For a taste of the real Mexico, come to Oaxaca. This gorgeous state boasts beautiful colonial architecture, a primordial eco-system that draws botanists from all over the planet, fascinating ancient historical sites and is also acknowledged as the gastronomy hot-spot of Mexico. Furthermore, Oaxaca is the indigenous capital of Mexico with a vast array of languages and customs enhancing the intricate cultural landscape. Finally, take time out to explore Mexico`s capital city and the venerable site of Teotihuacan, whose ancestry is a subject of heated debate.
Monte Alban is one of Mexico`s most ancient sites having been first built at around 500BC, and is said to have been the first settlements to use writing as well as a written calendar. With the settlement being based on top of a flat hill, the 360 degree views of the surrounding valley are spectacular, and provide a fantastic insight into the setup of this ancient city.
As one of the oldest villages in the Sierra Mixteca mountain range, Santiago Apoala is home to great tradition. According to this tradition, the tree of life, which is claimed to have given birth to humanity, can be found here. Equally well known for its enchanting waterfalls, the opportunity to swim in the clear tranquil pools at the bottom of the waterfalls should not be missed. The village is set in a wonderful and enchanting landscape - a green, hidden valley with impressive waterfalls enclosed by steep cliffs. You don`t need much imagination to understand why the Mixtec people believe this place is paradise on Earth.
The ancient archaeological site of Mitla holds great religious significance to the region of Oaxaca, with ancient kings and priests buried within the city walls. The site, which is estimated to date back to 900 BC symbolises Mexico`s attitude towards the dead, who are greatly celebrated and never forgotten. Mitla`s fascinating history, where human sacrifice was a key part of worship, provides many facts and stories about indigenous human civilisation dating back almost 3000 years.
Hierve El Agua
The unique natural phenomena of Hierve El Agua is bound to leave a lasting impression on any visitor. As a source of many natural springs, the rock shapes have been heavily influenced by these springs, with the mineral rich water molding rocks into the shape of waterfalls, known as a `petrified waterfall`. The springs have also helped form natural pools in the rocks, creating stunning natural baths, ideal for an afternoon dip.
More of Mexico
When humans arrived in the Mexico valley in 30,000 BC, the valley floor was a chain of lakes. The water has been receding ever since, and its agriculture has became an important way of life. The Aztecs arrived from northwest Mexico and settled in the Chapultepec region. The tribe were forced to flee however, and in 1325 arrived on an island on the western shore and built the city Tenochtitlán. This was to rule over most of Mexico in the 15th and early 16th centuries before the Spanish conquest in 1519. Tenochtitlán was destroyed, but was then rebuilt on Spanish orders as the capital of Nueva España (New Spain), later becoming Mexico City.
This fabulous archaeological zone of Teotihuacan lies in a mountain-ringed offshoot of the Valle de México. For centuries Teotihuacán was the capital of largest pre-Hispanic empire in Mexico. However, unable to sustain its burgeoning population, it fell in the 8th century. The earliest Mexican murals are found at Teotihuacán and depict what awaited those who were killed by Tláloc, the water God. The Teotihuacán buildings were simple but grand in scale. Teotihuacán is known for its two pyramids - the sun and moon pyramids. The Sun Pyramid was completed by 150 AD and the rest of the city between 250 and 600 AD. The Sun Pyramid (Pirámide del Sol) is the world`s third largest pyramid, whose base is 222m on each side and is 70m in height. The Moon Pyramid (Pirámide de la Luna), completed in 300 AD, is smaller but built on slightly higher ground.