Inside Oaxaca’s Hidden Market – A visit to the 20 de Noviembre Market.

By Posted in - North America & Photo Stories & Travel Blog on December 20th, 2009

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Like other bustling cities in Mexico, Oaxaca has several excellent markets.

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We ended up in staying at Hostel Del Mercado which was located right next to the 20 de Noviembre Market which conveniently, as you might guess, is located on 20 Noviembre street. Luckily for us we were able to visit the 20 de Noviembre Market in Oaxaca constantly during our stay.

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The market is inside a very large building that doesn’t really look too different from any other building on the outside. There are a lot of street vendors all around the outside of it selling pretty much everything you could possibly need from batteries to fried crickets.

Carrying flowers past the outside market vendors.

With all the street activity we actually walked right by the 20 de Noviembre market a couple times before we even discovered it.

Once inside it is a very different experience from any of the vendors on the street.

It is like stepping into another world. Smoke rises from food stalls and wafts through the market enticing the senses. The smell of baked bread and grilled meat smacks you straight in the face as you walk through the door.

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It almost seems endless as you wander aimlessly through the stalls which lead seamlessly from one item to the next. Meat leads to bread which leads to flowers which leads to clothing, chocolate and everything else you can possibly imagine in between just waiting to be discovered. With Day of the Dead approaching, the smell of incense and flowers encased every crevice in the old building.

The market, which seemed to be a large local hangout, was absolutely incredible and became a staple of our trip when we wanted cheap food, trinkets or hot chocolate. I would love to go back to Oaxaca just to spend more time photographing the market. It was that beautiful.

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There is also another market which was I saw in the 1,000 Things To Do Before You Die book right before we left San Diego – the Abastos Market. We walked several city blocks to get to this market because it was described as “magical” by the author. With all the beautiful sites in Oaxaca worth talking about I figured this market must be amazing since it was the only listing for the entire city. It was not.

It was congested, busy and loud. While it was without a doubt much larger than the Noviembre market it was also gross. It was so dirty that you felt that need to wash your hands immediately. Everything was covered in grime, dust and grease. I would only return if there was something I absolutely needed and could not find anywhere else. They had everything – from garden hoses to goats – but it lacked the charm of typical markets that you would expect in Mexico. In fact, I will most likely not look anything up in that book again due to the horrid inaccuracy of that listing. Other people we met agreed that it was disappointing, dirty and disgusting.

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With the easy location and in-your-face charm the 20 de Noviembre market is by far the winner and a must see on any visit to Oaxaca.

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(7) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Brooke vs. the World -

    January 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Your photos are always so interesting!
    .-= Brooke vs. the World´s last blog ..Americans Don’t Speak English =-.

    • beth -

      January 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Brooke! I’m glad you like them. I was just thinking of you and realized we haven’t “talked” in a while. I hope things are good with you. 🙂

  • Travelogged -

    March 7, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I love these photos — so vibrant!

  • […] we stumbled up one day – the 20 de Noviembre Market. It is named for the street it is on and you can see some more pictures from that market on another post I wrote about it. I LOVED that market and consider it a MUST SEE for any trip to Oaxaca. This is where we ate a lot […]

  • […] Inside Oaxaca’s Hidden Market […]

  • jasmine jean -

    April 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    These are amazing photos! I got in So much trouble when i tried to photograph there, the lady was going to rip the camera from my hands! But, most vendors are ok with it. I agree that the Abastos marke,t in Oaxaca, is disgusting And dangerous. It is in a bad area of town and not worth the trip, especially when 20 de Noviembre is right in centro and is so incredibly beautiful!! I also traveled to another market, that you would have loved….sure wish I could remember where it was, and what it is called! You had to take a tiny bus to a little village just outside of town….and it was Great….the BEST mole I’ve ever eaten…Ever. I’ll see if I can find my old journals to figure out where it was exactly. Great photos, this really takes me back there!

    • Bethany -

      April 18, 2011 at 6:04 am

      Oh yeah, I’d love to know where the other one is. I loved this market though it was awesome. The food was incredible too! @jasmine jean,