(Allow one day to visit these two places) :
To the east,Tequisquiapan
This city of 55.000 inhabitants (2007) is famous for its hot
springs. It kept the image of the viceroy time. It was founded
in 1551 after a royal decree of Charles V. It is located at 1880
m (6168 feet) of altitude and it is a favorite place for the Chilangos
("inhabitants of the capital") because of the hot springs
and the climate. The prices go up on weekends. You can enjoy the
beautiful paved streets, with bougainvilleas and colorful old
houses, the serene plazas flanked with arches invaded by the Indian
craft market, the warm atmosphere of the restaurants, bars and
good tasting stores. Go to the market (open daily 10 AM-8 PM,
busier on Sundays) where you can buy wickerwork, wooden furniture
and cheap local craft. Visit the Parroquia de Santa Maria
de la Asunción on Plaza Hidalgo, built in 1874 with
a neoclassical façade with stone (cantera) columns. There
is a beautiful clock on the top.
At the entrance of the village, by the bus terminal, you can stroll
onto the "Parador Artesanal "on weekends (open
on Saturday 4AM-2PM and Sunday 9AM-2PM). You can buy produces
directly from local craftsmen.
There are many itineraries as well as hiking and mountain biking
trails starting from Tequisquiapan.
Take a bus to San Juan del Rio and another one to Tequisquiapan
(47 + 22 km or 29 +14 miles). If you are driving from Querétaro
or Mexico City, take the exit San
Juan del Rio and then, follow the signs to Tequisquiapan).
To the south : San
Juan del Río
This city of 242,000 inhabitants (2007) is famous for wickerwork,
wooden sculptures, furniture made of palm trees and semiprecious
stones, especially amethysts, opals and topaz. Also visit the
Museo de la Muerte, the Puente de la Historia
built in 1710/1711 and the Parroquia de San Juan Bautista
on the main plaza, wonderful example of the religious architecture
of the seventeenth century.
You can ride balloons from San Juan del Rio.
A fine hotel structure in Tequisquiapan and San Juan del Rio allows
a good stay in these two cities wherever you are coming from Mexico
City or you are ending the Tour of Las Misiónes
de la Sierra Gorda. Click to
http://www.tequis.info to log onto the website of the hotels
little further : Reserve of the Sierra Gorda
The Sierra Gorda is a mountain area of the Oriental Sierra Madre,
a mountain range that lies from South to North along the coast
of the Gulf of Mexico, from the northern part
of Coahuila, next to the border with the USA to the isthmus of
Tehuantepec which is the geographic mark of Central America.
A Presidential Decree dating from May 19, 1997 declared the Sierra
Gorda, a Biosphere Reserve in order to protect the exceptional
natural seabed and the ecosystems. It is located in the northern
part of the State and covers the communities of Jalpán
Serra, Arroyo Seco, Landa Matamoros, Pinal de Amoles and Peñamiller.
There are fourteen different ecosystems in this region of 383,567
hectares (1480 square miles), a remarkable feature for such a
The Sierra Gorda silently protects five temples that proudly represent
the fusion of two cultures : The "Franciscan Missions",
one of the two sites of the UNESCO World Heritage list in the
state of Querétaro. Take the Federal Highway #120 from
Río de del San Juan to Xilitla to get there.
Some specialists think that this Reserve is the richest of the
many Mexican Reserves, because of the ecological diversity. It
has belonged to the program 'Man and Biosphere” of UNESCO
since 2001 (called MAB).
The Sierra Gorda comprises
mountain ranges with magnificent valleys and gorges.
It is ONE paradise of luxuriant vegetation with landscapes formed
by canyons, rivers, falls, deserts, jungles and wild life; you
also have every possibility in practicing “alternative tourism".
Contact the Environment Group of the Sierra Gorda through the
company "Sierra Gorda Ecotours" which gives the visitors
the opportunity of staying in this nice protected natural region
There are about 1,718 kinds of vascular plants and 124 varieties
of mushrooms as well as 131 species of mammals, 363 birds, 72
reptiles and 23 amphibians. 30% of the night butterflies of the
national territory are there split up into 600 species.
You can see some remarkable fauna species : jaguar, temazate,
black bear, spider-monkey, otter, hocofaisán, cojolite,
mountain hen, guacamaya verde (military macaw), huasteco parrot,
tucán (hull toucan), tucaneta verde and crocodile. There
also are endemic species such as the real mole (Pappogeomys neglectus),
the Autochton siermadrior butterfly and many fish.
The first inhabitants arrived at the classical time. The Otomís
arrived from the south in 800 A.D and then, the chichimecas, pames
and jonaces settled there.
The Reserve is endangered because of the polluted water, the illegal
cut, the furtive game hunting, the forest fires, the extensive
cattle, the erosion and the constant changes of the use of the
You also can go trekking, canoeing/kayaking, mountain biking,
camping, fauna and flora watching and paragliding from el Sótano
del Barro (clay cave).
Here is an interesting document about the diversity and the continuity
of the North-American ecosystems :
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