The cradle of Mexican Independence is now the country’s hottest place to live. Querétaro’s awesome standard of living (good wages, booming infrastructure, high degree of safety, high level of education, etc), hip shops, hotels (including the Dona Urraca and the opening-soon Casa del Atrio), bars and restaurants and proximity to major Mexican cities (it’s just over two hours from Mexico City) have attracted so many new residents that Querétaro (no one calls it by its full name, Santiago de Querétaro) is currently Mexico’s fastest growing city, filling up with hip urban refugees faster than you can pronounce the name of the damn place.
But Querétaro’s most famous influx of people didn’t come looking for a chic wine bar or a cool hotel. Nope. In 1810 Josepha Ortiz de Dominguez, also known as La Corregidora, and her compatriots came to Querétaro to plot a revolution. Though their plan was eventually discovered, the Querétaro conspirators captured and their co-conspirators in neighboring areas narrowly warned, this is considered one of the earliest actions by the Mexican Independence movement.
In 1847 Querétaro was made capital of the Republic when the U.S. invaded during the Mexican American War. On May 30 1848, the two countries ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in Querétaro, which called for Mexico to give half of its territory to the United States including vast areas encompassing what’s now California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, parts of Colorado and New Mexico.
Querétaro became the capital of the Republic again on February 5, 1917, when the Proclamation of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States was established by President Venustiano Carranza at the Constitutional Congress in the city’s Teatro de la República. The Constitution remains in force to this day.
More recently, UNESCO named the Historic Monuments Zone of Santiago de Querétaro a World Heritage Site, which has protected and preserved it’s colonial look and feel. Happily, Querétaro is also in the process of burying downton power lines which will elminate the ugly overhead tangle of wires.
Following the Spanish conquest the Querétaro area, strategically on the way as you connect the mining areas of Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas with Mexico City, became a kind of base camp for Catholicism with many convents springing up to house and educate monks and, to a lesser degree, nuns who then fanned out from Querétaro to conquer the north of the country and convert local people to the Catholic faith. One extreme example is Catholic missionary Junípero Serra who left Querétaro for Alta California ON FOOT and ultimately founded many of the major cities in what became California, including the city of San Francisco. This role in the northward spread of Catholicism explains why downtown Querétaro has so many religious sites.
During our time in Querétaro we couldn’t shake the feeling that we were in Rome. Okay, not literealy but Querétaro, like Rome, was built and populated thanks to an elaborate aqueduct system which, at one time, fed 60 public fountains and many private one. You can still see working fountains around town. There are also statues all over the place and the peole who live here have a real fondness for snacking in open air cafes–just replace the ubiquitous Italian panini with a gordita, a local specialty that’s essentially a fried corn batter pita pocket stuffed with whatever you like, and you’ve got it. In Querétaro they gorditas are even served with oregano.
There’s also an ice cream shop called Italy (more on that in our next post).
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