Travellers interested in history and culture should not miss Colonial Mexico. As some of you may know, Mexico was the centre of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It all started when Christopher Columbus sailed West to get to India and stumble upon what today we know as the West Indies across the Atlantic. After setting foot in the Caribbean, the Spanish explorers arrived at the coast of Mexico in 1517 where the Spanish Conquest over the Aztec Empire (with the help of the Tlaxcaltecas, enemies to the Aztecs) adhered the territory to the Spanish Crown by 1521. After the downfall of the Aztec Empire the Spaniards started to found many cities that until today are living evidence of the colonial era.
Colonial buildings, the urbanisation of the cities and the décor will let you understand Latin-America itself. The fusion of the pre-Columbian cultures with the European heritage results in the beautiful architecture that you will find on your holiday in Mexico. Here are some cities that you will want to include in your trip:
Visit the Zocalo and the National Palace, where you can admire the murals of Diego Rivera. You will also be able to see the ruins of the Aztecs’ Empire, Tenochtitlan and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Other places you can visit are the house of the famous painter Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan, the Chapultepec Park, the colourful Xochimilco and the Reforma Avenue. You want more art? Check out our Ultimate Museum Guide to Mexico City.
About two-three hours from Mexico City, you will find Queretaro, a city full of colonial plazas and the cradle of Mexican independence. Visit its Vecindades, beautiful buildings where many people used to live. Some of these recently have become top boutique hotels.
San Miguel de Allende
Is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, the Best Small City in the world for two years in a row and recognized as World Heritage Site since 2008. A lot of Americans choose to retire to this city which has given the city a cosmopolitan vibe. Visit the Allende Institute of Art and Culture, their beautiful Saint Michael Archangel Cathedral or do a day trip to its hot springs.
Between tracks and alleys, you will find the magic of Mexico’s history. Its named after the priest that started the independence movement against the Spanish, but now its famous for its ceramics and rebozos.
An old silver mining town which mining tunnels have now become roads. Guanajuato is a historical and picturesque town of agreeable little plazas, streets lined with stairs, and houses of pastel-coloured facades. It is characterized by its passageways, underground streets and mummy museum. They had a tax on burials, so families couldn’t afford to bury their loved ones, so they left them and because of the climate and the mining, the bodies are incredibly well preserved (100 years old). From mummies to romance, this city has it all. At night, the callejoneadas feature University students singing through the streets and drinking. Visit for the Cervantino Cultural Festival in October.
A colonial treasure declared a World Heritage site for its churrigueresque architecture. The city of beautiful pink quarry stone encompasses magic, tradition, and charm.
Its lake and landscape combined with the architecture of its city centre have long made Patzcuaro one of Mexico’s classic destinations. It is a charming village with colourful markets surrounded by green mountains. It is known for the Day of the Dead celebrations, where you can take a boat ride to Janitzio Island and enjoy a festivity full of marigolds, food, and candlelight.
A city that has stopped in time. Its calm streets are silent witnesses to the history that has been accumulating in the nooks and corners; they have been perfectly defined by the magnificence of colonial constructions. November through March the Monarch butterfly migrations come through here and it is a magnificent spectacle. The trees are absolutely covered by butterflies.
But Colonial Mexico does not stop here, important cities like Puebla, Oaxaca, Merida, and Campeche are also incredibly beautiful and worth a visit. Talk to our Travel Advisors to create an itinerary suiting your historical and architectural interests!