The State of Morelos is said to be the “granary
for storing sugar” of Mexico
constructed a sugar cane plant and had black slaves come to farm
it. Four centuries later, the rebellion broke out with the war cry
Land and liberty». The memory of the agrarian revolution of
, for which he
dedicated his life, remained etched in his home province. In every
village, his portrait is now legendary : long whiskers, charro costume
and huge sombrero with a deep and sad look. This is one of the smallest
states in Mexico
with 4950 km2 and more than one
million of inhabitants.
If the capital of this state has little interest, the state itself
comprises some beautiful sites. 22 km north from Cuernavaca,
you reach Tepoztlán with a new road (take the bus from the
central market of Cuernavaca).
Nested in a corrie of volcanic high mountains, the scenic village
of 32 000 inhabitants is famous for the fairs and dances : the carnival
in February, the diverse celebrations during the Holy week, Fiesta
de San Pedro late June, Mary-Magdalene’s Day on July, and
the Fiesta del Tepozteco, celebrated on September 8
on the hill (cerro) of Tepozteco. It doesn’t remain
a lot from the empire of Moctezuma. In 1560, Dominican brothers
evicted from his temple the god and pulque and drunkenness and took
the stones to build the Convento de Nuestra Señora de
la Natividad converted in museum on the edge of the central
place of Tepoztlán. The church and this old monastery are
the only vestiges showing the intrusion of the outside world. You
could walk one hour to reach the vestiges of an Aztec pyramid, Tepozteco
(open daily 10AM-5PM, $41) with a beautiful panorama
on the mountain range of the National Park of Tepozteco. You could
also stop at the daily market of Tepoztlán especially on
Wednesday and Sunday.
Bus shuttles every 15 mn from Cuernavaca
(Terminal Estrella Roja) and around ten departures a day to Mexico
(Sur) with Pullman de Morelos or Cristóbal Colón.
Tepoztlán is part of the "magic
village" since 2010.
Website of the village :
parque nacional lagunas de Zempoala
Not far from Malinalco, 25 km north-west from
Cuernavaca, is the parque nacional
lagunas de Zempoala. The zigzag road leads to seven lakes spread
on the heights. It is a place of relaxation for the fans of camping,
hiking and fishing. From Cuernavaca,
take a bus of the company "Tres Estrellas del Norte" towards
Santiago and Toluca (Av. Morelos
- Terminal Estrella Blanca). They start every 30 min from 5AM to
7:30PM. Tell the driver that you want to stop at "la laguna
de Zempoala" (about MXN$20). It is a very good spot for hiking
in a gorgeous setting. Hike preferably with good weather.
If you like the old Franciscan, Dominican and Agustinian convents,
you’ll be spoiled with choice in this region. They have been
built soon after the Spanish Conquest. The first missionaries, in
the early sixteenth century, were aimed to evangelize the indigenous
people. Fourteen of them are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
You need about one day (preferably in car) to drive the road of
the convents. Some convents have a small entrance fee.
Going south from Tepoztlán, you can take the road of the
convents and stop first in Oaxtepec to visit the old Convento de
Santo Domingo dating from the sixteenth century. It is lined with
trees and ficus (for the amate, paper-bark painted by the Indians);
inside there are numerous paintings of Saints (closed on weekends);
Then, going towards Tlayacapan, you can visit the Convento de San
Juan Bautista (open daily 9AM-5PM) from the same century, whose
façade is adorned with small bells located in individual
niches. He chapel houses some paintings of Saints and the museum
displays some statues. The village of Tlayacapan is a village of
pottery : on weekends, the craftsmen set up in the streets to sell
their products to the tourists or the locales. We were seduced by
the dynamism of this village and the beauty of the potteries. In
this village, there are about fifteen chapels that you can visit
if you have time.
East from Tlayacapan, you’ll find the Convento of Totolapan,
sadly abandoned and 15 km further south, the Convento de Atlatlahuacán,
old Augustinian monastery surrounded by a vast crenellated courtyard.
The cloister and the adjacent church are adorned with many Saints
(open daily 8AM-7PM).
Another place worth the visit a little further south-east, close
to Yecapixtla, is the Convento de San Juan Bautista (open daily
6AM-7PM) with impressing walls. The city was an old slaves market.
10 km further east, in Ocuituco, the Agustinians founded their first
convent. Look at the beautiful fountain inside the cloister.
West of Cuautla and 45 km south-east from Cuernavaca,
you could visit the site of Xochicalco, inscribed in the World heritage
List; it is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a fortified
politic, religious and commercial center dating from the troubled
period of 650-900 that followed the fall of the great Mesoamerican
states such as Teotihuacán,
Tikal. Click to log on to the site of UNESCO :
The site consists of several pyramids built on diverse levels. Among
them, the big temple of the Feathered Serpent is an example of the
«talud-tablero » style. It comprises two massive platforms,
one on the top of the other, covered with decoration in relief representing
the feathered serpent flying as a bird and undulating as a serpent.
The bas-reliefs are among the most beautiful in this region of Mexico.
The mysterious vestiges have not still deliver the secret of their
origins. Some structures and some elements of garnishment suggest
a Toltec influence; other elements would prove a link with the Zapotec
civilization and other would indicate affinities with the Mayas,
meaning that the Mayas would have traveled far away from their Yucatan
These ruins are the most important in the state of Morelos. It was
a ceremonial center and a fortress. The complex comprises ball courts,
the Acrópolis, the place of the Stele of two glyphs, the
temazcal (steam bath), tunnels, veritable prowess of engineers,
and an observatory cave.
Only part of the ruins has been excavated and one can expect more
gems ! The Acrópolis, located at the highest point of the
hill, is an interesting network of rooms set on several levels that
housed the residential quarters.
Another masterwork : the place of the Stele of the two
glyphs, so called because of the sculpted in the center. The sculptures
are calendar glyphs representing the dates "10-reed" and
"eye of reptile". It is demarcated by three pyramids.
The stele, quite eroded today, was erected in a small altar between
two identical temples; the left one was used as point of sight :
the sun rises at every corner of the building at solstices and in
the center at equinoxes. From the end of the place, you could enjoy
a very beautiful view on the neighborhood of the Malinche and the
ball court, the valley and a small lake.
Located in a verdant setting in the mountains, the site of Xochicalco
(meaning « house of flowers » in Náhuatl language)
covers a surface of 1500M on a hill.
a bus from Cuernavaca to Xochicalco
(30 min). The departures are every 30 min from 6AM to 9:45PM. You
need to ask the driver to stop by the ruins. From there, take a
taxi towards the site (30MXN$) and stop first to the museum to buy
a ticket (open daily from 9AM to 6PM, MXN$57; you can’t buy
tickets after 5PM).
Allow 3 h for the visit of the museum and the site. A trail leads
to the site from the museum (about 15 min walking).
Everything is worth the visit : The observatory is a cave
with a narrow shaft where the sunlight passes through. Small groups
are allowed to get inside with a Spanish speaking guide. Between
mid-May and early august, the cave is completely lighted. Twice
a year, on May 14th and 15th and on July 28th and 29th the light
draws a hexagonal shape on the ground of the cave. (The sun passes
through its zenith at these dates and the Aztecs used it as a calendar).
You could attend a "sound and light" on Fridays and Saturdays
from 7PM to 9PM for $180, all year long. The seats are limited to
1500. Better get informed before going there. Log on to the site
or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When leaving the site, you can take a blue or green bus to Cuernavaca
at the crossing of the roads leading to the site and the museum.
It is a slow omnibus and the ride will last twice longer) but inexpensive
($25). It stops close at the market of Cuernavaca,
close to the Zócalo.
On the road between and Taxco, 30 km from Taxco
you could visit the Cacahuamilpa caverns, the biggest and the best
in the country. For more information, log on to the sites of the
protected natural places :
(777) 129 90 78 or (734) 346 17 16, email@example.com.
Bus directs from Mexico City, the
week-end 7:30am and 08:30am with the Autobus Pullman of Morelos
and at 3pm, 5pm, 7pm in the both ways, or from Taxco
with minibus from avenida de los Plateros every hour 26
pesos (destination "Grutas"), or by bus every 40 minutes
from Estrella Blanca Terminal (25 pesos) which stops at one kilometer
from the Caverns. Guided tours of two hours (62 pesos) among stalactites
and stalagmites within two kilometers of depth, between 10AM and
If you want to learn more about the History of the state and its
capital, log on to the site in English :
In October 1st, 1993, fourteen monasteries of early fifteenth century
have been inscribed UNESCO world Heritage List. There are monasteries
located on the mountainsides of the Popocatépetl. Click here
to log on to the site of UNESCO.
The Franciscans were the first to build monasteries
from 1525 in the municipalities of Cuernavaca,
Huejotzingo and Calpan (on the east mountainside of the volcano)
and Tochimilco (on the south mountainside 40 km from Puebla).
Then the Dominicans arrived three years later in the cities of Oaxtepec
(hey also built a hospital), Tepoztlán, Tetela del Volcan
Finally the Augustinians built in the cities of Ocuituco, Totolapán,
Yecapixtla, Atlatlauhcan, Zacualpan and Tlayacapan.
The landscape of the state of Morelos is sprinkled, not only with
old convents but also with haciendas converted in parks or hotels.
Here are some of them : in Yautepec, the hacienda of Cortés
dating from the sixteen century, Cocoyoc and Oacalco, the hacienda
San José Vista Hermosa (close to the Tequesquitengo Lake)
grandson lived, the hacienda Casasano in Cuautla and the one in
Ciudad d’Ayala, called Chinameca.
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