It isn’t just that the beautiful colonial city of Santiago de
Queretaro is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that makes it
worth the trip. Clients have to come for the view particularly the
night view of the longest series of arches in the country that seem
to cross from one end of town to the other. During the day, the
aqueduct, built in 1726, is no less impressive in its march from
hilltop to hilltop. In use until 1970, the engineering marvel
remains an architectural symbol of the city.
Founded as Queretaro in 1531, the city was renamed “The Noble
and Loyal City of Santiago de Queretaro” in 1656 by the Duke of
Albuquerque, and the long-winded title was officially accepted by
King Philip V of Spain in 1712. Queretaro was home to Emperor
Maximilian as well as the scene of his execution by firing squad
after the defeat of the imperial forces.
Probably its greatest claim to fame, however, was during the
independence movement in 1810. Dona Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, wife
of the mayor of the town, has a statue in her honor for her part in
the revolution against the government which happened to be headed
by her own husband. Barricaded in her bedroom, the story goes that
she passed a note through the keyhole to a servant to warn the
leaders that their plots had been discovered.
Today, the town is so peaceful it’s hard to imagine it as the
center of a revolution. Queretaro’s Jardin Zenea is a favorite
gathering place with the oblong manicured park surrounded by the
cathedral, the regional museum and many cafes, restaurants and
boutiques. Nearby is the equally impressive Plaza de Armas fronted
by the baroque Casa de Ecala and the Casa de Corregidora. Visit
notable buildings such as the baroque/neo-classical San Felipe Neri
Cathedral, the colonial Casa de la Zacatecana or the historical
Temple and Ex-Convent of Santa Cruz, all pointed out on the hourly
tours that depart from downtown for about $2.50 per person.
This city is also home to university theater groups with
numerous performances offering an insight into the vibrant life of
the youth of the city. Cafes, restaurants and clubs with live music
keep downtown hopping, especially on weekends. Check out Qiu Disco,
El Telon or Zarabanda for dancing until dawn. Other local
activities are bullfighting, with two rings the popular Juriquilla
and the larger, more modern Santa Maria with seating for up to
13,000. Golf is growing in popularity as well, with six courses
near Queretaro itself.
It might seem hard to fathom coming all this way for stone, but
just outside of Queretaro is an area famous for carved stone and
marble. Monuments, garden ornaments, balustrades and more can be
found in nearby Escolastica where the streets are lined with stone.
The area of San Juan del Rio and La Trinidad are known for natural
opals of many colors, while throughout most of the state handiwork
includes painted earthenware, woven baskets and mats.
While Queretaro’s anniversary is celebrated July 23-30, another
holiday to watch for is the Wine and Cheese Festival, which takes
place each year at the end of May in the area of Cadereyta where
Freixenet maintains a local wine production. And clients visiting
during the first two weeks of December (Dec. 1-14) can take in the
International Fair, featuring cultural events, food and
Queretaro is a jumping-off point for numerous tours into the
surrounding mountains and countryside. Popular tours include the
previously mentioned San Juan del Rio, while the Tequisquiapan Hot
Springs are visited by locals as well as visitors. Don’t miss the
Botanic Gardens featuring varieties of cactus in Cadereyta, not far
from the wineries of Freixenet. For more time, take the tour of the
five missions of the Sierra Gorda for the impressive architecture
Whatever visitors choose to do in Queretaro, this region is
becoming one of Mexico’s most popular. Costs are reasonable and the
culture is sophisticated, while remaining still relatively
untouched by progress.
Air service to Queretaro is offered by Continental Airlines (daily
to Houston), Alma Click Airways (three flights daily to Monterrey,
two to Guadalajara) and Transportes Aeromar (three flights daily to
Monterrey and three to Mexico City).
Car Rentals: Avis, Budget, National and Alamo
all have offices here.
WHERE TO STAY
All hotels offer commission as well as special rates.
The 24-room Doña Urraca was converted from a
private estate into a sumptuous boutique hotel with a central
garden, pool, spa with Jacuzzi, gourmet restaurant and wine cellar
and meeting space. Close to downtown. Rates from $190.
La Casa de la Marquesa was built in 1756 as a
gift to a local Marquesa. Now 25 exceptional suites are available
all with wooden floors, feather beds, air-conditioning and Internet
service. Rates from $180. 442-212-0092
The Gran Hotel de Queretaro is located next to
the Jardin Zenea and the Plaza de la Constitucion, the hotel’s 50
rooms are comfortable and offer great views. Hotel amenities
include a gym, valet parking and continental breakfast. Rates from
The Hotel Quinta Santiago offers 30 tastefully
decorated rooms with air-conditioning, Internet access and more.
Rates from $119. 442-224-1985