Oaxaca: A Place with Rich History




In Oaxaca, there are a lot of buildings or museums showing the different cultures and histories the state has or had, especially with indigenous culture.  Since a lot of indigenous people lived here for over thousands of years, it doesn’t surprise me seeing many still practicing their rituals.

I’m glad there are museums today that recognizes the many tribes the state had because those were the foundations of the cultures that exist now for many people living here.  Also, by studying them, I believe we can understand indigenous people more and not subject to racism or hatred.

In the city of Oaxaca (Oaxaca de Juárez), I had the chance to visit a museum called Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, Santo Domingo (Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, Santo Domingo) and Museo Casa de Juárez (Juarez House Museum).  Even though there are plenty of sites to visit in the city, it isn’t enough for me.  I had the chance to visit Monte Albán, which was located outside the city on top of a mountain.

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, Santo Domingo (Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, Santo Domingo)

This museum is located next to the church of Santo Domingo.  The museum consist of having many different exhibition halls of Oaxaca’s cultures and having them offer a historical, ethnographic and religious view.  However, at first, the museum was a military headquarter from 1812 to 1994.

When the place was built, Mexico was already at war against Spain and trying to get their independence, so that’s why they created a military headquarter in Oaxaca.  Later on, the War of the Reformation, or the Three Years War, took place from 1858 to 1861.  It wasn’t until 1994 that the Mexican government decided to abandon the place and have it become the museum that exists today.

The property underwent four years of reconstruction at first, and with the help of federal, state and private initiative investments, the museum opened to the public on July 24, 1998.  Now, it contains many halls showing perhaps the first cultures that settled in Oaxaca in over 10,000 years.  I didn’t knew there were countless of indigenous tribes that lived in this area before the Spaniards came, and I also got the chance to learn how the Spaniards changed significantly the food, music, dances, weapons and religion the people had.

It does make me wonder why the state receives little fund from the government, since the place helped the nation beat Spain and provided many soldiers over a long time.  Since indigenous people are still discriminated, is it the fact that there are many indigenous people living here?  If so, why have museums recognizing them and encouraging them to continue their ways if they are seen inferior.  I just hope their history isn’t forgotten.


La Máscara de Calakm,jl (The Mask of Calakm,jl).


A Weapon Made Out of Bone.

Museo Casa de Juárez (Juarez House Museum)

Benito Juárez is one of the most important people Mexico has had because not only did he changed the country politically, but he was able to break a social barrier nobody thought was possible at the time.  Benito Juárez was born on March 21, 1806, and he was born in a town called San Pablo Guelatao, which is located in Oaxaca.

He was an indigenous person, having Zapotec ethnicity, which automatically made him poor and faced discrimination, even though there are a lot of Zapotecs located in Oaxaca.  When Benito Juárez turned 12 years old, he arrived at the city of Oaxaca.

Then, one day, he visited the house of Antonio Salanueva, who was a bookbinder, and was able to impress Salanueva and made him an apprentice.  There, Benito Juárez learned how to read and write while being Salanueva’s apprentice.  He lived there until 1828, and thanks to the support of Salanueva, Benito Juárez was able to become a politician and the first ever indigenous president of Mexico.

It wasn’t until December 28, 1974, where the house was established as the museum it exist today.  It’s amazing to me that Benito Juárez was able to prove many people wrong of the idea that indigenous people are not as smart or smarter than non-indigenous people.  It’s crazy to think that people still believe they are inferior, even though one of the most greatest president Mexico has had was indigenous.  I guess we are still a long way on beating racism and discrimination.


Juarez’s House.


Statue of Benito Juarez.


Workroom of Benito Juarez.

Monte Albán

Monte Albán is an archaeological site located outside the city of Oaxaca on top of a high mountain.  It was the home of Zapotecs mainly and Mixtecs, and it is estimated the city lasted from 500 BC to 800 AD.  The ancient city had many amazing plazas, pyramids which included religious purposes, underground passages, tombs and a court which people played a sport called tlachtli.

According to our tour guide, the game was played by having people sit around the court, they would pass the ball to each other with their hips, and the game ended when there was one left who didn’t quit or when the ball fell to the floor and stopped rolling.  The game was played by young men or boys because since they were passing a big, hard ball made out of rocks or stones with their hips, elbows and knees, their bones were stronger to sustain the pain.

One important thing to remember was that the Zapotecs and Mixtecs didn’t live together there at the same time.  The Zapotecs established on the mountain first, but later abandon it.  Later on, the Mixtecs encountered the place and decided to live there and kept the work of the Zapotecs.  There are many theories on why the city was abandon, but one thing for sure is that the most of the architecture lasted and helped the Spaniards realize it was an abandoned city.

It is incredible that even to this date, we can still visit and see the ruins of a mysterious ancient city.  It just shows that there is still a lot of unknown information about ancient civilizations, which in my opinion, makes it difficult to accept the fact that we know what happened since the beginning of mankind.  Since we are finding new information every day about our origins, maybe in the future we would rewrite our history and have a new point of view of the world, thus making us wiser.