Oaxaca: (Oaxaca state)

Considered the most colonial city in Mexico, Oaxaca was founded by Hernan Cortes in 1529. It sits in a valley surrounded by the towering Sierra Madre del Sur. Built in the shadow of the ruins of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations, it is a stunning mixture of colonial and Indian influence.

Many of Oaxaca's buildings are constructed of an unusual greenish volcanic stone that takes on a golden tone at sunset. Others are painted bright turquoise or pink. Bougainvillea and roses tumble over the walls, and geraniums spill out of huge clay pots. Completing this colorful palette is the azure blue sky over the valley.

Oaxaca and the surrounding villages are rich with architectural styles from the past. The streets are filled with churches and other colonial-era structures that are ornate and splendid. Except for the presence of cars, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a bygone era. An incentive trip to Oaxaca can be combined with a trip to the Bays of Huatulco.