Cuilapam, San Antonio Arrazola and Zaachila

On this tour, you visit the Exconvento de Santiago Apostol, an elaborate but unfinished 16th century ex-convent located in the town of Cuilapam de Guerrero.

Prior to the arrival of Hernan Cortes, the site was a Zapotec and then a Mixtec indigenous settlement. The construction of the basilica began in the 1500’s with the Dominican friars’ goal of evangelizing the alebrijesindigenous population of the area. The Exconvento de Santiago Apostol is also the site of the 1831 execution of Vicente Guerrero, Independence hero and ex-president of Mexico.

Next is the town of Arrazola, known for its alebrijes, or colorful hand carved and painted animals that are seen in markets and tourist shops in and around Oaxaca. Students have the opportunity to visit local homes where the wooden creatures are produced.

The final stop of the tour is at Zaachila, a Zapotec archaeological site uncovered in 1962. Several mounds remain unexcavated, but one tomb is open for viewing. Although artifacts from Zaachila are now housed in museums, visitors can view bas-reliefs and inscriptions on the tomb walls.