Mixtec drawings

San Pedro, Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo



Map to Tututepec

The original name of San Pedro in the Mixtec language is "Yucu Saa" (or "Yucu Dzaa"). Yucu is "hill" and Saa is "bird" in Mixtec.[1] The town took its name from a large hill where large numbers of birds settled. After the Spanish conquest the city was referred to by its Nahuátl name Totol Tepec.[2] Most locals refer to San Pedro as Tututepec or sometimes "Tutu". I will refer to San Pedro as Tututepec also. I have never heard anyone call it San Pedro.[3]


According to various Mixtec codices, Mixtec King Nizainzo Huidzo ordered 20,000 families and 50 priests to settle coastal Oaxaca.[4] Under the leadership of Mixtec Prince Mzatzin, in 357 CE the city of Tututepec was established.[5] The hills and numerous springs and a commanding position over the coast made it a natural fort.

King 8 Deer, 1011-1063 CE, through marriages and conquests brought Tututepec the control of the coast of Oaxaca from the border of what is now the state of Guerrero to Huatulco and it extended inland by 75 km or 47 miles[6], and the tribute that went with it.

In February 1522, Spanish conquistador Pedro Alvarado gathered an army together in Zaachila, Oaxaca, to conquer the Mixtecs. He had a total of 15000 soldiers comprised of 10,000 Zapotecs, 5000 Indigenous from the central valley of Mexico, 180 Spanish Infantry solders and 80 horses. On the 4th of March he conquered Tututepec.[7] Within a hundred years 90% of Mexico's population would be dead from poor Spanish treatment and newly introduced diseases.

Modern day Tututepec is built directly on top of the old Tututepec. The Catholic Church is built right on top of a pyramid.

Getting there

Entrance to Tututepec

Tututepec is located an hour and 45 minutes away from Puerto Escondido. Take Highway 200 and head west towards the state of Guerrero until you pass through Santa Rosa de Lima, about 90 minutes. Just outside of Santa Rosa de Lima (or west of) on Highway 200, there is a statue of the famous Mixtec King, Lord 8 Deer. Turn at the statue. Where the road divides, head to the left and drive up the hills. San Pedro is about a 15 minute drive from the highway.

The easiest way to get there from Puerto Escondido is to use a public suburban.[8] The suburbans leave every 15 minutes and costs 45 pesos in July 2016, the ride will take 90 minutes and will drop you off at Santa Rosa de Lima at the location where colectivos (a shared taxi) collect passengers to go to San Pedro, Tututepec. The Tututepec colectivos leaves when there are five passengers and costs 20 pesos each. The colectivos stop at the entrance of the City Hall. Be aware that the colectivos will probably call San Pedro - "Tutu". Same place.[9]

What to do?

When you visit Tutu you should visit the Museum, the cemetery, City Hall, and the Catholic Church.

The best times to visit San Pedro Tututepec are during Easter Week Semana Santa or when the town celebrates its anniversary around the 10th, 11th and 12th of April. The town has a Guelaguetza the Monday after the Guelaguetza in Oaxaca City finishes in July or August. There are also numerous fiestas held there. You can contact one of the Tututepec Facebook pages listed at the bottom of the page to find out more.

The Museum

Museo Comunitario YucuSaa

I would head to the museum first. The museum hours are posted as Monday through Saturday, 10:00-16:00 hrs but sometimes it is not open. If it is not open when you arrive, it probably will be open later. Entrance to the museum is free. The museum is located about 100 meters from the city hall.

On the first floor there is a small museum with over 2000 artifacts. In the courtyard are some carved rocks and a collection on corn grinders. There are a a few artifacts on the second floor and photo display of the town 60 years ago.

It is a small museum, you can see it all within 30 minutes.

The Cemetery

I would recommend going to the cemetery after the museum before it gets too hot.

Tututepec has a really interesting and unique cemetery. The old one is within walking distance of City Hall. You can also take a taxi there for 20 pesos and walk back when you are done visiting the cemetery. Visit Tututepec Cemetery to see more images of the cemetery.

City Hall

Many city halls in Mexico have murals, usually patriotic or historical in nature but I have seen nothing that can compare to Tututepec's. There are close to 30 murals and they are set up to tell/demonstrate the history of Tututepec, very much like the surviving Mixtec codices show the history of the prior to the conquest and early conquest periods of Tututepec. These murals are really worth seeing.

The murals at the city hall are in historical sequential order. The photos below are not.

The first mural is of the Mixtec creation myth(?). The second mural is of Lord 8 Deer, whose conquests led to the Mixtec control of coastal Oaxaca.

The Spanish conquest led to the deaths of 90% of the native population within 100 years. To make up for the labor shortage, the Spanish brought slaves from Africa.

The Catholic church originally assisted in the exploitation of the natives. As time progressed, the Catholic church changed to care for more of its believers.

The Church

The Catholic Church was built directly on top the Pyramid of the Sky in the 16th century. It is the oldest parish church on the coast of Oaxaca.[10]

Outside of the church there is a collection of old church bells, one dating from 1819. There is also an area for city events including a common cooking area.


Tututepec Mercado

Tututepec's market is located right next to the City Hall. The small market has maybe thirty stalls. At the entrance there are some taco stalls.

This is a small town. There is not a bank or gas station or even a hotel. There is an ATM machine at the city hall to withdraw money if needed. There are rooms for rent by the pharmacy across from the City Hall. If you have zero interest in small towns, this place is not for you.

I happen to like small towns. The people of Tutu are well aware of their town's historical past and are proud of it. I found the people to be especially friendly.

Recommended Links

If you are interested in learning more about San Pedro Tututepec, you might want to visit Geri's Corner, A Visit to one of Mexico's Oldest Continuously Governed Cities and San Pedro Tututepec's Graveyard.

Photo Credits

Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Footnotes and Notes

  1. 1. Levine, Marc. Home Page of Marc Levine, Ph.D.. University of Colorado. Retrieved June 2016.
  2. 2. 2016. Tututepec. Spanish. p. 11.
  3. 3. There are many cities named San Pedro in Oaxaca. Referring to San Pedro as San Pedro, Tututepec or San Pedro, Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo will make things things more clear. Usually the locals will refer to the city of San Pedro as Tututepec, sometimes as Tutu.
  4. 4. H. Ayuntamiento de Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo. Enciclopedia de Los Municipios y Delegaciones de México: Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo. INAFED (Instituto Nacional para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal). Spanish. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  5. 5. Ibid.
  6. 6. Joyce, A. A., Winter M., & Mueller R. G. (1998). Estudios de Antropología e Historia N. 40. Arqueología de la Costa de Oaxaca: Asentamientos del Periodo Formativo en el Valle del Río Verde Inferior. Centro INAH Oaxaca, Mexico. p. 9.
  7. 7. Gopar Martínez, Eleuterio. 2011. Acercamiento Microhistoria al Pueblo de San Pedro Mixtepec-Juquila, Oaxaca. Carteles Editores-Proveedora Gráfica de Oaxaca, S.A. de C.V. Spanish. p. 40.
  8. 8. For those with long legs, the seat to the right of the driver, next to the window, has the most leg space.
  9. 9. Sometimes there can be a long wait for a colectivo (a shared taxi), the colectivo leaves when the five seats are rented. If you pay for five seats, the colectivo is ready to go. Be polite about this, if someone is waiting, let him pay for his seat, rent the other empty seats and off you all go. Taxi and colectivo drivers are great sources of information.
  10. 10. 2016. Tututepec. Spanish. P. 10. The mayor of Tututepec distributed the tourist magazine Tututepec; the author(s) and publisher are unknown. I translated Templo del Cielo to Pyramid of the Sky, but it can also be translated into Pyramid of Heaven.
  11. Other links of interest:
  12. John Pohl's MESOAMERICA, ANCIENT BOOKS: Mixtec Group Codices . Famsi.org. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  13. Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo. Spanish. This page seems to have been operated by the City Hall of Tututepec around 2004.
  14. Ayuntamiento de Tututepec. Facebook.com. Spanish. Retrieved 4 April 2016. The page seems to operated by the city hall of Tututepec.
  15. Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo, Juquila, Oaxaca. Facebook.com. Spanish. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  16. Tututepec Travel. Spanish. Retrieved September 2016. This is the official web page for tourist information for the County of Tututepec.