Aguascalientes was founded in 1575. // © 2014 Shutterstock/Mislik
A city rich in Mexican history and tradition, Aguascalientes is home to flourishing vineyards, a history of bullfighting and the country’s largest music and arts festival.
Founded in 1575, the colonial city of Aguascalientes originally served as a Spanish outpost for merchants who traveled along the Silver Route. Named after its abundant mineral hot springs set against a backdrop of diverse architecture, Aguascalientes offers guests many things to do and see while visiting. From wine tasting amidst historic haciendas and relaxing in a secret oasis to the world famous San Marcos Fair, Aguascalientes is the ideal destination for those looking to celebrate Old World charm and culture.
One of the city’s early 20th-century neoclassical buildings, the Aguascalientes Museum, offers a lesson in Mexican social history through its extensive collection of paintings and sculptures. It features the works of many artists from the last century, including Diego Rivera-protege Saturnino Herran — whose vivid images depict 20th-century customs and daily life in Mexico — as well as the abstract work of brothers Pedro and Rafael Coronel.
Baths of Ojo Caliente
Since the mid-19th century, the ancient Baths of Ojo Caliente have provided a relaxing retreat for those who enter the French-influenced neoclassical building. Long corridors held up by stone pillars surround multiple swimming and splashing pools of different sizes, as well as individual baths, and the waters are rumored to have healing properties. The baths are open year-round, although reservations are required.
Hacienda de Letras
A favorite among locals and visitors, this sprawling 110-acre vineyard is located in the quaint town of San Luis de Letras, 10 miles north of Aguascalientes. Go on a guided tour of the tanks area and watch the winemaking process in action, then indulge in a tasting session that features samples of the different labels that are produced here, including chardonnay, syrah, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.
Plaza de la Patria
The centerpiece of Aguascalientes, this plaza serves as the main hub for the city’s civic buildings. An Ionic column dating back to 1808 stands in the middle of the plaza, originally erected in honor of King Carlos IV of Spain. Other noteworthy buildings that are located just a stone’s throw away
include the city cathedral, built in the impressive Baroque style with a stunning altar; the Government Palace, which is the only 17th-century building that still exists in the city; and the 19th-century neoclassical Morelos Theater, which regularly hosts a variety of performances.
San Marcos Fair
Also known as Mexico’s Fair, the San Marcos Fair has been held since 1828 and spans 23 days, taking place during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May. Hundreds of mariachi musicians and decorated dancers parade down the streets alongside giant floats, while local vendors serve up tostadas, churros, horchata and other staples of Mexican culinary culture. Seasoned matadors entertain the crowd at the Monumental Bullring, while the Municipal Theater features all-day concerts with a series of renowned musical acts, in addition to rodeo-style shows. Participate in the various arts, crafts and other activities while strolling through the San Marcos Garden, then venture off into the neighboring barrios that house a mixture of religious, neoclassical and Baroque architecture.