Christmas in Querétaro City

When I was a child, my family used to gather to celebrate Christmas.  These memories and those years evoke nostalgia for the past.

My Grandfather or “Abuelito Max” was still alive and he was the heart of my family.  Every year, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends all came to my grandparents’ house to celebrate Christmas.

My grandmother had eleven children and she was a Mexican master chef.  She had the ability to put together a meal for an army in a matter of minutes.  She was an amazing women.

On Christmas Eve or “Nochebuena,” We would eat turkey, tamales and atole, enchiladas and even mole – the best Mexican food.  All the grandchildren loved to eat the sweet jelly desserts and arroz con leche. Back then, everything seemed so simple and everyone seemed so happy.  I miss those days.

When you travel to Querétaro during this time of the year, you will find “El Jardin Zenea” (see earlier post,) beautified with colorful red poinsettias and a huge nativity scene decorates el Jardin.  This is one of the main attractions in downtown Querétaro.  As you walk around downtown, you’ll hear festive music almost everywhere.  There are many indoor and outdoor restaurants that will lure you in.  Enjoy!  Have a nice meal or drink while you rest your legs a bit.

Cold mornings and evenings will follow you around downtown and nice warm days will embrace you during the afternoons.

Undoubtedly, I miss to walk around downtown Querétaro around this time of the year.  I miss the food and living in an ongoing festive atmosphere where you can find a simple excuse to gather with friends or family and have a party just because it’s fun to celebrate.  I miss seeing the rain in downtown and the smell of clean rain and wet dirt  after the rain, but what I miss the most is seeing the shooting reflections of caramel color lights on the wet cobblestone streets.

I hope you all have enjoyed this journey through Querétaro.  I hope one day you’ll have the opportunity to visit this beautiful place – my hometown.

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Amealco, Querétaro

Located approximately 1 ½ hrs. south of Querétaro city is the town of Amealco.  The word “Amealco” came from the Náhuatl language, and it means “place of springs.”  Amealco was founded in 1538 and it’s one of the oldest towns in the state of Querétaro.In Amealco you will see, taste, touch, and feel what’s like to be in the soul and core of central México – indeed authentic.    Many narrow streets, one big church, colorful little houses, one big plaza (or main square) where people gather to talk about anything, where they go out for a walk, where they take their children to run and play and their elders breath some fresh air.

As you walk around town, one will find beautiful pottery, indigenous art and clothing.  As you continue your stroll around Amealco, the aroma of traditional fresh-baked sweet bread will entice you to get inside of a “panaderia” or bakery.

The weather in the town of Amealco is usually much cooler than the climate in the city of Querétaro because Amealco is situated near a forest.  Cold mornings and evenings will welcome you during your early or late visit.

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El Bothé – Amealco

El Cerro de Las Campanas, (The Hill of Bells)

One of the most significant historical sites in the city of Queretaro is El Cerro de las Campanas, or “The Hill of Bells.” At dawn on June 19, 1867, the execution of an emperor, Maximiliano de Habsburgo (Maximilian of Habsburg of Austria,) took place in this location and Five years of French intervention in Mexico came to an end.

When I was a child, my grandfather used to tell his grandchildren with joy stories about the foreign ruler and how the Mexican Republican army ended with the imposition of a foreign government. He also used to tell us that people named that hill “the Hill of Bells” because there were rocks that rang like a bell when hit by another rock. I can’t remember how many times I hit and smashed the huge rocks trying to find that special ring…

Presently, they are only a few rocks left on display at the hill, and yes, they have that special ring thanks to the copper and minerals found in these rocks.

El Cerro de las Campanas is considered a national park, and at the top of the hill you’ll see the city of Queretaro from many angles. Also, there is a chapel that was built in honor of Maximiliano de Habsburgo, and one can visit the hill’s museum to learn more about Queretaro’s history and culture.

El Mercado de la Cruz “the Market of the Cross”

El Mercado de la Cruz or “the Market of the Cross,” is located in the heart of Querétaro, and it’s the most popular market in the city.  When I was a child, every other Sunday, my mother used to take me and my siblings to el Mercado – It was fun.  I still remember so many people, seeing colors everywhere, smelling the delicious food aromas in the air, and eating my favorite treat- ice cream and shaved ice.

Earlier this year, when I had the opportunity to travel to Querétaro, I visited El Mercado de la Cruz.  It seemed as if time had stopped; many years after and the Mercado has not lost its essence.

At el Mercado or “market” you can buy fresh produce, meat, bread and cheese, vegetables, traditional Mexican food, traditional Mexican sweets and treats such as spiced “elotes” or roasted ears of corn.  You’ll find amazing “artesanias” or folk art.  The produce and items are sold at a moderate and low-cost prices.

Every Sunday, el Mercado is just vivid, colorful and alive.  Don’t miss the opportunity to visit El Mercado de la Cruz in Querétaro if you are interested in a unique cultural experience.

Querétaro’s Economy

The original inhabitants of the state of Querétaro in the country of México were the indigenous group “Otomi.” In the 15th century, the Otomi people created an economy based on agriculture, weaving and pottery. When the Spaniards arrived to Querétaro, they conquered the indigenous population. The city was then founded in 1531 and the economy of the state was sustained mainly by commerce and agriculture.

Today, the state of Querétaro is one of the fastest-growing economies in the country of México, and is one of the most important industrial cities in Latin America.  For the past 15 years, the economy has experienced tremendous growth and some major corporations such as: Bombardier Aerospace, (This is an airplane manufacturing facility in Querétaro), Kellogg’s, Samsung Electronics, Daewoo, Colgate-Palmolive, General Electric, Michelin, New Holland, ArvinMeritor, TRW Automotive, Sylvania, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Pilgrim’s Pride and Hitachi, have established their manufacturing operations facilities in the state. Querétaro’s economy is also supported by dairy farmers, agriculture, copper and mercury. Many in the Country of México migrate to Querétaro in search of decent work and wages.

Querétaro is one of the safest cities in México with a vigorous economy and a high-speed train will soon be built between México City and the industrial city of Querétaro. Let’s hope that progress and safety continues in the state of Quéretaro during this turbulent times in México.

Bernal, Querétaro – Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town.)

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The town of Bernal is another “Pueblo Mágico” or Magical Town in the state of Querétaro.  Bernal is located approximately two hours from Mexico City and only 40 minutes away from the city of Querétaro. The colorful and traditional pueblo of Bernal was founded in … Continue reading

Tequisquiapan, Quéretaro – Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town)

The town of Tequisquiapan is located in the state of Quéretaro in México, two hours away from México City and 50 minutes away from the city of Quéretaro.  El pueblo mágico or “magical town” is full of visitors and locals during the weekends.  People traveling by love to stop in this small town. The town feel is rustic, romantic and full of color and flavors.

The town of Tequisquiapan is well-known for producing cheese and wine.  Tours called “Route of Cheese and Wine” are offered to visitors to learn about the local wine, cheese production and organic production practices.  Visitors can take a peek at the cellars and vineyards.  You can go wine and cheese tasting and learn about the many farms in Tequisquiapan that produce artisan cheeses.  You will learn about the local cheese production process, and of course, you’ll savor a variety of Mexican cheeses.

Every year, during the month of May and approximately for an entire week, the Wine and Cheese Festival takes place in Tequisquiapan, Quéretaro.  Four years ago, I had the opportunity to be part of this “Feria” event, and it was over the top! Wine, food and music flowing everywhere.  People visiting wine workshops, tasting, visiting the nearby markets, and the renowned wineries of the area were proudly displaying their most praised products.  Countries like Australia, Spain, France and Italy also join the festival to put their wines on display.

If you visit Tequisquiapan, Quéretaro, here are a few more things you can do:

  1. Horseback tours, available on weekends only.
  2. Take an opal mine tour.
  3. Balloon rides: balloon rides begin at 6:30 a.m. and last about 45 minutes.

Visitors will find a wide variety of hotels for a night or for a weekend.  In the town you will find luxury hotels, budget hotels, and beautiful home rentals.

Although I can’t describe the beauty of this magical town in one blog post, I can tell you that for a small town, Tequisquiapan is definitely worth the visit.

Having fun with my family at La Feria del Queso y del Vino in Tequisquiapan, Querétaro.

Having fun with my family at La Feria Nacional del Queso y el Vino in Tequisquiapan,
Querétaro.

Hotel El Relox

My parents in Tequisquiapan 🙂

Tequisquiapan, Querétaro.

Hotel el Relox in Tequisquiapan, Querétaro.

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Map of Tequisquiapan.

El Mole Verde de Mama – A Culinary Jewel of Querétaro. (My green potion for happiness.) ~ CS57.11

A week ago, my mother and I decided to cook green mole sauce, or “mole verde” (the word mole comes from the indigenous language Nahuatl mōlli, “sauce”.)  Since I’ve been terrified to cook this legendary Mexican dish all by myself, I decided to take advantage of my mother’s culinary talents, to prepare the “mole verde”.

In México’s culture, mole is prepared as the main dish for weddings, baptisms, and all special occasions. People in the little and big pueblos as well as in the largest and most industrial cities in Mexico highly appreciate the dish.

The green mole recipe was originally created by indigenous groups, but when the Spaniards came to México, the mole or sauce adopted many ingredients from Spain, Europe and Africa.

Mole is known as a jewel dish in the Mexican culinary industry and its unique flavor is also recognized by the international culinary community as food worthy of the kings.

Between peeling off tomatillo husks, mixing up chilies, pumpkin seeds and spices, my mother and I remembered the days when she taught me the legendary family recipe. She would repeat each step, and I would carefully mix all the ingredients in the big pot – slowly mixing up the ingredients from a recipe that had been a part of our family for over 100 years. “The tradition won’t be lost,” I told my mother as we saw a green mole bubble bursting in the pot. I was determined to learn how to create this green magic potion – it acts like it on me because when I try it, it transforms me into the happiest being I can be.

Between good conversation and childhood memories we finished cooking the green mole – it was a success, because my mother gave her seal of approval. However; I am sorry to tell you that for now, my mom’s mole verde recipe is a family secret, but here is a link to a green mole recipe I found if you would like to try it: http://www.girlichef.com/2010/09/mole-verde-queretano-para-la.html

Enjoy! ~ CS57.11

Mole verde spices.            My green potion for happiness.

Mole verde spices.
My green potion for happiness.

Mom's delicious Mole

Mom’s delicious Mole

El Jardin Zenea – A Place to Coexist

Jardin Zenea

El Jardin Zenea (public square), is located in the heart of downtown Querétaro, surrounded by a historic church, a museum, a plaza and alleys or “callejones,” just to name a few historical attractions.

El Jardin designed during the Viceroyalty of New Spain (“Plaza Virreinal,”) was part of a former convent of San Francisco, and it was designed for and given to the public in 1874 as a place where people could “coexist”.

El Jardin Zenea seems to embrace anyone equally: families, friends, lovers, artists, young and old, rich and poor, mentally healthy and mentally ill. Ice cream, music, elotes (corn on the cob), mariachis and El Jardin takes on a life of its own.

The poor woman begging on a corner, the children running barefooted, visitors and locals stop here to take in the sights, a street performer playing a violin, the mariachis playing romantic songs to a young woman at the request of an enamored man, the city’s band, playing on a Sunday night at the bandstand or “kiosko” of the plaza for the people – the simple people that want to dance. The drunk like a skunk man that feeling the music smiles and starts dancing away – not a care in the world, so free, so happy. The abuelitas (grannies) chatting and seeing people and time passing by. People waiting for people to have fun, to chat, to live a little bit.

In El Jardin Zenea the poor and the rich stroll around, and they both sit on the same iron benches. Everyone can see the drunken happy man and the old woman begging in a corner, as well as the wealthy man or woman and the happy children running wild! Here everyone seems to acknowledge that they all breathe the same air for once – at least for a brief moment. People leave a little bit of themselves at El Jardin; every feeling floats around in this place…Happiness and sorrow and anything in between.  Maybe that’s why people keep going back – El Jardin it’s truly a place for everyone. ~ CS57.11


Querétaro’s Aqueduct – The City’s Icon – CS57.11

Querétaro’s aqueduct, is the city’s most notable icon.  The construction of the aqueduct started in 1726 and was finished in 1738.  In charge of the Aqueduct’s design was “El Marques” Don Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana, Marqués de la Villa del Villar del Águila.  Yes, he had a very long name. El Marques, inspired by the aqueducts of Segovia and Merida in Spain, used his economic and influential resources to build an aqueduct in Querétaro that would carry water from the nearby springs to the city.  By 1738 the water was distributed in the city’s main fountains.  The city did not have enough water for everyone back then – and water supply is still an issue today in the city. Civil engineers – masterminds, raised the structure to 23 meters or 75 feet tall, and 1,280 meters or 4200 feet long of aqueduct.  They used elemental surveying and civil engineering tools such as levers, lead weights and surveying equipment.  Amazing! The aqueduct is no longer used to supply water to the city, but it’s kept impeccable and stands up as a solid titan.  At night the 74 arches light up…As if they were watching over the city.  Although the aqueduct’s design seems very “masculine” to me, the “cantera” or large pink stone paving, gives the aqueduct the soul and an air of a beautiful woman…

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Queretaro’s Aqueduct Acueducto de Queretaro

Acueducto de Queretaro

Acueducto de Queretaro