Regions and States

Queretaro crestThe state of Querétaro is part of the Central Highlands Region of Mexico, along with the states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico (State of), Mexico City, Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala. Its capital city  is also named Querétaro. Its immaculately preserved colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While the state of Querétaro is one of the smallest in Mexico, it is also one of the most diverse in terms of its scenery, economy and ethnic groups. Its economy has grown rapidly in the past fifty years and the state has become well known for its cluster of more than 200 firms in the aerospace sector. Technology firms have also been attracted by the state’s central location, proximity to Mexico City, easy access to other major cities (including Guadalajara and Monterrey), excellent transport links and well-educated workforce.

The state has numerous historical buildings, museums,  former haciendas (some of them converted to boutique hotels) and religious missions. It also has several large spa towns, the best known of which is Tequisquiapan, where many wealthy Mexico City residents maintain second homes.

The much smaller “Magic Town” of Bernal, situated at the foot of a giant monolith, is the gathering place on the Spring Equinox of visitors celebrating the arrival of Spring and seeking a renewal of energy.

Here are select articles and recipes related to Querétaro:


Viñedos Aztecas © 2021 Jane Simon Ammeson

Sampling fine wines on the Querétaro Wine Trail

In a land of smokey mezcals, rompopes, single-distilled raicillas, cervezas, tequilas, and Kahlua—that thick, sweet coffee liqueur made in Veracruz whose name in Nahuatl means the house of the Acolhua people—wine would seem to scarcely merit a mention. But in the 30 miles stretching between San Juan del Río and Bernal, known as the Querétaro […]

Beautiful paths through the gardens. Photo: Edythe Anstey Hanen

Preserving the Past: The Cactus Gardens of Cadereyta de Montes

If Mexico calls to you with its old-world beauty, its bloody but glorious history, its rich culture and the profound pride and love of life that is reflected in the faces of its people, then like me, you will never tire of searching out the country’s endless natural treasures. From the cathedrals of power to […]

Riding the cart to the train, near Ixhuatan, Oaxaca © Tony Burton 1985

Did you know? Mexico has many “Est”raordinary railway places

An earlier column, “Microwaves (with a view)”, examined the scenic delights to be found by following the “Microondas” road signs that puzzle many first-time visitors. That column probably didn’t appeal to any passing historians, but another road-sign abbreviation, “EST”, could easily have been invented just for them. EST stands for Estación. In some contexts, this would […]


Garbanzo soup with saffron: Garbanzos en amarillo

This thick soup is almost a stew, and makes a very satisfying vegetarian meal. It contains the orange sweet potato, grown in abundance in Querétaro, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest has named the most nutritious vegetable. If you don’t care for chile, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this soup, […]


Making merry in May: Mexico’s National Cheese and Wine Festival

To the north and west of Mexico City lies the region known as El Bajío, often called “Mexico’s breadbasket.” This rugged, high plateau bears a distinct resemblance to central Spain, home of its original settlers. Religious and hard working, they preserved many of the Spanish cultural and culinary traditions, and this part of Mexico is […]


Enchiladas with buttermilk sauce: Enchiladas de jocoque

Enchiladas with cream sauces are popular in Querétaro, and these use the thick Mexican buttermilk called jocoque, introduced by Mexico’s many Lebanese immigrants. A mixture of regular buttermilk (which is much thinner than jocoque) and Mexican crema, crême fraiche or sour cream makes a good substitute. Ingredients For the green salsa: 1 pound tomatillos, husked 1 medium white onion, coarsely […]


Mexican Queretaro-style lentil soup with nopales: Sopa de lentejas con nopales estilo Queretaro

This recipe, adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, contains the characteristically Mexican ingredients nopales, fresh green chiles and cilantro. Ingredients ½ cup brown lentils, rinsed 6 cups water ½ pound nopal cactus paddles, cleaned and diced salt to taste 1 large green onion, quartered ½ pound tomatoes, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons […]


Shrimp and nopal tacos: Tacos de camaron y nopalitos

The chunky salsa recipe that goes with these tacos makes more than necessary for the tacos, and is a delicious dip for totopos (fried tortilla triangles). I get asked for the recipe every time I serve it. Fresh nopales are abundant in the Bajío and are used to “extend” soups, stews, and taco fillings. Ingredients For the […]

Opal mine

Mexican fire opals

Few gemstones evoke the excitement of a precious fire opal. The flashy show of this gem makes each specimen unique, a fountain of mystery, enchantment and legend. Some say that opals convey foresight and good health. No wonder that it is the October birth stone. Pre-historically, the Aztecs are said to have decorated their most […]

Cathedral in downtown Queretaro

Mexico shining star: Amazing Queretaro adds fame

Some say I have lived a sheltered life. For years and years, all I knew about Queretaro, Queretaro (pronounced keh-REH-tah-roh) was that it was a couple of hours northwest of Mexico City, had a photogenic aqueduct and was a likely place to purchase opals, which I didn’t really need. My history retention is vague but […]

Real de Catorce

The mining towns of San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Both the name and the coat-of-arms of San Luis Potosi recall the tremendous importance of mining to Mexico’s economy. Called Potosí in emulation of the mines of that name high in the Bolivian Andes, the city’s coat-of-arms, awarded in 1656, has its patron saint standing atop a hill in which are three mine shafts. Left […]


Did you know? Mexico has more than one geographic center

I’ve often been asked, “Where’s the center of Mexico?”, and I’ve always deliberately fudged my reply, but is there a simple answer to this question? Well, perhaps not surprisingly, there isn’t! Several locations lay claim to being the center, but it’s all a question of definition. Does center mean “the point where the minimum distance […]


Queretaro: cultural mecca with colonial charm

Writing a newspaper column about the greatness of another country can earn the writer a good deal of mail running the gamut from “Do you know a good dentist in Morelia?” to “My wife and I would like to know where we should start looking to live in Mexico.” I don’t know a Morelian dentist […]

The Moorish influence of geometric design flank the portal to the Mission of Concá.

The five faces of God: Mexico’s Sierra Gorda missions

It must have been an incredibly difficult and painful journey in its time, sailing from Sevilla on the very frontier of Europe to Nueva España, then traveling on foot within the limitless boundaries of that still empty land from one end of the new empire to the other. The 17th and 18th centuries in the […]

A pristine side street in Bernal, the small city that sits beneath the monolithic magnetic mountain.

Guanajuato: Journey to the center of the universe

The most important visual image in the classic film, ” Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” was not the alien spaceship, but the imposing stone monolith chosen as the site of the encounter. In an attempt to understand the significance of his mental image of that place the star of the film almost goes mad. It […]

Photo © Bill Begalke 2000

The sky cities of Queretaro

The Saturday movie-matinee feature of pre-television history introduced my entire generation to the mystery and adventure of lost cities lurking in the dank depths of the world’s remote jungles. Great white hunters slashed their way with machetes through vine-infested rain forests seeking the treasures of civilizations long gone from the earth. In the third reel […]

Las Estacas The main attraction of Las Estacas is floating down the crystal clear river in inflatable inner tubes through a serene, if somewhat manicured, jungle habitat starting from where a spring bubbles out of the ground into a large pool at 8,000 liters a second. Photography & Annotations by Bob Brooke © 2001

Taking the “waters” in Mexico

Ahhhh. Oohhh. Awww. Mmmmmm.” These are the sounds most often heard as bathers first step into a warm mineral pool. More and more North Americans are discovering the pleasures and benefits of soaking in mineral baths, as they seek cures for rheumatism, arthritis, and a multitude of other ailments. But the Mexicans have known the […]

Craftspeople show off their work in the market in Tequisquiapan, Queretaro. These colorful candles are crafted by hand. © Daniel Wheeler, 2009

Tequisquiapan: provincial Mexican charm in Queretaro

Only a two-hour drive from Mexico City, Tequisquiapan is the second most important tourist destination in Querétaro. Although it comes to life on weekends, it retains the charm of a Mexico’s provincial towns. Pleasant hotels and restaurants abound. There are trails for mountain biking. Underground rivers flow to the surface in thermal springs that can […]


Plaza hopping in Queretaro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

We sat at a shady table at an outside patio listening to Pavarotti sing an aria while watching the silvery jets from a plaza fountain in 70-degree weather. This is my idea of the best way to spend a weekday lunch break in mid-December. I did just that in Querétaro, Mexico after having had a […]

An arched walkway surrounds the courtyard of San Sebastián Mártir Church in Bernal, Querétaro. In the center of the atrium stands a beautiful cross of carved quarry stone. © Jane Ammeson 2009

The magic of Bernal, Queretaro: wine, opals and historic charm

Sometimes in the evenings, after the sun has set behind the monolith that towers over the small village of San Sebastián Bernal, ánimas, or restless souls who sleep in the small graveyard near the old chapel, rise up and move silently through the quiet streets. The ánimas mean no harm. They are just continuing their daily round – what […]

Peña de Bernal, Querétaro

La Pena De Bernal And Guanajuato

Travel articles always emphasize the good and minimize the bad. After reading so much about so many different paradises all over the world, one begins to wonder where the authors find all those wonderful words to describe the mundane and tarnished glories of all those Gardens of Eden. So it was, and has been for […]

The main plaza and church of Tequisquiapan, a colonial escape-hatch for upper class Mexico City residents. It serves as a weekend retreat from the chaos of the capital.

Tequisquiapan, Queretaro: A delightful spa town

This article describes “a delightful little spa town too few foreign travelers have discovered”, to quote the 1979 edition of Fodor’s Guide to Mexico. Astonishingly, this description is as appropriate today as it was then. Imagine, if you will, the following: a small town, only two hours by car from Mexico City, with winding cobblestone […]

Map of Querétaro

Map of Queretaro

Map of Querétaro Map of Querétaro SCT, 1999.


Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was born at the Corralejo Hacienda in Pénjamo, Guanajuato, on May 8, 1753. He was sent to Valladolid (now Morelia) to study at the San Nicolás Obispo College, where he later taught theology, philosophy and ethics. He eventually became college Rector. In 1792, he was ordained as a priest and, after […]


TAGS – States, Regions, Cities

Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México (State of), México City, D.F., Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas,

Cathedral in downtown Queretaro

The beautiful Mexican colonial city of Queretaro

Querétaro yesterday. . . Querétaro was founded by the Spanish in 1531 on the site of a village of the Otomi Indians which, in turn, probably dated from around 1427. A number of events important in the history of the Mexican Republic have taken place in Queretaro. One of the heroines of the insurrection against Spain […]


The colonial cities

Posted by beth elsey on May 23, 1999 We plan to visit Queretero, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Morelia next week–would like any tips on charming places to stay (moderate range US50-70) and great places to eat. We will be doing the bus tour so places close enough to walk (less than a mile […]


La Pena of Bernal and Mexico Magico, Queretaro (Mexico Notes 12)

Mexico Notes It is like a scene from a Fellini movie. Shrieking laughter of women. French music from a boom box. Chop chop chop of a machete. And we, hunkered down in our sleeping bags. Journal, June 13   We exit San Miguel de Allende, travel up and out of town past movie complexes, shopping […]


Querétaro, Thanksgiving and pickled beets

A Woman’s Perspective on Living in Mexico After Lyn and I left Oaxaca, we drove northeast to Puebla, skirted around Mexico City and spent two and a half days in Querétaro. It’s been less than two months since we made the trip, but at my age, memory fades rapidly. Although we liked Puebla, it isn’t […]

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