Queretaro Tourist Attractions
How to get thereFrom Mexico City by rail about 5 hours; by bus approximately 2.5 hours; by car 225km/140mi on the MEX 57D.Querétaro, the capital of the state of the same name, lies surrounded by rounded mountain tops in a valley in the Mexican highlands at the foot of the Cerro de las Campanas ("Hill of the Bells").The town is known for its attractive houses, churches and squares dating from the Colonial period, and for its well-tended parks and fountains.
Although industry has recently settled in the surrounding area, the town centre has managed to preserve much of its tranquil character. In 1996 the town's monuments were granted world cultural heritage status by UNESCO.History The town was founded by the Otomí Indians long before Mexico was discovered. In the mid-15th c. it was taken by the Aztecs.The Spanish brought the area under their control between 1531 and 1570. They used it as their supply centre for the rich mines in Guanajuata and Zacatecas. In 1699 Querétaro was awarded civic status. Later Querétaro became historically significant above all other Mexican towns. This was where, in 1810, the conspiracy around Father Hidalgo began, which led to the War of Independence and ultimately to the independence of Mexico from Spain. In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war between the United States and Mexico, was signed in Querétaro. The last encounter between the troops of President Benito Juárez and those of the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian of Mexico was fought here in 1867. After Maximilian and his two generals Miramón and Mejía were captured and convicted they were shot on July 19th 1867 on the Cerro de las Campanas.Mexico's present constitution was drafted in Querétaro in 1917.
The townscape is particularly characterised by an aqueduct east of the city centre. Still functioning, the aqueduct was built between 1726 and 1738 on the orders of the Marqués de la Villa del Villar del Aguiler. This interesting construction is almost 9km/5.6mi long with 74 arches up to 29 m (95 ft) high.
South of the main square (Plaza Principal or Jardin Obregón) lies the old Convent of San Francisco, founded in the mid-16th c. A century later the church was renovated and subsequently the convent as well. It now houses the interesting Museo Regional, with works by the great artists of the Colonial period from the 17th to the 19th c., as well as a collection of historical weapons, documents and other items.
Teatro de la República
Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza de Armas)
The peaceful Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza de Armas) has retained its Colonial character.
Once the home of Marquesa de la Villa del Villar, this building was constructed in the 18th c. The home features two floors, a courtyard and a wooden door.
San Juan del Rio - Independence Square
This square is in the center of the town and features a column adorned by an eagle. The original eagle was destroyed by lightning in 1890 and was not replaced until 1981.
Construction of this church was halted in 1728 by Pedro Avalos y de la Cueva as the temple was to be used by the Spaniards. It is considered the main temple of the town.
A memorial to the architect of the aqueduct, the Marquis de la Villa del Villar del Aguila, stands in the middle of the plaza.
The Palacio de Gobierno or Casa de la Corregidora (Government Palace), an attractive building dating from 1770 with wrought-iron balconies, is situated on the Avenida 5 de Mayo and the Plaza de la Independencia. Here Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez, the wife of the mayor ("Corregidor"), warned the conspirators in the 1810 independence movement of the discovery of their plans, which led to the premature outbreak of the War of Independence.
Casa de Escala (Casa Municipal de la Cultura)
The Casa de Escala (Casa Municipal de la Cultura) also stands in the plaza. It is a beautiful building decorated with sculptures and wrought-iron balconies.
Convent of the Cross
Further east along the Avenida Venustiano Carranza past Casa de Escala is the Convento de la Cruz (Convent of the Cross). Its original 16th c. building was replaced by a Baroque one about a century later. In 1867 Emperor Maximilian established his headquarters in the convent and was later held here for a time after his capture. Note the tree with cross-shaped needles in the convent garden.
Capilla del Calvarito
The Capilla del Calvarito (mid-17th c.) lies opposite the Convento de la Cruz on the site where the Spanish are said to have celebrated their first Mass after conquering the settlement in 1531. According to legend, at the height of the battle the sky darkened to reveal both the Apostle Jacob on horseback and a shining cross - and the Spanish were victorious. The founding of the Convento de La Cruz dates back to this legend.
Going south-west from the main square along Avenida Francisco Madero in a south-westerly direction, the Hosteria de la Marquesa (mid-18th c.) is passed on the left and the church of San José de Allende (late 17th c.) on the right. The Fuente de Neptuno (Neptune Fountain), a Neo-Classical work by the sculptor Francisco Eduardo Tresguerras dating from 1797, stands in the small park on the corner of Madero and Allende.
Santo Domingo Church
Diagonally opposite the Augustinian Convent, on the Avenida Pino Suárez and Calle Guerrero Sur, can be seen the plain façade of the Santo Domingo Church (end 17th c.) and the Rosary Chapel, the work of Mariano de Las Casas and dating from 1760.
Adjoining San José de Allende is the church of Santa Clara, which once belonged to a powerful convent, has a simple 17th c. façade.In contrast the interior of the church is a particularly fine example of the Churrigueresque style of the 18th c. with lavishly carved and gilded retablos. Sculptures of apostles, saints, cherubs, flowers and other ornaments decorate the altarpiece. Especially remarkable is the intricately carved wooden choir screen with the figure of Christ in the middle and the painted draperies on each side. The wrought-iron grille above the sacristy doorway and the altar inlaid with silver and shells is impressive. The Av. Madero continues to the Plaza de Guerrero, the site of the Neo-Classical Palacio Municipal (Town Hall).
Palacio Federal (Agustinian Convent)
Near the Plaza de Guerrero, the Calle Allende Sur turns off left and leads to the Palacio Federal, a former Augustinian convent dating from the first half of the 18th c. This building, thought to have been designed by Ignacio Mariano de Las Casas, is one of the most attractive in the town. The tripartite Baroque façade with statues in the niches, and the magnificently carved arches and pillars in the cloister are a notable feature.
Opening hours: 6am-1pm, 5pm-8:30pm
Museum of Art of Querétaro
The Museo del Arte Querétaro, with its extensive collection of 16th and 17th c. Mexican and European paintings, can also be found in former church complex.
House of the Dogs
The Casa de los Perros (House of the Dogs), the former home of Mariano de Las Casas, stands near Calle Allende Sur 16. This small 18th c. palace owes its name to the gargoyles on the exterior and in the beautiful patio, decorated with an unusual fountain.
Santa Rosa de Viterbo
After Casa de los Perros on Calle Allende Sur 16 turn the next corner into Avenida General de Arteaga and follow this to the right to the Plaza Ignacio Mariano de Las Casas to reach the church of Santa Rosa de Viterbo, one of the most interesting churches in the town. Another of Ignacio Mariano de Las Casas' works, it was completed in 1752, but was later altered by Tresguerras. The two flying buttresses in the form of heavy volutes are striking. The clock is reputed to be the first repeating striking clock in America.InteriorThe retablos inside the church are richly decorated in the Churrigueresque style. The church also contains valuable paintings in the Colonial period. As in many churches belonging to convents there is a fine wrought-iron choir screen, behind which the nuns could take part in the Mass. Of note are the superbly carved confessional, the high Baroque organ and in the sacristy the life-sized statues of the twelve Apostles at the Last Supper; behind these is a painting by Tresguerras, covering the whole wall, which depicts St Rosa surrounded by her nuns.
Hill of the Bells
The Capilla de Maximiliano stands on the Cerro de las Campanas ("Hill of the Bells") on the western edge of the town. This chapel was endowed by the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph in memory of his brother, the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, who was executed on this spot. The enormous statue of his victorious opponent, the Mexican president Benito Juárez, towers over the chapel.
DIF State System - Family Integration Bureau
Currently housing the Family Integration Bureau this baroque house features a window with curtains carved of stone.
Other buildings in Querétaro worthy of mention include the 18th c. Cathedral of Felipe Neri, the 17th/18th c. church of El Carmen, the 18th c. church of San Antonio and the 17th/18th c. church of Santiago with its convent cloister lined with arcades and its Neo-Mudéjar portals. The Capuchin convent, dating from the early 18th c., was Emperor Maximilian's last place of confinement before he was shot. The Casa de la Marquésa (Casa de Cultura) dates from the first half of the 18th c. and possesses a highly-imaginative patio with Neo-Mudéjar elements.
The area around Querétaro is a centre of opal mining. Opals and other semi-precious stones, including topaz, aquamarine and amethyst, are mined here and sold in speciality shops.
Convento de la Santa Cruz
This church is set atop Sangremal Hill and offers a view of the city. In 1609 construction began on this church and the in the 17th c. it was home to the first missionary school in America, Colegio Apostólico de Propaganda Fide (Apostolic College for the Propagation of Faith).
Pantheon of Querétaro's Distinguished Personages
The pantheon holds the remains of the 1810 Corregidor Don Miguel Domínguez along with his wife Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. Statues of important figures from Querétaro are to be placed upon six empty pedestals that are spread throughout the pantheon.
Land for the park was given by private donors in 1790, seeding of trees commenced in 1793. The park received it's name in 1897 for the monument to Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
Don Bartolo's House
Currently the home of the Ministry of Education, this building was home to Don Bartolomé Sardanetta y Legaspi, the Marquis of Rayas. The Don was also known as Bartolo El Segoviano.
Episcopal Palace of Querétaro
Constructed in the 19th c. this building has shifted roles between government agencies numerous times. Currently, the building houses the Executive Office of the municipality.
Large House of the Five Courtyards
This building currently houses the Centro de Idiomas del Instituto de Cultura Mexicana (Mexican Culture Institute Language Center) of Universidad del Valle de México. The building was constructed in the 18th c.
Querétaro's Handicrafts Institute
The Handicrafts Institute is housed in an 18th c. building. Set up by the government, the institute helps to develop production and trade as well as secure cultural traditions.
Temple and Exconvent of San Felipe Neri
The façade of this building features both baroque and neoclassical elements. Construction began in 1786. In 1921 the temple was granted Cathedral status by Beneditco the XV.
This facility, opened in 1985, can house 41,673 people and houses events at the state, national, and international levels.
This building was constructed in the 18th c. and is currently home to a Cultural Center.
The Historical Archive is housed in a neoclassical building from the end of the 18th c.
Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez Auditorium
Opened in September 1985, this modern auditorium has the ability to be converted from a theater to a sports arena suitable for skating and gymnastic routines.
Opened in 1991 this park is at the north end of the city and is surrounded by a variety of recreation and sporting areas.
Santa Maria Bullfight Ring
Monument to La Corregidora
On September 13, 1910 this monument to Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez was erected.
Tenth Part House
Currently housing the Bureau of Income this building dates from the 18th c.
Map of Queretaro Attractions