Monterrey Tourist Attractions
How to get thereFrom Mexico City by air 1.5-2 hours; by rail about 16 hours; by bus in approximately 12 hours.Monterrey, an industrial town, lies in Santa Catarina Valley and is dominated by the curiously-jagged Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Mountain, 1740 m (5711 ft)) and the Cerro de la Mitra (Mitre Mountain, 2380 m (7811 ft)). The capital of the state of Nuevo León, Monterrey is Mexico's third-largest town after Mexico City and Guadalajara and the country's second-largest industrial centre.
Although it has developed into a modern city the old-Spanish atmosphere can still be found in its narrow alleys, flat-roofed houses and picturesque patios. The climate is hot and dry in summer, damp and cold in winter. Monterrey is a totally Spanish town with no evidence of Indian influence.HistoryThe area around Monterrey has no pre-Columbian history; unfortunately, the nomads who roamed the region left little trace of themselves.The first Spaniards arrived here in 1584 under Luis Carvajal de la Cueva and established the outpost of Ojos de Santa Lucia against the Indians; it was not until eleven years later, however, that twelve Spanish families led by Diego de Montemayor finally settled here and called the place Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de Monterrey after the then viceroy the Count of Monterrey. The isolated settlement, which could only boast 258 inhabitants in 1775, often had to defend itself against attacks by the nomadic Indians. During the war between Mexico and the USA it was occupied by American troops in 1846 and again in 1864 during the War of Intervention by French troops. Not until 1882, when the rail link between Laredo and Monterrey was established, did the town experience an upswing which has continued undiminished ever since.In September 1988, as a result of Hurricane Gilbert which swept across the town, rainfall was so heavy that the Santa Catarina river burst its banks; the resulting floods carried away four fully-occupied buses in their wake. More than 200 people probably drowned at this time. The flooding also caused some damage to the town.EconomyThanks to its excellent communications Monterrey has become a major centre of heavy industry and it is also an important producer of consumer goods; its principal products include glass, cement, synthetic materials, and foodstuffs. In its Instituto Tecnológico Monterrey possesses one of the largest and best technological universities in Latin America.SightsAs Monterrey only became of particular importance one hundred years ago it offers little in the way of colonial art. Nevertheless, the lively town and its surroundings have attracted many tourists, mainly from the USA.
Plaza Cinco de Mayo
The Plaza Cinco de Mayo, with the statue of Benito Juárez in the middle, lies in the centre of the town and forms the northern section of the Gran Plaza. The sandstone Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) stands in the square. It is worth viewing the colonial patio and the fresco-decorated state apartments displaying a small historical exhibition, which includes the guns used by the firing squad which shot Emperor Maximilian and his generals in 1867. The modern Palacio Federal lies diagonally opposite. Its tower offers a fine view across the town and its surroundings.
Monterrey's Gran Plaza is a huge complex. Some of the key sights around here are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Monterrey Cathedral.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The grandiose Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO), designed by Ricardo Legorreta, was opened in 1991. It stands on Gran Plaza, Zuazo and Ocampo. As well as some excellent temporary exhibitions, there is a permanent exhibition of modern paintings.
La Purísima Church
The Calle Padre Mier ends on the hill called Cerro del Obispado or Chepe Vera which is crowned by the Obispado (Bishops' Palace). The palace, dating from the end of the 18th c., served later at different times as a fortress and a hospital. In 1913 the notorious bandit and revolutionary hero Francisco "Pancho" Villa took refuge here.
Address: Obispo Rafael José Verger, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 64060, Mexico
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $10.00
Today the Obispado houses the Museo Regional de Nuevo León (Regional Museum) which features exhibits relating to the economic and cultural development of the region. Of note is the chapel with its beautiful Churrigueresque façade and the printing press on which Pater Servando Teresa de Mier produced pamphlets in the Mexican War of Independence (1810-21) against Spanish rule, as well as two rifles with which Emperor Maximilian and his two generals were said to have been shot in Quertaro.
The modern Instituto Tecnológico (Technological University, known as "El Tec") contains an enormous library which possesses a large stock of books about 16th c. Mexican history, some in the Indian languages, and a comprehensive collection of various editions of Don Quixote. The library is decorated with a mural by Jorge Camarena.
Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Roble
Museo de Monterrey
Museo de Monterrey is housed in the old building in gardens, the main focus is a modern art collection of Latin American artists.
Address: Avenida Alfonsos Reyes 2202 Norte, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 64410, Mexico
Opening hours: 11am-7pm; Sun: 11am-9pm; Wed: 11am-9pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Pinacoteca de Nuevo León
This museum offers visitors a look at fine art from Nuevo León from the 19th c. onwards.
Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Profesional de México
Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Profesional de México is a baseball hall of fame featuring personal belongings from players as well as their stories.
Address: Alfonso Reyes 2202 Norte, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon 64442, Mexico
Opening hours: 9:30am-6pm; Sun: 10:30am-6pm; Sat: 10:30am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Mexican Constitution Day (Día de la Constititución) (Feb 5), Mexico - Benito Juárez Birthday (Mar 21), Mexico - Battle of Pueblo Day (May 5), Mexico National Day (Sep 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Mexican Revolution Day (Nov 20), Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Museum of Glass
The Glass Museum, opened in 1992, concentrates on depicting the history of glass.
Leave Monterrey southwards in the direction of the Club de Golf along Avenida Mesa Chipinque to reach the part of town called San Pedro Garza García. Here the Centro Cultural Alfa exhibits pre-Spanish finds, paintings by Mexican artists, folk art, shells and minerals. A planetarium built like an upturned cylinder offers insights into the world of astronomy.
Address: Avenida Roberto Gaza Sada 1000, Mexico
Opening hours: 3pm-9pm; Sun: 12pm-9pm; Closed: Mon
Always opened on: New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in MXN: Adult $60.00, Senior $50.00
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Cascadas Cola de Caballo
By following the MEX 85 in the direction of Ciudad Victoria southwards to the Villa de Santiago (36km/22mi), a turn-off is reached which leads to the Cascadas Cola de Caballo ("Horse Tail Falls"), an impressive 30 m (98 ft)-high waterfall, which is, however, often dried up.
Cañon de la Huasteca
Grutas de Garcia
The Grutas de García, one of the country's largest and most beautiful cave systems, is reached by following the MEX 40 for another 6km/4mi after Cañon de la Huasteca, then taking a right-hand turn and continuing for a further 24km/15mi. The entrance to the caves is reached by taking a cableway.
Map of Monterrey Attractions