What is the meaning of Teotitlán?
Teotitlán is a word from the Nahuatl language, native to the Aztecs, meaning “Place of the Gods.”
According to the Zapotec legend, a god was sent to Teotitlán from the heavens, disguised in the form of a bird and accompanied by a constellation of stars, to establish a temple of an ancient Zapotec idol.
The ruins of this temple, called the Stone of the Sun, are still visible from the church located in the center square of Teotitlán del Valle.
The Zapotec name for Teotitlan is Xaguixe, meaning “at the foot of the mountain.”
What is Teotitlán known for?
Teotitlán is world-famous as the traditional textile town in Oaxaca, known for its handwoven textiles, especially Teotitlán del Valle rugs weaved with foot looms.
The Teotitlán community specializes in hand weaving, known as “laadi” in the local Nahuatl language.
Families in Teotitlán del Valle celebrate and preserve ancient hand weaving and looming techniques passed down from generation to generation.
The local weavers specialize in foot looms and natural dyes obtained from the alfalfa plant, pecans, and cochineal – an insect native to Mexico.
The wool is obtained from locally raised sheep, woven on pedal looms and naturally dyed to produce a wide range of colors and traditional Aztec and Zapotec patterns.
Wondering where you can buy a rug in Teotitlán? Here are our recommendations.
The streets of Teotitlán are lined with artisanal workshops and family-owned textile shops, and travelers will feel spoiled for choice, given the abundance of woven rugs and richly patterned fabrics.
How old is Teotitlán del Valle?
The earliest historical records of Teotitlán del Valle can be traced back to around 1465 when the village was founded by Zapotec settlers.
Over centuries, Teotitlán emerged as a hub for handwoven textiles and known for its preservation of ancient Zapotec techniques and artisanal designs.
Teotitlán is considered to be the first settlement founded by the Zapotecs, and visitors can explore artisanal households preserving ancient weaving techniques passed down from their ancestors.
What language do they speak in Teotitlán del Valle?
The inhabitants of Teotitlán del Valle speak the Zapotec language – a diverse family of over 40 indigenous Mesoamerican languages collectively known as Zapotec.
The locals communicate in multiple Zapotec languages, including the ancient Nahuatl language.
Where is Teotitlán del Valle located?
The traditional Zapotec town of Teotitlán del Valle is located just 35 minutes (18 mi /29 km) from the center of Oaxaca City, serving as a gateway to the Sierra Norte Mountains.
This traditional textile town in Oaxaca is world-renowned for preserving ancient Zapotec weaving traditions and pre-Hispanic heritage.
Teotitlán is perched at the foothills of Sierra Juarez in the Central Oaxacan Valley, within proximity to the stunning El Picacho hike.
How to get to Teotitlán del Valle
Teotitlán del Valle is the ideal destination for a short day trip from Oaxaca since the village is only 35 minutes drive from Oaxaca City Center.
Transportation options for visiting Teotitlán del Valle include: colectivo, bus, taxi or private transportation (recommended).
Arriving to Oaxaca Airport? Book your airport transportation in advance of your arrival.
A colectivo is a public, shared mode of transportation that picks up and drops off passengers along a route.
Taking a colectivo is a popular option for adventurous visitors with at least a beginner to intermediate level of Spanish.
Tip: Take any colectivo heading in the direction of Mitla or Tlacolula and ask to be dropped at crucero, the split where the highway and Av. Benito Juarez turns off to the right in the direction of Teotitlán del Valle. From there, you’ll need to hail a moto, taxi, or another colectivo to reach the center.
Teotitlán Colectivo: https://goo.gl/maps/VziJCgv8kdj5jPT2A
If you prefer taking a bus to Teotitlán over taking a colectivo, you can do so. You’ll need to do the same as you would with the colectivo and ask the driver to drop you off at crucero. From there you can make your way into the center of Teotitlán del Valle.
Tip: The bus from Oaxca to Teotitlán can be found on the same corner as the colectivos on the northeast corner of the Vasconcelos Baseball field.
Teotitlán Bus: https://goo.gl/maps/VziJCgv8kdj5jPT2A
Hiring a taxi is another option for those who are looking for a way to visit Teotitlán del Valle with the option of making a few other stops along the way.
While this option will be more expensive than the first two public transportation options, it will be a lot more comfortable than taking a colectivo or a local bus from Oaxaca City to Teotitlán.
One of the downsides of taking a taxi to Teotitlán include the fact that most taxi drivers will not be bilingual. In other words, haggling for a fair price will be tough if your Spanish isn’t up to par.
At the end of the day, taking a taxi to Teotitlán should be considered as the second best option on this list after hiring a private driver.
The best way to visit Teotitlán and explore the surrounding area is to hire private transportation with a professional, licensed, bilingual driver for the day.
With a private driver, you have the flexibility to work out a set rate with your driver and you can choose to let the driver share his personal recommendations or you can build your own route and enjoy your time without having to worry about driving, parking or making necessary stops for bathrooms, shopping and sightseeing along the way.
We also recommend combining your visit to Teotitlán with a visit to Hierve el Agua.
Where to buy rugs in Teotitlán?
There are a wide variety of workshops and stores in Teotitlán that sell traditional Zapotec rugs. Below, you’ll find a list of our top recommendations.
Vida Nueva (New Life) is an all-female cooperative built in 1996 that provides jobs, weaving skills and other economic, artistic based opportunities to women in the indigenous Mexican community known as the Zapotec people.
They offer traditional, hand made products and a wide variety of workshops including dye workshops, textiles, ceramics and more.
Contact Information: Email | WhatsApp: +52 951 199 6070
- Dixza Rugs
- Artesanias del Valle
- Bullmaro Pérez Mendoza
- Taller Nahualli
- Tejidos Zapotecos
- Craft Workshop Nelson Perez Mendoza
How much are the rugs in Teotitlán?
Prices for rugs in Teotitlán del Valle can range from $70 USD to more than $5,000 depending on the size, the intricacy of the design and the raw materials used.
A small rug or souvenir featuring a basic Zapotec design is likely to come at a reasonable price, but more intricate designs that take months to complete obviously going to be more costly.
When examining the prices, it’s important to understand that many of these products are handmade and handwoven using high quality materials including wool and ingredients such as natural dyes extracted from cochineal and Brazilwood.
Tip: The best way to find the best deals in Teotitlán is to shop around and avoid committing to purchases before you see what else you can find at other nearby workshops.
Best things to do in Teotitlán del Valle
1. Markets & Shopping
Art and culture enthusiasts who love bustling marketplaces can spend hours walking through the streets lined with vibrant rugs and handwoven textiles.
You can also visit family-run artisanal workshops and studios to get a deeper understanding of how the traditional weaving process works.
2. Nature & Hiking
After shopping for Zapotec rugs in Teotitlán, adventurous travelers are recommended to set out and explore the surrounding mountain paths and trails.
Teotitlán del Valle serves as an ideal base to explore a variety of hiking trails leading deep into the Sierra Norte Mountains.
Tip: The El Picacho hike is highly recommended for bird watchers and nature lovers.
3. Strolling & Street Food
Visitors to Teotitlán can stroll through the village streets, enjoying the local street food and vibrant square, home to a magnificent colonial-style church, La Iglesia Preciosa Sangre de Cristo.
4. Visit a Museum
The Museo Comunitario tells the story of Teotitlán del Valle with well-preserved artifacts and archaeological remnants, beginning with the village’s Zapotec origins to the Aztec Empire and modern Mexican traditions.
Museo Comunitario Location: https://goo.gl/maps/NjXtGXBesWMPX6E58
5. Events & Festivals
There are numerous cultural and religious festivals that go down in Teotitlán each year.
One of the more popular events is known as the La Danza de la Pluma, meaning the dance of the feather – a musical reenactment of the battle between the Aztecs and the Spanish.
What many visitors fail to realize about Teotitlán is that there is so much more to see, do and explore in and around the area if shopping at the textile markets isn’t your thing.
The village is surrounded by historical landmarks, archaeological sites and rewarding hikes, attracting visitors with a number of cultural and outdoor activities.
For more info on the best festivals to attend in Oaxaca, click here.