The town of Zaachila, named after Zaachila Yoo, the 14th/15th century Zapotec leader, was one of the last strongholds of the Zapotec people. While the area is largely unexplored, there is a small archaeological site located on the hill next to the Virgen de Juquila church and in 1962 two burial tombs were discovered there. The tombs are quite small and yet when discovered they contained a large amount of treasure alongside the human remains. Tomb 1 features some particularly impressive stone carvings on the walls, including owls. You can see images of the treasure and find out more about the tombs and the history of the area in the adjacent visitor centre. The real treasures are now on display in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
If you are going to visit the archaelogical site consider going on a Thursday as this is the day Zaachila’s weekly market or tianguis is held. This market has been held on the same spot since pre-hispanic times and you can find pretty much anything you need there including traditional and modern clothing, fresh fruit and vegetables, chickens and turkeys, pottery, homewares and spices. If you’re hungry there are plenty of comedores and street stalls where you can buy something to eat.
The market is big and you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around and taking it all in. Aside from the large amount of food we ate (sharing the table with two beautiful old women and their turkeys), we took home some traditional embroidered shirts, pottery, flowers, honey and beans. If you’re interested, there is also a separate livestock market a few blocks away.
Zaachila is located around 16km south of Oaxaca City and is an easy trip by bus or colectivo (shared taxi). You can find both at the Abastos market or on Calle Bustamante, a few blocks south of the zocalo. Just look for the taxis with Zaachila written on the windscreen.
A colectivo will cost 12 pesos per person and takes around 20 minutes. You’ll be dropped off right outside the market.
The archaeological site is open 7 days a week, 8am – 5pm and entrance is $35 pesos.
For more photos of Zaachila click here