Tuxtla Gutiérrez

In 1939 writer Graham Greene characterized Tuxtla Gutiérrez as "not a place for foreigners—the new ugly capital of Chiapas, without attractions." The accuracy of that bleak description is slowly fading, but most people still only pass through Tuxtla on their way to Oaxaca to the west or San Cristóbal de las Casas to the east. But the capital has what is probably Mexico's most innovative zoo. It's also close to the Cañón del Sumidero, making this a good base for exploring the area. There's also a lively, up-and-coming area around Poniente 15, filled with good restaurants and nightlife.

Tuxtla's first name derives from the Nahuatl word tochtlan, meaning "abundance of rabbits." Its second name honors Joaquín Miguel Gutiérrez, who fought for the state's independence from Spain and incorporation into the newly independent country of Mexico. The town became the state capital in 1892, taking the honor away from San Cristóbal.

To get your bearings, stay on Avenida Central, which becomes Boulevard Belisario Domínguez as it heads west.

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