Street art of Oaxaca

Oaxacan street art Mexico
Oaxacan street art Mexico

Mexico has a long history of political instability and a consequent mistrust of leaders by the populace. A recent change of President has done nothing to assuage this and in fact there is widespread fear surrounding the immediate future. One wall in Oaxaca proudly sports graffiti stating, in English, “Welcome to the city of defiance”, and here, in this capital city of one of the country’s poorest states, there is tangible distaste for the rulers hundreds of miles away in Mexico City, real fears that poverty will intensify, and a determination to preserve the rights of the individual indigenous tribes.

Whilst here we have seen no aggression, no public activist behaviour. Instead, the defiance, and the socio-political commentary, is displayed in the form of incredibly good street art, adorning the walls of many old buildings, depicting scenes of oppression and pride in origin in the most imaginative and artful ways. The works are truly brilliant, there must be some serious talent here. What an amazing way to express your views. Just look at these examples…

Oaxacan street art Mexico

Oaxacan street art Mexico

Oaxacan street art

Oaxacan street art Mexico

Oaxacan street art Mexico

Oaxacan street art Mexico

Your 2-minute guide to Oaxaca city, Mexico

A quiet cobbled street in Oaxaca Mexico
A quiet street

First off, it’s a wonderful place, full of life and colour and food and traditional Mexico. Here’s our introductory guide to this lovely city.

The city is for the most part built on a grid of roadways, making navigation on foot very easy; you will be given directions such as “walk two blocks past the market, turn left and walk three blocks, it’s on your left”. The city radiates around and way from the main square, the Zocalo, and nearly all of the main sights are within easy walking distance of the square. The Zocalo itself is incredible, loud and colourful, restaurants on three of its four sides, teeming with life and oozing Mexican spirit; the cathedral, the wonderfully intense markets, Santo Domingo and many other sumptuous buildings are within just a few minutes walk of the Zocalo, as are craft shops and mezcal bars, both in abundance.

Aromas of food permeate the senses; sometimes taco stalls, sometimes grilled meats, but the most intense are those occasional streets housing the chocolate makers, the whole street full of deep scent of chocolate.

The madness of the Zocalo is one thing; but perhaps the true Oaxaca is to be found in the calmness of its quieter neighbourhoods, cobbled streets separating the rows of low aspect houses, houses in ochre and primary colours, leafy lanes, trailing flowers, cafes, shops and bars anonymous by day then open at night (and vice versa), smiling faces, friendly chatter. Our own neighbourhood, Jalatlaco, is a former Zapotec tribal village now absorbed by the city, retaining a peaceful character yet just 15 minutes walk from Santo Domingo. Characterised by the distinctive wall art which decorate several of the quaint buildings – a modern twist brought about by socio-political unrest – Jalatlaco has a charm all of its own.

But don’t ignore the Zocalo, or the two major markets next door to each other, just being part of the verve and the madness is stimulating and exciting. The city’s leafy squares and tree lined streets and the archetypal low slung characterful Mexican buildings are so endearing, yet the dual existence of the craziness of the centre and the serenity of the outer neighbourhoods, so close together, provides the travelling visitor with a sumptuous mix. Add on the incredible food, the obsession with mezcal, the huge numbers of places to eat, the mountains towering above, and shielding, the city, and you have a destination which once visited will never be forgotten.