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Querétaro : capital
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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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.

view on QuerétaroIn 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.

Left picture : view on 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).

the casa de la corregidora 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 del Águila.

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.

     Right picture : the casa de la corregidora

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 : www.museolazacatecana.com.

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.
church of San Francisco by night

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 !

Left picture : church of San Francisco by night

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.


Views of Santa Clara Church, the Municipal Palace and Guerrero Garden 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.

     Right picture : Views of Santa Clara Church, the Municipal Palace      and Guerrero Garden

** Womens figures used as columns by ancient architects to support an entablature (example: the portico of the temple of Pandrosos in Athens).

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 Casas, 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. Such 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 Fundadores) 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", indigenous Chief.

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.

templo de la congregación 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.

     Right picture : templo de la congregación

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 of Querétaro.

Church and ex-convent of Santa Cruz
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.

Left picture : Church and ex-convent of Santa Cruz






Extract of Unesco site :
church and San Augustin cloister 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.

     Right picture : church and San Augustin cloister

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.



Map of Querétaro state :

Map of Querétaro city :


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