Living History

“History isn't about dates and places and wars. It's about the people who fill the spaces between them.” — Jodi Picoult

Understanding yesterday makes sense of today ...

History IS the path to understanding Academic journeys bring history to life and compel students to connect with the past to understand the present and contemplate the future.

As one of the longest-inhabited places in North America — dating from 11,000 BCE — Oaxaca is indeed a historical epicenter in North America — and we experience it all: From prehistoric petroglyphs to pre-Hispanic cultures and ruins to the Spanish Conquest and Spanish Colonial rule to modern expressions of the long and rich history of the region.

We engage students in learning about the history of Oaxaca and in making connections with prior historical knowledge prior to departure to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and context for understanding the history they will experience on the journey.

We lead students on historical explorations that connect them with the past and the cultures that dominated and, in many ways, continue to thrive.

We pose questions to ignite their intellectual curiosity and to help them to compare, contrast, and opine on the connections they see between then and now and the future.

We listen to their observations, impressions, and conclusions.

Bringing history to life is yet another way in which our journeys foster learning and academic enrichment.

We invite you to discover below some of the historical explorations students will enjoy on our Discover Oaxaca journeys. Of course, this is merely a sampling of all the historical elements of the journey.

Monte Alban

Monte Albán — founded around 500 BCE — is one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica and was around the pre-eminent Zapotec sociopolitical and economic center for close to a thousand years. 

Students will learn the history of Monte Albán including the tombs, the famous Los Danzantes (Dancers) carvings, the ball court, and the astronomical observatory.

Santiago Apóstol 

The Ex-monastery of Santiago Apóstol is a historically important Spanish Colonial complex that dates from around 1550 CE and was never fully finished.  

This important edifice  boasts some of the most important frescoes in Mexico that depict a merging of indigenous beliefs and Spanish Roman Catholicism as a part of the evangelization of the local Mixtec and Zapotec people.


Mitla — the Zapotec religious center dating from 900 BCE. 

The Zapotec people called it Lyobaa, which means “place of rest.” The current name, Mitla, is the hispanicization of the Nahuatl (the Aztec language) name Mictlán — “the place of the dead or underworld.”  

Mitla is unique among all other Mesoamerican archeological sites for its elaborate and intricate mosaics and geometric designs that decorate tombs, panels, and entire walls made with small, finely cut and polished stone pieces fitted together without the use of mortar.

Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo Church

The Templo de Santo Domingo — the Church of Santo Domingo — the iconic church of Oaxaca.

Construction of Santo Domingo began in 1565 and took almost 200 years to complete. This stunning church has been fully restored, and its decorated interior includes more than 60,000 sheets of 23.5-karat gold leaf.

In addition to this amazing edifice, we will also visit numerous other Spanish Colonial masterpieces in Oaxaca and surrounding towns and villages.

Spanish Colonial Center

The Spanish Colonial Center of Oaxaca is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of remarkably maintain architectural masterpieces from the period. 

Our discovery walks each will allow students to appreciate these incredible constructions and learn about their history, significance, and role is the historical interplay between the indigenous populations and cultures of the region and the Spanish colonization of Mexico.