Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico

Our first evening, the plaza in front of our hotel
was filled with families as it was a Sunday.
 A band played in the Plaza behind the Hotel.

The Gran Hotel takes up a full city block and the
19th C building has been very modernized. 


Our flights from Dallas were to Queretaro so we decided to stay two nights there at the end of our trip and see the city. Our hotel, the Gran Hotel de Queretaro was formerly a monastery and sits between two major plazas in the central part of the city. The Spanish city was founded in 1531 when a battle was fought between the Spanish and their allies, the Aztec region Otomi, against the local Otomi and Chichimecas on the hill considered sacred in pre-Hispanic times. The latter were winning when a total eclipse of the sun scared them into surrendering. The Spanish claimed they saw an image of Saint James riding a white horse and carrying a rose-colored cross. He became the patron saint of the city as a result.

The Plaza at the rear of the hotel with the Temple of San Francisco de Asís in the background.

Queretaro is considered one of the the cradles of Mexican Independence and much of the credit is given to Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez. She was the wife of the governor at the beginning of the 19th C and used her prominent position to gather intelligence for the rebels. We were told the story that during her imprisonment in 1810, she managed to smuggle out important information through a rolled up paper fed through the keyhole to Miguel Hidalgo, "Mexico's Paul Revere", who rode his horse to warn the insurgents. He rushed to Dolores, where he gave his famous cry for independence. 

The church of La Santa Cruz where the battle occurred and Saint James "appeared" It was the site of the Collegio de la Propagaacion de la Fe, the first missionary school established in the Americas. From there missionaries such as Junipero Serra set out on foot to establish missions as far away as California. We visited several of them in Arizona.

We took a tour of the city in a replica of a Model Ford and heard these stories along with the later tale of Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico who was defeated at the Siege of Queretaro, took prisoner, and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1867. An Austrian archduke, he was persuaded by conservative Mexicans with the help of Napoleon III to establish the Second Mexican Empire in 1864 - it was a short reign!

We had lunch at the Hank's restaurant under
the portico at the Gran Hotel and it was so 
excellent, we came back for dinner. Funny to
have Cajun food in Mexico but great.

Our guide and vehicle for a trip around the city

A small section of the aqueduct

The most prominent feature of the city is the enormous aqueduct of Queretaro, consisting of seventy-four arches, each 20 meters wide with an average height of 23 meters and over 1 mile long. It was built between 1726 and 1738 at the request of the nuns of the Santa Clara Convent to bring clean water to the residents of the city. 

Our table at Hank's after dinner.

Small kiosks selling souvenirs line the parks
and pedestrian streets.

A view from the old city wall

This is a fast growing city and has the 2nd highest GDP per capita in Mexico basing it's economy on IT and data centers, aircraft manufacturing, call centers, etc. - plus a rapidly growing wine industry. This has resulted in high levels of migration from other parts of Mexico. The population is over one million now. We looked out from the old city walls at miles of suburbs and commercials centers in all directions. We covered a fair amount of territory inside the historic district but we only had one full day. On Tuesday we flew back to Dallas/Ft Worth, reclaimed our truck and drove back to Baby. We'll spend two nights at the Shady Acres RV Park before heading west to Abilene State Park. We need a day to do laundry, shop and clean up. 

All the parks were beautifully kept and landscaped - one feature we saw throughout the old city was the sculpted trees.

There seemed to be a church every other block of various sizes. They all belong to the State but maintained in most cases by the church. The constitutions of 1857 and later 1917 separated Church and State and limited the power of the Catholic Church. 

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