Imagine shopping at a livestock market that’s existed for 800 years, or wandering the grounds of an ancient city that’s riddled with unearthed tombs. Both are possible here in Zaachila, a small town on Oaxaca’s outskirts where visitors travel for the weekly market and glimpse of Zapoteca culture. While the Zapoteca political movement is complicated at best, there’s no denying the autonomous culture you encounter here in the hills. Market day is every Thursday, which is a time when indigenous farmers and traders exchange their wares in the same way their ancestors have done for centuries. It’s believed that the tianguis, or weekly market, has taken place in a similar style since before the Spanish arrival, and even today you will still find merchants conversing in Zapotec tongues. Nearby, outside the town, the Zaachila archeological site is a mostly unexcavated pre-Hispanic city that many say was a regional capital upon the Spanish arrival. A few of the important tombs have been excavated, but the ruins still largely exist untouched as they have for 500 years, with views of the surrounding valley and town stretching out from the pyramid’s peaks.
Zaachila is located approximately 15 miles outside the city of Oaxaca. Shared taxis and guided tours run regularly between the two towns, which is most popularly visited on Thursday mornings to take part in the weekly market.