Passed down from one generation to the next, Mexico’s traditional crafts are valued across the globe and are a major draw for tourism. Visitors often leave the country with their luggage packed to the brim with local art pieces and handcrafted garments. Both pre-colonial and modern art is still found throughout the country, especially in Mexico’s many artisan markets. With that in mind, here are the top markets you should definitely try and check out.
Located in Mexico City’s most charming colonial neighborhood, El Mercado Artesanal de Coyoacán boasts a huge variety of handcrafted textiles, artwork and quirky souvenirs. Famed throughout the country, the market is a great place to shop for souvenirs at prices lower than those found in the shops of central Mexico City. Keep an eye out for traditional indigenous items such as rebozos (shawls) and huipiles (tunics). The intricate, colourful designs are often loaded with symbolism and provide a vital link to the past.
Another iconic Mexico City market, La Ciudadela offers stall after stall of folk art, traditional textiles and elaborate, locally-made jewelry. Founded before the 1968 Summer Olympics to promote Mexican culture, the market now has more than 350 vendors. You can spend hours exploring the stalls and admiring the handicrafts on offer. If your Spanish is up to the task, this is also a great place to bargain with vendors – the first price is rarely the lowest.
This huge indoor crafts market specializes in all manner of traditional Mexican textiles – offering huipiles, blouses, shirts and bags. The market opened in 1980 and now boasts more than 130 stalls. Vendors travel in from remote indigenous towns and sell traditional items to Mexican and international tourists. Souvenir hunters will find an impressive variety and prices that are far lower than in Mexico City.
The picturesque colonial town of San Miguel de Allende boasts one of Mexico’s most impressive artisan markets. Open daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., the covered market is divided between craft stalls and food stalls selling candy, honey and herbs. Handcrafted rugs and clothing are sold alongside traditional toys and ceramics. Located in a city famed for its painters, sculptors and craftsmen, the market does not disappoint when it comes to traditional Mexican folk art.
Situated in the mysterious town of San Juan Chamula, just 6 miles (10 kilometers) outside of San Cristóbal de las Casas, this artisan market is open every Sunday, although there is a smaller market during the week as well. A traditional refuge of Tzotzil indigenous culture, San Juan Chamula is famed for its wool handicrafts. Homespun textiles and brightly-colored wool animals line the stalls, but just wandering through this traditional indigenous market is an experience in itself.
Founded in 1760 and moved to its current location in 1961, El Parián is one of the oldest handicraft markets in Mexico. It is also the city’s second favorite tourist destination, after the cathedral. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the market offers a wide range of textile products, including costumes such as the china poblana, the traditional women’s dress in the state. Keep an eye out for amate paper, an artisanal bark paper used for magical rituals that is produced in the northern highlands of Puebla.
One of the best artisan markets in western Mexico, El Mercado de Artesanías in San Juan de los Lagos boasts an impressive range of handcrafted goods at very accessible prices. Among the most fascinating items are those made and sold by the Wixárika, or Huichol people, who are native to the highlands of Jalisco. The Wixárika are famed for their brightly colored artwork and jewelry, which often contains imagery related to the psychedelic plant peyote.
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