The historic center of Oaxaca, a city founded in 1532, is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved in all of Mexico. The harmonious grid layout is a superb example of Spanish colonial town planning. Named a World Heritage Site in 1987, Oaxaca has around 1200 historical monuments reflecting the city´s evolution from the 16th to the early 20th century. It has major religious buildings like the Metropolitan Cathedral, dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Asunción; the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad; the former Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, housing the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures, the Ethnobotanical Garden and the Library of Friar Francisco de Burgoa; the Church of San Felipe Neri; the Church of San Juan de Dios, and the former Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena, the second monastery in New Spain. Other monuments include the Church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and its important collection of religious art; the Church of La Merced; the Church and former Covent of El Carmen Alto; the Church of the Preciosa Sangre de Cristo, and the Church of San Cosme y Damián.
Oaxaca also has many cultural centers: such as the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, the Macedonio Alcalá Theater, the Rufino Tamaño Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, the original home of Benito Juárez, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACO), and the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca (IAGO).