Mexico        Rêve Mexicain en français
Cuernavaca : capital
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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How to pronounce this Aztec name of Cuauhnáhuac meaning « place by the woods»? The Spaniards converted the name in Cuernavaca by phonic convenience without worrying about calling cow’s horn a so distinguished vacation resort.
An 80km-highway connects this city to the university city of the Capital; there were 100 000 inhabitants in the sixties, 788 000 inhabitants (stats 2006) during the week, a lot more on weekends ! There are many cars on the roads on weekends because the inhabitants of the Capital of Mexico, the capitalïnos look for fresh air and calm.
view on the roofs of Cuernavaca Cuernavaca, capital of the State of Morelos, has alway attracted the middle class. The road passes through beautiful landscapes and ends in Acapulco. The city hosts many language schools welcoming students from all over the world to learn Spanish.

     Right picture : view on the roofs of Cuernavaca

The emperor Moctezuma and his court already tasted the delights of an ideal climate in this valley where bougainvillea, jacarandas and tamarinds burst their bright notes in the greenery.
City of the eternal spring (mild weather all year long; 23° C), old residence of the Aztec emperors, then Cortés, it becomes again, under the Porfiriato, in the late nineteenth century, the vacation resort for rich Mexicans from Mexico City.
center of Cuernavaca

In the post war years, the city welcomes artists : Aldous Huxley, Leonora Carlington, Benjamin Perret, Edward James, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, but also famous intellectuals like Erich Fromm, Ivan lllich or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, lived there while in exile.

      Above picture: center of Cuernavaca

Several canyons, called barrancas, crossed the city from North to South. This city doesn’t have a lot of imposing monuments but you could spend two days, preferably from Tuesday to Friday : on Mondays, the museums are closed and on weekends it is really busy. The city keeps from the Conquistador a personal monument, the palace of Cortés, converted in museum since 1974 (Museo Cuauhnáhuac open 9AM-6PM Tue-Sun, $41). This museum gives a brief insight of the history of Mexico. The palace has been built over an Aztec pyramid. Inside there are, among others, frescos of Diego Rivera, which, far from glorifying Cortés and the Conquest, denounce the destruction of the Aztec cities and the exploitation of Indians by Spaniards. From the pleasant portico, the view of the Popocatépetl is magnificent if the sky is clear. Cortès ordered the construction in 1530; from there he supervised his vast properties given by the Spanish Crown.
Cuauhnáhuac museum Because of these canyons, it is difficult to move from east to west in this city but the canyon is an opportunity for a beautiful little hike in the middle of the city. The trail head is close to the Calvario, north of the city.
East of the river, stop by the covered market, very busy every day. It is located close to the bus terminal, which enables easy transportation of the goods sold wholesale in the vicinity.

     Right picture : Cuauhnáhuac museum

You could visit the Zócalo (officially called garden Juárez), and another bigger place, the garden of the Heroes. The palace of government is on the east side of the Zócalo. This garden Juárez is as pleasant as the garden of the Heroes is hideous on an aesthetic view. In the music kiosk, the city band resonates on Thursday evening and Sunday morning. Just beside, you can buy delicious fruit juice all day.

Four blocks west further, the cathedral and the gardens of La Borda are worth the visit. The gardens, very pleasant on a hot day, were laid out in late eighteenth century by French Joseph de la Borde. He came to Mexico in 1716 and changed his name to José de la Borda. This famous wealthy silver mine owner of Taxco gave his name to the gardens. Since he lived only the last two years of his life in Cuernavaca, his son, Manuel, priest passionate about botanic, is the one who enhanced this garden posted with basins and fountains.


gardens of Borda

     Right picture : gardens of Borda

Local bands play some days during the week (get information at the visitor center). You can visit the house of Borda dating from the eighteenth century (Tue-Sun 10AM-5:30PM, $30, free on Sundays).

cathedral of Cuernavaca
Facing these gardens, the Cathedral (Catedral de la Asunción de Maria), whose construction was ordered in1529 by Cortés himself, is one of the first churches in Mexico. On the right, stepping in the courtyard, a chapel offered to the “Third Order” (Templo de la tercera orden), example of Mexican baroque architecture, is adorned with a beautiful altar piece. You can also visit the Capilla del carmen (nineteenth century) and the Capilla abierta (the open chapel). From the top of the bell-tower, the view is gorgeous.

temple of the third order

Left picture : cathedral of Cuernavaca

Right picture : temple of the third order


A visit really worth it : the Museum Robert Brady (north-American painter 1928-1986), open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 6PM, for only $30. This personal collection remained as it was since his death. You could find some ideas of inside décor. The kitchen is a gem. He was buried in his garden with his dog. For the link with the site of the museum, click here.

Map of Morelos state :

Map of the city :

          Below : inside pictures

inside pictures inside pictures

East of the station, a ruin in the heart of the city exempts of excursion. The double pyramid of Teopanzolco, called « revolutionary pyramid », because of the circumstances of its discovery. (Open 9AM-4:30PM, $37). This happened in 1910, when the rebels of Emiliano Zapata were fighting the federal troops. The Zapatistas had set the artillery on what they thought is a hillock and the shaking of the cannons revealed them the inside of the pyramid or, rather the pyramids since there was one on the top of the other. The biggest one would have been built by the Tlahuicans. They had this Indian custom telling that, in case of victory, they should build a sanctuary to honor the gods on the top of the sanctuary of the defeated.

Emiliano Zapata launched his powerful peasant offensive from this State. He had picked the village of Tlaltizapan to establish the headquarters of the Liberating Army of the South. He fought during ten years reclaiming the land to the ones who farm it. In April 1919, Zapata and his army were arrested and killed in an ambush close to the hacienda of San Juan Chinameca (close to Cuautla). This is the reason of the equestrian statue at the entrance of the hacienda.

Matamoros street at Cuernavaca

If you don’t want to walk the whole tour, you can use the Tren Turistico. It starts from the Palace of Cortes the every 45 min from 11:15AM, from Monday to Friday and every 20 min on weekends and holidays (MXN$40). Tourist Information : (777) 317 04 21 / 138 60 45.

Left picture : Matamoros street at Cuernavaca



If you want to learn more about the History of the state and its capital, log on to the site in English : 

view from Xochicalco (Temazcal)
     Left picture : garden of the Brady museum

     Right picture : view from Xochicalco
(Temazcal)garden of the Brady museum











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