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Published: April 7th 2019
Santiago de Queretaro
Santiago de Queretaro is a city which was important in Colonial times.
A Tour of Central Mexico
After we visited the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve we made a little tour of central Mexico. There are literally hundreds of places worth going to in Mexico. For obvious reasons we could only squeeze in a handful of those at best. Here comes a quick summary of where we went and what we saw there. Santiago de Queretaro
- Santiago de Queretaro
is a city which was important in colonial times. There are many similar cities in Mexico. Puebla, which I have written about before
, is one for example. These cities typically have a preserved historical city centre with beautiful buildings, churches palaces and squares. But Santiago de Queretaro has one additional feature - a very elegant aqueduct. There are at least two other cities in Mexico that can boast that they have an aqueduct so it is by no means unique.
When we read the guidebooks and looked online for places worth visiting we found two interesting sites near Santiago de Queretaro. They are called Mineral de Pozos and Rincon de Parangueo. These two places are a bit difficult to reach if you are restricted to only use public transport.
Santiago de Queretaro has a very elegant aqueduct.
Therefore, we decided to book a tour for a day. This tour was specially designed for my mother and me and it was only the two of us on it. The guide probably liked us because he made a third stop, one we hadn't asked for, that he threw in for free. That stop was in San Miguel de Allende
. Mineral de Pozos
- Mineral der Pozos is an old mining town that turned into a ghost town when the mine was closed. Today there are several dozens of buildings to see, all more or less in ruins, and it is also possible to take a tour into the old abandoned mines. We decided not to visit the subterranean attractions and limit ourselves to what there was to see above ground. Rincon de Parangueo
- Rincon de Parangueo is a site which is very popular among the locals in the nearby town Valle de Santiago but hardly known at all elsewhere. For the locals it is a picnic spot. On a popular weekend more than a thousand people gather there and have a good time together.
Our guide, who takes tourists on tours as a living,
Portico in Santiago de Queretaro
actually had never heard of this place himself. And still Rincon de Parangueo is less than 2 hours by car from Santiago de Queretaro. That's how little known it is for anyone not living in the town. Rincon de Parangueo is a crater, probably an old extinct volcano. The crater has a low rim and a large diameter so from the outside it is not obvious that it is a crater. You enter the crater through a few hundred meter long tunnel, a tunnel which actually is an old mine. When you come out of the tunnel you are inside the crater and you are met by a landscape that looks like something from another planet. The crater is all white and in the centre there is a small shallow lake. I can only guess what it is that makes the crater white. It is not salt, we tasted it and salt it wasn't. The other thing I can come up with is that the white substance is chalk. But I have never heard of any volcano that has a crater full of chalk so I guess I am wrong there. If you know what is was we saw in
Oh, that is a cute fountain...
the crater please write in the comments below and tell me. San Miguel de Allende
- San Miguel de Allende is one of many historical colonial cities in Mexico. Just like you might expect San Miguel de Allende has a well preserved historical city centre with beautiful buildings, churches palaces and squares. Ixmiquilpan
- We went to Ixmiquilpan
for two reasons. We wanted to see the unusual frescoes in the church San Miguel de Archangel and it is the only town from which there is public transport to Grutas Tolantongo. The frescoes are in pretty bad condition but they are interesting nevertheless. What makes them fascinating is that they do not contain any biblical scenes. Instead they show scenes from Aztec religion and other pre-Hispanic beliefs. From what I understand this is very unusual and it might even be totally unique. Grutas Tolantongo
- Grutas Tolantongo is best described as a spa resort. It is hidden in a valley in a mountainous region in the western part of central Mexico. There are several spectacular features in this resort. In one end there are two caves from which hundreds of litres of
Santiago de Queretaro
Important Colonial cities typically have a preserved historical city centre with beautiful buildings.
warm water flows each second. It is possible to enter both these caves. One of the caves is a large cavern where the warm water enters in form of a jet stream from an opening in the cave ceiling. The other cave is more of a tunnel and also here warm water flows from the cave's ceiling and walls. To be inside that cave is just like standing in a warm shower. When the water leaves the caves it flows into a river. This river is effectively a well over half a kilometre long spa pool with lukewarm water. To sit in the running water and just relax is so good that it can not be described. It has to be experienced.
It is good to know some details about how things work at Grutas Tolantongo before going there.
* As mentioned above, the only public transport to Grutas Tolantongo is from the town Ixmiquilpan.
* It is not possible to book accommodation in advance in Grutas Tolantongo. You have to show up and book a room on site.
* When all hotels are full the only way to get accommodation is to wait
Santiago de Queretaro
Street in Santiago de Queretaro
until lunchtime when they begin distributing the rooms that were vacated the same day.
* Grutas Tolantongo is a resort owned and run by local communities. You need to pay a fee each day you are in the resort. The fee is per day and is not included in the hotel room price. If you arrive at lunchtime, like we did, and leave at lunchtime the next day you have to pay the resort fee for two days in spite only staying there for less than 24 hours. Ciudad Hidalgo
- The stop in the city Ciudad Hidalgo
was an unscheduled one. When we travelled from The Monarch Butterfly Reserve to Santiago de Queretaro the bus trip was longer than we felt comfortable doing in one day. We had to break the trip in two and needed a place to stay for one night. We didn't deliberately choose Ciudad Hidalgo, it was just a good place to break the journey. We had no information about the city before we arrived and our guidebook had nothing to tell us either. We checked Google Maps and the Internet and learnt that there actually are some places worth visiting in
Small church in Santiago de Queretaro
the city centre. I took a walk in the morning and had a quick looked at a 16th century church with a former monastery next to it. From there I walked through the centre of the town to the town's bull fighting arena.
That was all I had to say here and now. By the way, did you think there were many photos of porticos in this blog entry? Then you should see how many I actually removed...
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