Tehuantepec Tourist Attractions
How to get thereMexico City by rail about 23 hours; by bus via Oaxaca about 12 hours; by car on the Panaméricana (MEX 190).The town of Tehuantepec, which is an important road and rail junction, has given its name not only to the Gulf along the Pacific coast but also to the isthmus where Mexico is at its narrowest (only 200km/125mi wide). This tropical town, with its humid climate and lush vegetation, is situated in a valley surrounded by low hills and the broad sweep of the Río Tehuantepec. The population consists of Zapotecs and Mestizos.Tehuantepec (Náhuatl: "mountain of the jaguar") almost certainly had a long history prior to the arrival of the Spanish for it was a centre of the Zapotecs. Around AD 1470 the town was occupied by an army led by Axayácatl, the ruler of the Aztecs.At the time of the arrival of the Spanish in 1521-22 the town was ruled by Prince Cocijo-pii, who was the son of the Zapotec king Cocijo-eza and an Aztec princess. The prince allied himself with the Spanish against the Aztecs. At the beginning of the colonial period Tehuantepec was one of the possessions of Hernán Cortés.This strategically important town, situated on the shortest land connection in Mexico between the Atlantic and Pacific, set Cortés and then later the Spanish viceroy and the Mexican government thinking about communication routes in this area of the continent. Roads were built, and also a railway line, but the plans to dig a canal never came to fruition. Tehuantepec's importance plummeted when the Panama Canal was opened in 1914 and it is only since the oil boom in Mexico over the last few years and the laying of a pipeline from Teapa in the state of Veracruz that the port of Salina Cruz and with it Tehuantepec have acquired a more significant role.The town has only a few old buildings of any interest. The former Dominican church dating from 1544, now the cathedral, has been rebuilt on several occasions but still retains its old arches and domes. The colourful town hall, supported on pillars, is very striking.
17km/10.5mi to the south of Tehuantepec lies the port of Salina Cruz (70 m (230 ft); population 75,000), which has recently enjoyed a big upsurge in activity as a trans-shipment and processing centre for oil. The town is only really worth a visit, however, for those also wishing to go to the long beach of La Ventosa (Posada Rustrian), which is 7km/4.3mi away.
Juchitan de Zaragoza
Taking the MEX 190 from Tehuantepec in an easterly direction, the visitor comes after 26km/16mi to Juchitán de Zaragoza (38 m (125 ft); population 100,000; fiestas: May 15th, San Isidro Labrador; August 13th, Vela de Agosto; September 3rd, Vela Pineda). The town is important as a trading centre for the surrounding region. Of interest to the visitor are the market and the attractive folk costumes which are mainly worn for the fiestas.
About 15km/9.3mi west of Tehuantepec a country track branches off from the MEX 190 to the right and leads to the ruins of Guiengola. At the end of the 6km/4mi long track a path leads up the mountain slope through a picturesque landscape of rocks, bushes and cacti to a summit (ascent about one hour). Here, about 400 m (1312 ft) above the valley and situated on the mountain of Guiengola, are the ruins of the Zapotecs' last great fortress.The remains of a 3m (10ft) high and 2m (6.5ft) wide wall, which once encircled the whole mountain, have been preserved. On the great square stand the remains of a large pyramid-shaped temple on four levels, three smaller cult buildings and a ball court. On the slope there once stood the palace of the Zapotec king, Cocijo-eza, who successfully defended this fortress in 1496 against the attacks of Aztec invaders. From the cliffs there is a wonderful view across the valley of Tehuantepec.