Going north on Mexico 57D we stopped for a few days in the beautiful city of Queretaro.
In Quéretaro we are staying at the same place we stayed in ’78. Some things don’t seem to change. But then we stayed in a hotel room, this time we are in their campground. We have full hook ups only 15amps but that runs one compressor for the air and that is plenty for here. It is about 10 miles north of Quéretaro and easy to find and get into. There is a Pemex and a restaurant with free Wi-fi. What more could we ask for. We love this town. It is cool and not humid, beautiful, clean, friendly and easy to drive in. The next morning we took the jeep and drove into the city. The first things we saw were: Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, Sam’s Club, Costco, Wal*Mart and McDonald’s. All together on Bernardo Quintana Blvd. After doing a little shopping at Costco we had lunch at McDonald’s. One thing about McDonald’s it tastes the same everywhere. After eating the day got better - we drove into the historical center of the Quéretaro. It is fabulous! It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1996. And no wonder. Buildings from the 1500 and 1600s are everywhere sitting on narrow cobblestone streets.
We drove around a little and luckily found a parking lot. So we parked and
walked and walked. There aren’t adjectives enough to describe this place.
Every corner we turned and every door we looked into was a new wow factor.
The colors are astonishing the architecture is incredible. From where we parked to the center of the historic district was about six blocks. As we walked across the first street I looked down it and there between a salmon colored building and a pink building was an Internet Café. Its blue sign hanging on the side of a white building. In the building on the corner was one room carpenters shop. The only light coming from the open door and a single naked bulb hanging from a wire. Inside was an old man working on a book case of some sort. He was doing everything by hand, no high tech tools. He cut the wood with a hand saw and made the decoration on the sides with a chisel. What we could see of some of the work he had sitting around - he did a very good job.
We continued on - another set of double doors were open, this was a school. Right inside the doors was a courtyard painted in deep blue and trimmed in orange. The bottom three feet of the walls were blue and white tiles. The back and one side wall were stone. In long side stone wall were several arches that were painted orange. At one time the roof must have been open as now it was covered in opaque plastic - this gave the whole area a glow. And we had only gone a half a block. The doors leading into the buildings were massive double doors with smaller doors cut into them. The side walk was about two feet wide made of rectangular cut stones. Some were so worn we really had to watch where we were going. We saw a couple of the old fountains that were built to provide the people with clean water from the aqueduct, they were still working. A couple of blocks down we could see two churches. One was built of massive stone blocks with spires that were a pale pink with rust trim. The other had red, white and green tiles on its spires and dome. Two nuns in full black habits were going into the pink one. Next to the pink one was what is now a college but used to be a monastery. It was all built in the early 1600s. We went in and walked around some. The inner court yard was two stories high. The first story had magnificent arches along all sides supporting the second story. The columns of the arches were carved and above each arch was more carving. Everything was so massive and yet intricately carved. Students were hurrying back and forth oblivious to the beauty around them. We continued walking towards the main plaza. Across the street was another church. This one had red, white and green tiles on it dome and spires. very block held a new wonder.
Every so often we would see a man or woman dressed in orange jump suits. They were emptying the trash containers and sweeping the streets and sidewalks.
There are several plazas with lots of grass and big trees throughout the area. Radiating out from them are narrow one-way streets busy with cars hurrying to their destinations. Also there are several pedestrian only streets of small stores. Portable kiosks line the middle of these walkways. Each building is a different bright color, some have iron work trim, most have carved stone around the doors and windows. Everywhere there are plants, palm trees, vibrant multicolored bougainvillea and laurel trees. Statues are scattered here and there at intersections and in the middle of plazas. We came across a Woolworth of Mexico - it even has a special parking lot! And the churches - just amazing. The church of Santa Clara built in 1633, the Cathedral of Quéretaro completed in 1805, the Church of San Francisco built in 1545 - the tiles for its dome were brought from Spain in 1540, and these are only a few of them. Surprisingly enough we could not get inside a couple of the churches. They were closed until later in the day or until Sunday. Also we are early starters, but these cities don't start opening up until afternoon.
One of our excursions into town I remembered to bring the guide book so we checked out a couple of mansions that have been converted into hotels. The Meson de Santa Rosa, right on the Plaza de Armas is known for its three courtyards. The first one has been made into a restaurant and filled with wrought iron tables and chairs and flowering plants. The second has an old trough lined with blue and white tile that was used to water the horses. The third has a gorgeous turquoise and white tiled pool surrounded by lacy iron tables and chairs. In all three the walls are painted deep rust and the floors are gray stone. The colors really set off all the plants. On a couple of walls are murals about three by five done in shades of blue on white ceramic tile. The other hotel is an 18th century mansion that was the residence of a wealthy family of royal blood. It is jaw dropping magnificent. The interior courtyard has Moorish style arches, the stairs leading to the second floor are all made of yellow and blue tiles. A wrought iron railing defines the second floor. The walls of the main room are painted in an intricate design. The carved stone surrounding the doors is amazing. Huge ferns hang from the balcony corners. Glass chandeliers sparkle in the sunlight. It is too incredible to describe. I will include some pictures.
Right across the street from this place is Woolworth Mexico. Another couple of blocks and we found the Cathedral of Quéretaro. A very imposing building. It is of a red cut stone with massive carved columns in front. It is a new building it was completed in 1805! I could go on and on but am running out of ways to say things. If ever you get a chance you must visit this beautiful city.
On Sunday we went back into the city. A very good idea as it turned out. The churches were open! And I had remembered to wear a skort and blouse with sleeves. I was surprised to see the way women dressed to go to church; no hats, tank tops, strapless tops and short, short skirts.
Guess I’m still thinking of 50 years ago. One church in particular we wanted to go into - The church of Santa Clara - on the outside it is fairly plain looking but inside it is to quote the guide book “wildly baroque.” Mass was just over as we arrived at the church. We went inside and just stopped dead in our tracks. It was unbelievable. Again to quote the guide book “the interior walls are covered with overflowing gilt retablos.” I have never seen so much carved wood in my life. And it is all covered with gold paint. The floors are black and white tile. The ceilings are painted with murals. Every square inch was decorated in some way.
After walking our feet off we stopped to eat lunch at one of the outdoor cafes in the Plaza de la Corregidora. Then walked back to the car. On the way we stopped to look in a restaurant and were admiring the paintings on the walls. Guess what? They were for sale. So I now have a painting to remember Quéretaro by
Our Next Trip South 2007
For more pictures of beautiful Quéretaro Click Here