The charm of Querétaro is due to its numerous small plazas
shadowed with laurels in the walking neighborhoods, to the many
magnificent historic buildings built with pink sandstone and to
its convents and churches which have been carefully restored and
housed, nowadays, official institutions. Many bridges get over
the Rio Querétaro which flows on the northwestern side
of the city.
1996, its historic center has been inscribed by the UNESCO on
the "Cultural World Heritage List", a distinction granted
only to sites of outstanding values and interest. Click http://whc.unesco.org
for the link with the UNESCO website which describes the
exceptional value of Querétaro. Querétaro gradually
became one of the urban jewels in Mexico. Officially,
the name of the city is Santiago de Querétaro.
Allow one day and a half to tour the city walking because
of the numerous interesting places to see. You can stroll in the
market of the artisans (Guerrero/Zaragoza) on early morning.
You can start your walking tour downtown in Plaza de Armas or
Place of Independence or even take the touristic train Tranvía
($70, daily 10AM-6PM, tickets available at the information booth).
Walking up the small streets to the Palace of the Governor (former
church, former prison), you will notice the beautiful gates of
the houses, the pastel color of the buildings accentuated by rose
or purple bougainvilleas.
Plaza de Armas is a pleasant place where you can enjoy the outdoor
restaurants and observe the statue of Marquis de la Villa de Villar
The Casa de la Corregidora, standing on the northern
side of the place, is more interesting for its historic role than
for its architecture. It is the former residence of the energetic
Corregidora and houses, nowadays, the Palacio de Gobierno
(open daily, 8AM-9PM except on Sundays, 8AM-3PM, free entrance).
Go to the far end of the first patio to discover, on the left,
a small courtyard holding the vestige of the watchtower of the
old royal prisons. The indoor courtyard is charming.
A few steps from Plaza de Armas, you can visit the Casa de la
Zacatecana, located at n° 59 Independence Street (open 11:00AM-7:00PM,
Tue-Sun, $20), converted into a Museum.
The history of the place is impressive since this house belongs
to the Zacatecana, who first had her husband killed and then,
killed the murderer. The two cadavers are still buried in the
stables of the house.
Actually, the museum has 12 rooms holding pieces of Lic. José
Antonio Origel Aguayo, a passionate collector of antiques. You
can admire the furniture, the paintings, the chandeliers and the
sculptures dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.
The dining room is made of engraved mahogany in a Italian Renaissance
style. The salon of the clocks holds 39 British, American, French
and German clocks dating from the seventeenth, eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. It is a good idea to visit this room around
noon. Log onto their website :
To the west of the plaza, the Casa de Ecala (eighteenth century)
is one of the most attractive and significant baroques buildings
: It was built in 1700; the baroque façade is richly decorated
with sculptures and Talavera tiles. It also has nice windows and
refined wrought iron balconies. It is open for the visit from
9 AM to 5 PM on week days. Anachronistic detail: the house bares
the bicephalous eagle of the Austrian House.....
In the southeastern corner, the patio of a colonial hotel (Mesón
de Santa Rosa) invites the tired walker for a break. It is
a former relay station where the silver and gold stocks of the
northern mines were kept.
To the west of Plaza de Armas, go on 5 de Mayo street and turn
right on Corregidora Avenue to Jardín Zenea. This pleasant
place is decorated with a fountain dedicated to Hébé,
goddess of Youth, and with a traditional kiosk. You can listen
to music and even dance at the sound of diverse bands.
At the east of the garden, San Francisco Church (open daily 9
AM-5 PM) is decorated with azulejos imported from Spain. Its foundation
walls date from 1540. It took its actual shape in 1698. In 1817,
it was converted into a hospital and ten years later, it became
property of the state. This house of God has been back to its
original function since the restoration in 1934. Nowadays, the
old convent, next door to the church, houses the Regional Museum
(open 10 AM-7 PM, Tue-Sun, $31, free on Sundays, Corregidora Sur
#3). You can see objects from the Pre-Hispanic time, discovered
in the city as well as furniture and paintings from the colonial
time, documents about the movement of Independence and the brief
period of domination of the Habsbourgs supported by France. You
can admire beautiful patios enhanced with colorful mosaics and
planted with mandarin trees, Look at the collection of paintings
dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Among them
are works of Juan Correa.
In front of the museum, take Madero Street and go to Allende Street
to discover the sumptuous Casa de la Marquesa, luxurious hotel
built by Marquis de la Villa del Villar del Águila for
his spouse. Enjoy the finely sculpted facade, with several balconies.
Indoors, enjoy the superb decoration of mudéjar style on
the gates, arches, chapel and mosaics. The grand gate and the
false arches surrounding the patio are worth the detour !
Up Allende Street, there is a small shaded plaza with Santa Clara
Church (open daily, 9 AM-7 PM) dating from the seventeenth century.
The inside is of churrigueresque style. The paintings and golden
altars are captivating. Admire the wrought iron gate, the pulpit
encrusted with silver and shells and the wonderful cupola of azulejos.
Look at the Fuente de Neptuno, sculpted by Eduardo Tresguerras
(1759-1833), the architect who decorated Santa Clara Church.
Not far from there, at the crossing of the streets Pino Suárez
and Allende, to the south, the church and cloister of San Agustian
unveil their baroque splendor. The cloister, finished in 1745,
was occupied by the troops of Juárez in 1867, and was then
converted into the Palacio Federal, headquarters of the state
government and now into the Museum of Art (open 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun,
$20, free on Tuesday; calle Allende sur # 14). The visit of the
cloister alone is worth the trip. Notice the expression of the
caryatides** in the cloister. This is one of the most beautiful
baroque cloisters in the country. Beautiful rooms (18), organized
around a patio completely sculpted, display paintings dating from
the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. The San Agustian Church
was built in 1731, with a dome made of blue tiles mosaic surrounded
by musician angels. The baroque facade, surmounted with a crucifix
in sculpted stone, looks like an altar piece with salomonique
columns defining des niches accommodating Saints statues.
** Womens figures used as columns by ancient architects to support
an entablature (example: the portico of the temple of Pandrosos
Go up the streets Allende and Madero and turn right on Ocampo
to reach the City Museum (Museo de la Ciudad - open 10AM-6PM,
Tue-Sun, $5), ex-convent of three Capuchin Nuns where Maximilian
de Habsbourg was jailed in 1867. By the side of the City Museum,
go and visit the Museo de la Restauración de la República
(open 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun, free entrance, calle Guerrero). This
museum has been set up after documents, photographs, books and
different objects illustrating the important events of the time
of Maximilian de Habsbourg
and Juárez were bought again. You are among strategic
places : the place of the capture and execution, the jail…
the end of the Imperialism in Mexico. In this new museum, there
is everything about the historic events: triumphs, failures, conservators
against liberals, and fights for ideas ... It is worth if you
are interested by this period of history. You can have a guide.
The museum has a bookstore and a library with many works about
this time, the Empire, the Restoration and the Republic times.
Keep walking on Hidalgo to go to the Teatro de la Republica (open
daily 9AM-5PM, corner of Juárez and Ángela Peralta)
located in the neighborhood : It was finished in 1845. It is famous
for its decor and very elegant lodges. It is there that the new
constitution was declared in 1917. There are many galleries, restaurants
and coffee shops in this neighborhood.
A little further from downtown, on Plazuela Mariano de las
, is Santa Rosa de Viterbo Church (open daily 9 AM-6
PM, corner Arteaga & E. Montes) as well as the adjacent cloister,
both founded by the Franciscans in 1752.
Outside the churches, you can observe two inverted painted flying
buttresses (theatric symbols) and bas-relief faces. These arches
are the exploit of architect Mariano de Las Casas
as Santa Clara, the church is completely covered with golden altar
pieces. The 18 or 24 carats gold make these altar pieces among
the richest in Mexico
Inside, you can appreciate a churrigueresque fan with the picture
of Santa Rosa, a notable throne of marquetry with ivory incrustations
and six altar pieces carved in golden wood. They were made by
Pedro de Rojas; they illustrate the life of San José on
the right and the Virgin of Guadalupe
on the left. The back chapel is separated from the nave with a
gate surmounted by a big shell decorated with medallions. The
sacristy is full of treasures : painted wooden statues of the
apostles and the Christ, (The chest of the Christ contains the
hosts), an octagonal table dating from the eighteenth century
encrusted with bones as well as remarkable paintings. There is
also an organ of German origin, dating from the eighteenth century
and still used today. The cloister is now reserved to the School
of Graphic Arts.
The Aqueduct, behind the church, is 1280 m (4224 feet) long and
was built by the Spaniards. Between 1726 and 1735, it was the
construction of the most surprising building in Querétaro
: The Aqueduct allowed the installation through the city of many
fountains and reservoirs that are part of the beauty of the city.
They were also there to supply Santa Cruz Church with water. The
imposing stone structure of 74 arches and 23 m (76 feet) high
was initiated by Marquis de la Villa del Villar del Águila.
It hasn’t been supplying the city with water since 1945.
You also can look at the place of the Founders (plaza de los
) which immortalizes the founders of Querétaro:
Juan Sánchez Alanis who drew the plans of the city, Nicolás
de San Luis Montañez, founder of Tequisquiapan
Fray Jacobo Daciano and Fernando de Tapia, alias "Conin",
On the back of the convent is the "Pantéon de
los Querétanos illustres", where is the Casa
Mausoleo, first place of sepulture of the Corregidora.
From the Mirador, you can see the Aqueduct called "Los
Arcos". It is a nice overall view of this aqueduct.
For the visitor passionated about churches, you can also visit
the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri (open daily 8AM-7 PM),
founded in 1755. The Cathedral, located on Avenues Francisco I.
Madero and Melchor Ocampo, represents the transition from Baroque
style to neoclassical style, showing the mix of the different
styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on the facade.
Note the relief columns, the pink cantera crowns and
the use of red volcanic rock (tezontle) on the gate.
Another religious building is worth the visit : The Templo de
la Congregación, (open daily 8 AM-7 PM) located on avenue
16 de Septiembre s/n. It is the second church built in the city
to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. On the cupola and the towers,
it displays earthenware tiles with colors of the national flag,
bringing out the stone carved niche of the Virgin on the façade.
Inside look at the organ and the picture of the Guadalupana painted
by Miguel Cabrera.
There are two interesting walking tours going to two opposite
sides of the city.
On the west, there is the Cerro de las Campañas
(open daily, 6AM-6PM, entrance fees : $2) : there are a colossal
statue of Benito Juárez
and a little expiatory chapel, memorial dedicated to Maximilian.
It was built there in 1901 by the Habsbourg, because Juárez
ordered on this very hill the execution of the Austrian Prince,
Emperor of Mexico. The hill was converted into
a manicured and flowered park : from the top, there is a beautiful
view of the city and the surroundings. The Museo "The Magia
del Pasado" on the hill is worth the visit with children
(open 10 AM-6 PM, Tue-Sun, $10). It is a museum about the history
On the northwest side of the city, there are the Church and Ex-Convento
de la Santa Cruz (open 9AM-2PM & 4-6PM, Tue Sat and 9AM-4:30PM
on Sunday), located on the hill where the Spaniards won a decisive
battle against the Otomís. The huge cloister which comprises
of many patios was the headquarters of Maximilian, then he was
jailed after his defeat and sentenced to death. In a cell, furniture
is the witness of this page of history. Look, above the main altar
of the church, at the original stone cross, given by the Spaniards
when they surrendered. You can visit part of the old annexes :
the cellar, kitchen, dining room and an orchard where grow trees
with cross shaped thorns. There are guided visits every 20 minutes.
Extract of Unesco site :
The old colonial town of Querétaro is unusual in having
retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side
by side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters. The Otomi,
the Tarasco, the Chichimeca and the Spanish lived together peacefully
in the town, which is notable for the many ornate civil and religious
Baroque monuments from its golden age in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property on the
basis of cultural criteria (ii) and (iv) considering that the
site is of outstanding universal value and an exceptional example
of a colonial town whose layout symbolizes its multi- ethnic population.
It is also endowed with a wealth of outstanding buildings, notably
from the 17th and 18th centuries.