Fortress Monasteries, Mixtec Market
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The great Dominican fortress monastaries of Yanhuitlan, Teposcolula, Achiutla and Coixtlahuaca and the thriving market of Tlaxiaco.
To travel into the little visited, high Mixteca region and visit the grandiose and decaying Domincan fortress monasteries is to feel the deep silence that has settled over a turbulent history. These enormous churches and monasteries where built in thecenter of what were powerful Mixtec city states and religious centers during an era of tremendous change in the mid-1500's. The Spanish had arrived and were imposing their rule thoughout Mesoamerica. The churches were built with forced labor to hold grand masses and convert the many pagans to Catholicism. The Monasteries were built to train legions of new predicators.
It was a time of tremendous upheaval and insecurity and it was only logical to build defensible structures, fortress monastaries. Yet within a century of toppling the Mixtec kingdoms and working the land to the bone under the new lords, disease had decimated 95% of the population, and what were once thriving cities became near ghost towns.
The centuries have not been kind to this once great land and many of the old Mixtec towns have never recovered the elegance they once had. We'll visit the villages of Yanhuitlan, Teposcolula, Achiutla and Coixtlahuaca where the beautiful churches, now being restored after centuries of neglect, stand as grand monuments to a very unique era in history. Yet not all Mixtec towns have gone silent, and we'll also visit and stay in Tlaxiaco, also once the seat of a kingdom and now the economic heart of the high Mixteca. We'll be here for market day, the most important in the whole region, and we'll get a sense of the hubbub and vitality that once defined all of the ancient Mixtec cities.
||6-12 pax $565
3-5 pax $760
||Oaxaca, Mexico. The Upper Mixteca.
||3 days/2 nights
||Aug 10-12, 2012
Sept 12-14, 2012
Dec 7-9, 2012
Feb 22-24, 2013
March 15-17, 2013
||* Professional, bilingual guide
* All local transport in private van
* Entry fees, tips for meals,
* Local guides and transportation
* High quality, small group travel
||Two nights lodging double occupancy plaza side hotel (single $60)
|MEALS & DRINKS
||2 breakfasts, lunch daily, 2 dinners
||* Airfare and transport to/from airport
* Alcoholic beverages
* Personal items
* Some meals may not be included to offer flexibility in meal choices
* Tip to your tour guides should you feel it is merited. 5-10% of tour price is standard per person guideline for tip to the guide or guide team
Tour Itinerary by Day:
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner included in tour price.
Day 1, (LD) Our adventure begins at 9am in front of the grandest of fortress Monastaries in Oaxaca, Santo Domingo Church (It's also an easy landmark for all to find and thus a good meeting point). And then off into the land of the Mixtec people. We will visit Yanhuitlan, the grand jewel of the eroded Nochixtlan valley. A kingdom once so powerful that it refused to bend to Aztec tribute demands. The Aztecs responded by sacking the kingdom, sacrificing the rulers and running the city themselves. Later the Spaniards took over and silk became the most profitable export in the 1600's. The Yanhuitlan church was built on bent Mixtec backs and silk wealth. We'll visit the church, a creative local potter and a woman who is working to bring back Mixtec pride and identity in Yanhuitlan. Then onward to Huamelulpan where we'll explore the small, but interesting remains of this pre-Hispanic ceremonial center. In the afternoon we'll arrive in lively Tlaxiaco and move into our hotel on the town square. Evening in Tlaxiaco.
Day 2, (BLD) Tlaxiaco once had the nickname of "The Little Paris". This might have been an exaggeration, but this town has been a center of commerce for centuries with a long history of wealthy merchants. Today we will find ourselves in the center of commerce, for it is market day and the entire center of town will have become a market overnight. This weekly market draws people in from a broad, highland region and one of the interesting things to do is simply people watch. Out the front door of our hotel the market abounds and we have the morning to explore it at our leisure. Then we'll head into the back country to visit what was the most important spiritual center of the Mixteca, Achiutla, once home to the sacred emerald known as El Corazon del Pueblo and the place of the oracle who foretold the downfall of Montezuma upon the arrival of the Spaniards. Amidst crumbling walls of Mixtec masonry, a silent graveyard, broken church and grand monastery we will taste some of what once was in Achiutla. Evening in Tlaxiaco.
Day 3, (BL) We head to Teposcolula, now beautifully restored and home to the largest outdoor church atrium in Mexico. The atrium, the size of football field, is testimony to the huge population that was once preached to here. In addition to the spectacular church and monastery, there is a singularly unique building here called the Casa de la Casica, a small palace built in the 1560's for a Mixtec queen that shows both indigenous and European architectural influences as is part of the evidence that women ruled alongside men in some Mixtec kingdoms. It is the only intact building of its kind in Mexico. Then on to Coixtlahuaca, the "Plain of Snakes", which was once a multi-ethnic city of Mixtecs, Chochos and Nahuatls and a breadbasket of the region. Once a greatmarket center is has been estimated that the Coixtlahuaca region was once home to some 60,000 people. In 2005 the district had a population of 9,018. Like much of the rest of the High Mixteca, times have changed here! We'll explore the beautiful, Plateresque church and convent before returning to Oaxaca city. Lodging this evening is not included in trip price. If you need assistance making lodging arrangements please contact us.
All itineraries subject to change without notice.