Week 1: Mexico City
Discover one of the oldest cities in the Americas. Mexico City boasts four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and well over 650 museums that appeal to all interests and tastes, from the renowned Museum of Anthropology to various buildings proudly displaying extraordinary murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. We explore the canals and floating gardens of Xochimilco, as well as one of the most powerful cultural centres in Mesoamerica, the Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan.
Week 2: Central Mexico and Veracruz
We explore the 16th century monasteries on the slopes of Popocatepetl, Cuernavaca, the ruins of Xochicalco, the magnificent Spanish colonial architecture of Puebla, and Cholula and Tlaxcala. We then discover the state of Veracruz, which played an important part in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, led by Hernán Cortés. Here we explore the historical port city of Veracruz, Xalapa, Papantla and the magnificent Totonac ruins of El Tajin.
Week 3: Treasures of the Sierra Madre
A visit to the colonial cities of Mexico transports you to a world where traditions endure and romance thrives. We explore Querétaro, the 18th century Franciscan missions of Sierra Gorda, the city of Morelia, artistic town of San Miquel de Allende, lively Guadalajara, the agave landscapes of Tequila, the silver mining towns of Guanajuato and Zacatecas and the ghost town of Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosí.
Week 4: Oaxaca
Oaxaca is the most diverse state in Mexico. We explore the Historic Centre of Oaxaca; the pre-hispanic archaeological sites of Monte Albán, Mitla and Yagul, the artisan villages of Ocotlan, San Bartolo Coyotepec, San Martin de Tilcajete, Santa Maria Atzompa, Santa Maria del Tule, Santo Tomas Jalitzea, Tlacochahuaya and Tlacolula. On the Pacific Coast we will discover the beaches of Huatulco, Puerto Escondido and Zipolite, along with Mazuynte, a centre for giant sea turtles.
Week 5: Lands of the Maya
The Maya are probably the best-known of the classical civilizations of Mesoamerica. We will explore the ancient Mayan cities of Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Cobá, Tulum, Kohunlich, Edzná and Calakmul on the Yucatán Peninsula and the fascinating ruins of Toniná, Palenque, Yaxchilán and Bonampak in the jungles of Chiapas. See the Maya people of today and how their traditional beliefs have intermixed with Christianity to provide one of the world's most unique samples of living syncretism in San Cristóbal de las Casas, San Juan de Chamula and Zinacantán in the highlands of Chiapas.
Week 6: The Day of the Dead
We conclude our course with a session discovering the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday celebrated in many parts of the world, typically on November 1, All Saint’s Day and November 2, All Soul’s Day. In Mexico, where the holiday has perhaps its highest prominence, the holiday has ancient Mesoamerican roots and is a national holiday. The emphasis is on celebrating and honouring the lives of the deceased and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.