Photo: Ron Mader, Valley Guelaguetza (Some rights reserved)

Zaachila, Oaxaca is famous for its weekly Thursday market, its fresh meats, its key role in Mixtec and Zapotec history and its very own Guelaguetza.

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Natural World
Zaachila is located in a fertile valley, irrigated by the Atoyac River. The center of town is lush with walnut and mesquite trees.

Cultural World
The Santa María Natividad Temple is on north side of the zócalo.

Typically, Zaachila celebrates Guelaguetza the second Monday after July 16. Locals say the event is older than what is held in Oaxaca City. Performers are all from Zaachila and take turns each year to learn the dances from other regions in Oaxaca.

Thursday is Market Day. It’s best to arrive before 10am. The tejateras are out in force providing generous portions of the popular Zapotec power drink, served in the traditional red painted jicaras.

A few blocks west of the center of town there is considerable activity in the Baratillo animal market. Seeds are sold on the east side of the city hall (palacio municipal). In the zocalo and near the church vendors sell handicrafts from nearby villages.

The Alarii Market is on the east side of the zócalo. Built in 2001, there are about one hundred stands, most serving either bread and chocolate or a variety of fresh meat.

Looking for a snack? You’ll find tasty peanuts (cacahuates) and plenty of tejate served in bright red jicaras. Another treat is fresh sugarcane, with or without the hot sauce.

The city has no formal museum, but there are plans to create a community center. Temporary exhibits of archaeological finds are scheduled on occasion during holidays.

The El Cerrito (or ‘el mogote’) hill is not noticeable until you come up on upon it. Located across from the church, the archaeological site is topped by a large hill. Visitors can enter two tombs.


After the decline of Monte Albán, Zapotec was the most important Zapotec city of the 14th century. It was later ruled by the Mixtecs until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

The meaning of the word ‘Zaachila’ has not been clearly established, although in the Zapotec language it is believed to mean ‘the one who came from the east.’

In the Náhuatl language of the Aztecs, the word refers to Teozapotlan, ‘God of the Zapotec Region.’

Nearby are the towns of San Bartolo Coyotepec (8 kilometers) and San Antonio Arrazola and the unfinished 16th century ex-convento in Cuilapam de Guerrero (2 kilometers).

Location — 16°57’N 96°45’W
Zaachila is located 15 kilometers (12 miles) south of Oaxaca City.

Transportation — There are frequent bus service in Oaxaca City from Autotransportes Añasa, Bustamante #606 (between Arista and Nuno del Mercado) two blocks south of San Francisco Church in a converted gas station. Collective taxi service is available around the corner at Arista #107 and from the Abasto(s) Market.

Dining — Signature dishes include barbacoa and carne al horno. Restaurants include La Capilla, Mangalito and La Esquina. On the side of the market are the tasty comedores: Denisse, Itzel, Faby and Angelita.

Oaxaca Trees — Look for the walnut trees! See if you can spot the flower called La Pasionara.

Zaachila – Erick Igari
Miercoles Santo – Erick Igari

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