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OAXACA, MEXICO

Oaxaca City Zócalo
by Ron Mader

ZOCALO WIKI

El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.
- Peace Notebook

Oaxaca Map

FLICKR ALBUM: Oaxaca City Zocalo


The town square (zócalo) is a focal point for locals and visitors.

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY

The streets of Oaxaca City run along the grid laid out in 1529 by Spanish architect Alonso García Bravo who used the same plan he had used in Veracruz City and Mexico City. The zócalo is the city's largest plaza. The two chief buildings that surround the zócalo are the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Assumption and the Museo del Palacio.

 

TREES

The square has a number of trees that are loved by locals and visitors. The oldest are the thick laurel trees on the southwest and northwest corners planted by Felix Diaz, the brother of Porfirio Díaz. Tip: You can find the oldest trees by their girth. The giant laurel tree on the northwest corner is known as the 'laurel de los conciertos' as this place is where weekly concerts are held. A huaje tree is located on the west side of the park.

BUSINESS

Tables line the arched passageways surrounding three sides of the zócalo and are popular meeting places.

Businesses surrounding the plaza have changed over the years. La Primavera restaurant used to sell religious items. The all-purpose grocery store (abarrotes) La Lonja anchors the western side.

The east side of the square has a number of restaurants. New arrivals include Taco Inn, Sushi-Itto and Italian Coffee. Older restaurants include Hosteria de Antequera, Amarantos and Terra Nova (with indoor children's playground, Terralandia). There are also several fabric stores.

KIOSKO

Under the bandstand (kiosko) are a number of market comedores, including "El Chino" (Locales 3 and 4) and "Refresqueria El Kiosko" (Locales 5-6). The kiosko market has about 20 active members. Hours: 9am-9pm daily. Flickr

POSTCARD FROM OAXACA, 2010

Teachers camping in early June

POSTCARD FROM OAXACA, 2008-2009

Not many changes. Kind of boring.

POSTCARD FROM OAXACA, JANUARY-MARCH 2007

Clean-up has begun. The buildings have been scrubbed clean of revolutionary slogan. Signs on the corners of the square were added in February 2007. Maps are first-rate. Directional signs are a bit iffy.

POSTCARD FROM OAXACA, MAY-DECEMBER 2006

Notes about Oaxaca from May-December 2006 are included in the essay Oaxaca Newsgoogled.

POSTCARD FROM OAXACA, APRIL-DECEMBER 2005

Renovation of zócalo took place in 2005, between April and December.

Locals were frustrated at the lack of prior consultation. The first presentation of the project took place a week before the bulldozers arrived, but only a few were informed of the meeting. When the renovation began in earnest -- bulldozers and cranes drove into the plaza -- most of the business owners were taken by surprise.

During the first week one of the giant Indian Laurel trees was unrooted and fell against the Government Palace. Witnesses say that the tree was about to be destroyed by a worker with a chain saw before local environmentalists guarded the tree.

Critics decried the renovation as 'ecocide' and asked UNESCO to look into the matter as the organization has designated Oaxaca City's historic center as a World Heritage Site.

Half of the work was completed at the end of July 2005 and the summer's big event -- the Guelaguetza Festival. Almost all of the work was completed before the Day of the Day and Radish Night.

CHANGING SPACES

Before the 2005 renovation, the last major revision of the zócalo occured a quarter century ago when the square was blocked off and motorized vehicles were prevented from entering. This made the square pedestrian-friendly and is hailed as a model for how other colonial cities can improve the downtown environment.

ENDEMICS AND THE ENDEARING

Some of the proponents of the 2005 redesign suggested that park showcase endemic plants and trees. Replacing Indian Laurels with Cypress trees (the same species at the Tule Tree) was criticized as impractical -- cypress trees require copious amounts of water.

Many locals are fond of the imported trees (which include laurels, jacarandas and flamboyants). That the trees were considered less important than 'native' trees struck many locals as arrogant.

NEW ZOCALO vs CLASSIC ZOCALO

How does the 'new' zócalo look? Gone is the exuberant foliage, particularly around the bandstand. Much cleaner are the half dozen food stands underneath the bandstand.

Much of the stonework is indistinguishable from cement.

VOX POPULAR (2005)

El zócalo no es la tela de ningún artista.
Que comienza mal, termina mal.
La renovación es como echar caca en el mole.
Este árbol tiene voz.
Oaxaca requiere un zócalo digno.
Es muy actual, antes era colonial
Esta bien antes.

www.flickr.com

RADISH NIGHT

La Noche de Rábanos (Radish Night) is celebrated on December 23rd on the zócalo and has been a focal point of Christmas celebrations for more than a century. Details

 

www.flickr.com

AUTHOR

Ron Mader is the responsible travel correspondent for Transitions Abroad and host of the award-winning Planeta.com website.


FEATURES

g Slideshow - Ron Mader
g Photos - Ron Mader

FLICKR

g Oaxaca City Zocalo
g Kiosko
b City Parks Group
ONLINE FLICKR

WIKI

g Oaxaca City
g Zocalo
ONLINE WIKI

www.flickr.com

KUDOS

For linking to this page, many thanks to the Associated Press, the Development Gateway, Environmental Journalism Today, Mexicanwave, Project for Public Spaces and the San Diego Union Tribune.


OAXACA


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THINK SMART, TRAVEL SLOW

Do you want to get to know a different side of Oaxaca? Challenge yourself with a treasure hunt!

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PLANETA


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Things to do - 2013 - Art - Baseball - Cantinas - Chocolate - Churches - Crafts - Cuisine - Gardens - Guelaguetza - Info - Markets - Mezcal - Monte Albán - Museums - Photos - Plazas - POI - Radish Night - Recommended - Tips - Transport - Weather - Where to stay - Where to eat - Rugby - Zócalo (OAXACA CITY)

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