative wrought iron balconies and charming plazas. Today's Oaxaca may be a combination of pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern influences but, despite its heritage, the city remains essentially Indian at heart, wherein lies its particular charm. The townsfolk speak their own language and their market is one of the most colourful in Mexico.
The town is located in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur, which was once the centre of Zapotec and Mixtec civilisations. The early Zapotecs developed a great civilisation at nearby Monte Alban centuries before the birth of Christ. Overlooking the town, a trip to Monte Alban is a fascinating journey into the past. Also don’t miss the close by Mixtec archaeological site of Mitla.
Puebla is best known for the beautiful Talavera tiles and ceramics that adorn its walls, domes and interiors. Mexico's national dish, the mole poblano made with bitter chocolate and chillies also originated from here. The streets of Puebla, a World Heritage Site, are lined with churches, mansions and handsome buildings and the many antique stores make it a delight to stroll around. A few kilometres out of the city lies the fascinating remains of a Tepanapa pyramid in Cholula, larger in volume than the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. Although covered by a catholic church in the colonial era, parts of the site have been exposed and you can see the magnificence of the structure from the archaeologists tunnels.
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