Santiago de Queretaro, or just Queretaro as it’s known, is a colonial city steeped in Mexican history. The Spanish took control of the city in 1531 and designated it the “third city of New Spain”. It was here where the fathers of Mexico’s Independence Movement met in secret to discuss the overthrow of their Spanish rulers.
Installed by the French in 1864, Emperor Maximilian surrendered here three years later in 1867 after a 100-day siege. He was subsequently executed by firing squad, on an order handed down by Benito Juarez.
Queretaro combines the past with the present, creating an incomparable mixture of history, culture, and tradition. The cobblestone streets of the historic center and the numerous temples and plazas contrast with the modern highways that give access to the city.
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The Convent of the Holy Cross was erected on Sangremal Hill, which means ”bad blood.” Some 30 seminarians still study in the dark, austere cloisters. Stone and stucco interior patios are sparsely adorned with statues of the convent’s founding priests, and one is filled with what looked like an overgrown tumbleweed. The bush, cultivated by the convent’s first priests, grows thorns like a cross. The convent housed the first missionary college in the Americas and later became a fortress for the retreating Spanish army. Maximilian was jailed there until his execution.
The Historic Center of Queretaro is remarkable in maintaining the old colonial architecture and street plan alongside the twisting alleys of Indian quarters. All this history is peppered with modern hotels, shops, and restaurants. The Otomi, the Tarasco, the Chichimeca, and the Spanish settlers lived together harmoniously in the town, which stands out for the many ornate civil and religious Baroque monuments from its golden age in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Queretaro AqueductIts construction was the most important urban work of the eighteenth century. It was made possible by the economic contribution of Don Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana, Marques de la Villa del Villar del Aguila, who found a way to channel water to the city of Santiago de Querétaro.
At the time, supplying the vital liquid was one of the city’s most serious problems. Legend has it that Marques offered it as proof of love for a nun named Sister Marcela Nasturtium. The 74 pink stone arches measure 1,280 m in length and their height reaches 23 m.
House of the Corregidora. This palatial mansion, whose construction was completed in 1770, was the scene of some very important historical events. After the city’s founding, the mansion hosted the royal houses, a jail, and then later the residence of her Ladyship, Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, who from this place managed to tell the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla that the conspiracy had been discovered.
Cerro de las Campanas (Hill of the Bells) has great historical importance because it was the scene of the struggle between the Republic and the Empire. Austrian Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg, Emperor of Mexico appointed by the Conservatives, was shot here by General Miguel Miramon and Tomas Mejia. This began the period known as the Restoration of the Republic.
Now the mountain has become a beautiful National Park with extensive green areas, playgrounds, an artificial lake, a theater, and a small museum called The Magic of the Past.
Peña de Bernal With 350 meters (1,148 ft) high, 4’000,000 tons, and 10’000,000 years old; this monolith, located in the Sierra Gorda of Queretaro, is considered the world’s third-largest, after the Gibraltar Rock in Spain and the Sugar Bread in Brazil.
At the foot of the rock, we will find Villa de Bernal, a Magical Town with beautiful portals, cobblestone streets with an irregular layout, taverns, restaurants, handicrafts, traditional food stands, museums, and colorful houses.
In this picturesque little town, craftsmen create wool blankets and ponchos used as protection against the wind coming from the Sierra Mountains; and on the streets, visitors will find quince, guava, and peanut candy.
Lost in time, San Sebastian Bernal is the little town that has been called “magic” for the beauty of its buildings and its colors. The word “Bernal” is Arabic for “crag”, in reference to the peak found in this town.
If you walk along these charming little cobblestone streets, you can’t help but fall in love with this place, which feels like it’s from another time. It is home to unique handicrafts and 18th Century buildings. The landscape is filled with symbols, legends, history, and beauty. In September 2006, the Mexican Department of Tourism named it “Pueblo Magico” (Magic Town).
Queretaro…Cheese and Wine.
Be amazed as you explore the vineyards in the semi-desert of the state of Queretaro where, although it might seem impossible for vines to grow due to the conditions of the land, you’ll be astounded to find that this is indeed possible as you visit the area.
This route is a delight to the palate and the senses, you will taste and savor the fine wine and delicious Mexican goat cheese, cow, and sheep worldwide fame.
Carretera Oriente 46
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