The city of Oaxaca is relatively flat, but one clear days the hills and mountains surrounding it look close enough to touch them. In certain neighborhoods that are on higher grounds you get a wonderful view of not only the mountains in the distance but also the city itself under your feet. One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Oaxaca was this white structure that look like some futuristic helmet. It looms over the city below and is visible from almost everywhere so I would sometimes use it as my compass. Funnily enough some locals call it Tanga de Hercules or Hercules’ thong.
I’m always looking for a trail or places I can walk to explore and nearly everyone I talked to recommended that I climb up to Cerro del Fortín. Well, Cerro del Fortín turned out to be where this white structure was built and my skeletal helmut was an auditorium specifically built for the big pre-Hispanic festival of Guelaguetza which takes place every July.
I read later that in the recent years the auditorium and the festival itself have become quite controversial as more tourists and commercial endeavors are associated with them. For me, however, the auditorium was a destination for evening strolls and a way to get some exercise into my day. To get up there, I would
run slowly walk up these stairs…There are usually runners, local residents walking their dogs, children playing around, and a few vendors selling soft drinks and snacks along the way. A few little streets branch off of the stairs into other neighborhoods, but this little alleyway always made me smile because of the helpful sign that says “alley with no name”
At the top of the stairs, there is a tunnel that goes below a major highway (highway 190). A few people warned me it could be dangerous up on Cerro del Fortín so I was mindful in the beginning to pick the time of the day when I thought there would be more people around.I think what they were referring to was the area behind the auditorium in the hills but I did find the tunnel a bit creepy. It could have been better lit, but I’d pass through it quickly and it wasn’t such a big deal.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of murals inside the tunnel though.
Once outside the tunnel, I was greeted by more murals.
A few more flights of stairs later, I was rewarded with a panoramic view of the city of Oaxaca.
You can walk further up the dirt road and get to the planetarium.
Rather than taking the same road back down, I would follow the path in the back towards the parking lot. It gave me a chance to say hello to the large statue of Benito Juárez..