A lesser-known Magical Town in the center of Mexico has risen to prominence as one of the country’s top cultural hotspots.
Defined by the Secretary of Tourism as a settlement that has helped shape the national identity and that is rich in both tradition and History, it is a promising destination yet to be discovered by tourists.
Mexico may be the go-to spot for a sunny break, home to pristine Caribbean and Pacific coastlines and packed with gorgeous clear-water beaches, but it is much more diverse than it normally gets credit for.
Beaches represent only a small fraction of a wider package, which comprises ancient cities, breathtaking nature, wellness centers, and so much more:
The Magical Town Nestled In The Heart Of Mexico
Located approximately a three-hour drive north of Mexico City, in the country’s geographical center, lies the quaint town of Tequisquiapan, one of 132 handpicked Pueblos Magicos, or Magical Towns, officially awarded this status by experts at Sectur (the Secretary of Tourism). Similarly to other towns in the same league, Tequisquiapan is famous for its colonial heritage:
Nestled in the Queretaro state, it features a perfectly-preserved Old Town, packed with heritage buildings dating back to the Spanish colonial period. In the most ancient core, a pink sandstone church towers above an arcaded, central square dedicated to the Catholic icon Santa Maria de la Asuncion. This gem was founded in the year 1716, and it’s the Pueblo’s most easily recognized landmark.
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Surrounding the arches in the plaza, there are craft shops, art galleries, and family-owned restaurants. Several narrow streets feed into it, flanked on both sides by two-story buildings and neoclassical facades painted in Mexico’s usual vivid colors. Walking towards the riverside, tourists will find a juniper-lined promenade and other scenic neighborhoods.
Folk art is a huge part of the reason why Tequisquiapan is such an inviting destination: a must-do activity is exploring a local market, where handcrafts and wooden carvings are sold. Additionally, all around town, and most notably in the oldest districts – Barrio de la Magdalena and San Juan – street vendors can be seen selling soft sweet breads, dried and crystallized fruit, and other locally-produced goodies.
If it’s nature they’re seeking, visitors are free to spend long, lazy hours basking under the sun in La Pila, a municipal park within walking distance of the central plaza containing fresh springs, cypress and ash trees. Strolling the recluse area, one can even marvel at the remains of an old water mill built in 1567 in the early years of the town’s establishment.
There are other parks to choose from, such as:
- El Porton,
- La Recamara
- El Salitrillo
A Beautiful Remnant Of Spain In The New World
Proving its cultural ties to the Spanish heartland are strong, Tequisquiapan has adopted bullfighting as a defining local custom. The town’s bullring, one of the oldest in Mexico, serves as a stage not only for combats but also for flamenco dance displays and concerts. The main attraction, bullfights, typically take place in March during the Bullfight Fair.
Although it’s been a Magical Town since 2012, Tequisquiapan has only recently started gaining traction now, as interest in ‘colonial tourism’ grows across Latin American countries. Travelers are flocking into these hidden gems, from Mexico’s own Spanish-influenced hinterland, in the geopolitical region’s far North, to Brazil’s 16th-century ports.
After all, these towns are not only extremely Instagrammable, what with their cobblestone-laden alleyways and colorful aesthetic, they are simply the best place for soaking up the culture and experiencing a country’s more authentic side, especially in Mexico, where overtourism has led to the gentrification and de-characterization of several popular sites.
A majority of these Pueblos Magicos, however, have kept their centuries-old tradition alive and ensured further growth and development have not been detrimental to the locals’ way of life, and the sleepy, incredibly charming Tequisquiapan is a textbook example of that.
The Perfect Day Trip Destination
Tequisquipan can either be visited as a day trip destination from Mexico City, one of the closest major urban centers with an international airport, or other cities like Guanajuato or Toluca. From Mexico City, there are daily buses leaving from Mexico Terminal Centro Norte headed to Tequisquipan roughly every two hours, with one-way tickets costing an average of USD$12.90 one-way.
More information about Tequisquipan and its points of interest can be found here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com