Convent Route from Pachuca to Huejutla
A number of interesting 16th c. sacral buildings belonging to the Augustinian order are situated along this stretch (MEX 105), which is characterised by a very richly-varied landscape of mountains, ravines and fertile valleys.
Atotonilco el Grande, Mexico
From Pachuca it is 34km/21mi on the MEX 105 to Atotonilco el Grande (Náhuatl: "Place of the Hot Waters"; 2138 m (7017 ft); population 20,000; market day Thursday) where a mid-16th c. Augustinian convent is situated. The church's Renaissance façade has only been partly preserved and has Plateresque elements with medallions of St Peter and St Paul. The long nave has a very lofty groined vault and the remains of frescos. Murals depicting the great philosophers of antiquity can be seen on the convent staircase.
After a further 31km/19mi on MEX 105 from Atotonilco el Grande a turning to the left leads to Metztitlán (Náhuatl: "Place of the Moon"; 1600 m (5251 ft); population 20,000) 22km/14mi away. This was the capital of the like-named independent territory of the Otomí which the Aztecs were never able to subjugate. The 16th c. Augustinian convent has a large atrium with a stone cross, two open chapels and a posa. The plain Renaissance façade of the church has Plateresque features. In the cloister can be seen frescos dating from the 16th c. and later. There is a marvellous view of the valley from the convent ruins.
Returning to the main road from Metztitlán and continuing northwards the village of Metzquititlán is reached after 10km/6mi. The 16th c. Augustinian Church of the Seäor de la Salud has a beautiful Indian-Plateresque doorway in the style of Tequitqui stonemason's art.
Santa Maria Xoxoteco
From Metzquititlán a secondary road leads to San Nicolás. After 2.5km/1.6mi a path turns off left across a small river and through fields to Santa María Xoxoteco. In 1974 extremely impressive 16th c. frescos were found in the church. They depict religious themes in a rather morbid interpretation, in the style of the frescos of Actopan.
A road turns off right from the MEX 105 17km/10.5mi north of Metzquititlán to Tlahualompa some 9km/5.6mi away. This is a centre of bellfounding and the work can sometimes be watched here. The Indians living in the area sell copperware. The land between Tlahualompa and the road is rich in obsidian.
Returning on the MEX 105 from Tlahualompa it is 6km/4mi to Zacualtipán (2020 m (6630 ft); population 30,000) where a 16th c. Augustinian convent and a church with an Indian-Plateresque façade can be visited.
The next interesting place after Zacualtipán is Molango (1650 m (5415 ft); population 12,000), charmingly situated some 39km/24mi away and named after the old-Indian god Mola. The convent was founded in 1546 and built on a pre-Columbian cult site. It has an unusual Spanish- Plateresque church façade with a beautifully-made Gothic rose window. Note the rare carved inner side (Alféizar) of the entrance pilasters. The partly-ruined cloister has an impressive harmony.Remarkable in Molango is the Espadaña, a lengthening of the atrium wall in place of a bell tower.Laguna Atezca, 6km/4mi away, offers opportunities for water-sport.
Huejutla de Reyes, Mexico
The last notable town on this route through the state of Hidalgo is Huejutla de Reyes (population 80,000; fiestas: November 2nd, Dia de los Fieles Difuntos, December 12th, Dia de la Virgen de Guadelupe; Sunday market), approximately 95km/59mi from Molango. This Huastec town also possesses a mid-16th c. Augustinian convent. Its church has a renovated Plateresque façade and contains a stone font with stylised plant ornamentation. The location of the atrium in the town square is very unusual. Huejutla is also famous for its pottery.From Huejutla the MEX 105 crosses the state of Veracruz to the port of Tampico approximately 165km/103mi away.