Xochicalco could be translated as "the place of the house of the flowers". It was an important religious, scientific, artistic, political and economic centre that lived its peak between the years of 650 and 900AD, after the decline of Teotihuacán and before the raise of the Toltec civilisation.
Proclaim by the UNESCO in 1999 as a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity, Xochicalco was a fortress city erected over a group of hills. The uneven grounds of the hills bind the constructors to created big terraces before building their monumental compounds, which by the way, shows Teotihuacán's, Zapotecas and Mayas influence.
The fortress city was doted with pits, big walls, terraces, and many restricted accesses, characteristics that aloud them to defend themselves of possible attacks and control the entrance of visitors.
Some investigators believe that Xochicalco was also a centre for high studies, like a university, where the wise and learned people of Mesoamerican nations gather to share astronomic knowledge and perfect the calendar.
Its main monuments are: The Quetzalcoatl Pyramided ("the feather serpent") that captivates with its admirable bas-relief on the four sides, and represents the mythical feather serpent, the Observatory, a circular structure that is illuminated by the rays of the sun during the equinox, La plaza de la Estela de los Glifos, and Juego de la Pelota, among other notable constructions. The Site Museum that takes advantage of the sunrays should also be visited.
Xochicalco is located near the town of Micatlán, 38 kilometres out of Cuernavaca, going on Highway 95 Mexico-Acapulco.
Was an important ceremonial and commercial centre of the chalca-xochimilca, a human group influence by the olmecas. Their notable constructions exhibit magnificent steles and bas-relief on stone, a unique characteristic of the archaeology of the zones of the Mexican central plateau.
In its beginnings, around the 3000BC, the inhabitants of these lands were dedicated to agriculture and hunting. But, around 1500BC, these activities were relegated by commerce due to the influence of the olmecas. With them they exchange primary materials and ritual objects, giving way to commercial routes in Mesoamerica. That's when Chalcatzingo turned into a powerful economic empire reaching its peak between the years of 700 and 500BC.
Chalcatzingo was re-discovered in 1934. Unfortunately, so far, only 10% of the complex has been explored. The scholars have been able to rescue 30 monuments with rock carvings, stelae and stone sculptures. Among them a monolith named The King -the image of a ruler surrounded with agricultural products-, they also have unearthed 150 funeral bundles dated from 1500 to 500BC.
Its name Chalcatzingo, of nahuatl origin, is traduce as "the most valued place of the chalcas" -in reference to the chalco lords-, "the true place of the holly waters" or "the place of the beautiful jades"
The village of Chalcatzingo is located 69 kilometres out of Cuernavaca
in the municipality of Jantetelco.
-San Antón Cascade
Is a beautiful cascade that has more than 40 metres of altitude and 30 metres deep. This impressing cascade runs between profuse vegetation and gorgeous flowers.
There are stairs and walkways in this area that allow the traveller to descend to the bottom of the waterfalls and appreciate the singular figures of crystallized basalt carved in a natural way.
This cascade is located 3 kilometres from Cuernavaca
in the vicinity of the village of San Antonio Analco, also known
as San Antón. The inhabitants of this small town are dedicated potters
(make cute replicas of the waterfalls) and keepers of the many nurseries.
This lake, the biggest and more important of the State, is known as "The Sea of Morelos". Its dimensions are approximately of 5 by 8 kilometres, being one of the best places for practising water sports.
The natural beauty of the lagoon (914 meters over sea level) is complemented by a notable tourist infrastructure, with beach clubs, sport shops and guest lodges, making it one of the preferred places to get away from winter.
The origin of the lagoon remounts to XIX century, when the owners of the hacienda San José Vista Hermosa, started the construction of a canal. Unfortunately the canal was not well calculated and its water overflows it, flooding the colonial village of Tequesquitengo; and "the sea of Morelos" was formed. Nowadays, when the level of the waters recede, it is possible to see the tower of the church of the flooded village.
The lagoon is located 37 kilometres South of Cuernavaca
between the bridges of Ixtla and Jojutla.
-National Park Zempeola Lagoons
This is and attractive ecosystem formed by 7 lagoons which are surrounded by dense woods of pines, oyameles and Holm oaks(encinos). In1936, the President Lázaro de Cárdenas order the creation of a national park to protect and preserve the prodigious flora and fauna that existed on that zone.
With its 2900 metres over sea level and extension of 4790 hectares -share between the municipalities of Huitzilac (state of Morelos) and Ocuilán de Arteaga (state of Mexico)- this natural space is part of the lovely Biologic Corridor Ajusco-Chichinautzin, a protected natural area with 37000 hectares.
Inside the park it is possible to camp, fish and horse ride. The most visited lagoons are Zempeola, La Tonathiua and La Prieta. These lagoons are located 28 kilometres out of Cuernavaca and 48 kilometres from Mexico City.
-Natural Park of the Stakes
It is an incomparable natural area with springs and natural pools that temps and invites you to come in and relax in its crystals waters. The landscape complements the beauty with the exuberance of the royal palms, the millenarian fig trees and a great variety of fruit trees.
Its main attraction is the powerful spring of the Stakes, that feeds - with its 7500liters of water per second- the river that runs trough the zone, and the natural pools that "moistens" the smashing geography of the park. Racoons, armadillos, flying squirrels, turtles, among other species inhabit it.
In The Stakes, you will also find an amazing eco-tourism complex
of 22 hectares on the land that once used to be a colonial hacienda.
This park is located in the municipality of Tlaltizapán, 97 kilometres
out of Cuernavaca
Is a village of colonial origin, marked by history. Transcendental events have taken place here, like the "Besiege of Cuautla" during the independence war. Later it will become the scenario for the revolutionary war of led by Emiliano Zapata.
The "Besiege of Cuautla" occurred in 1812, when liberating forces commanded by the General José María Morelos y Pavón (1765-1815), a rural priest disciple of the priest Miguel Hidalgo -father of the independence of Mexico-, arrived here with the intention of fortifying and prepare it to face the Spanish army. The town was siege by surprise on the 19th of February. The siege would be broken 72 days later. Later, in the XX century, this town became the scenario of the Emiliano Zapata's wars and also his last resting place.
In April of 1919, the agrarian leader was betrayed and murder. Since then, the image of the man of the sad look, hirsute moustache, with charro attire, is always present in Cuautla.
This town is located 45 kilometres Southeast of Cuernavaca
Here you have to visit the following places:
-Historic Museum of the Orient of Morelos or Morelos House
Is the house where the hero of the independence José María Morelos y Pavón, found refuge during the Siege of Cuautla. The spacious house -located in the Zócalo (main plaza) of the town- has 13 rooms, where you can find documents, arms and other objects used by the leader of the emancipation of Mexico; there is also in exhibit valuable archaeological pieces and craft and traditional costume of Morelos.
-Plazuela Revolución del Sur
In this public plaza lie the remains of the famous revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. This is the final point of the so- called Zapata Route, which begins in the house where he was born (Anenecuilco, city of Ayala) and continues along the places of great significance in the life of this singular man.
-Ex Hacienda Cocoyoc,
Is a truly beautiful colonial hacienda that once was property of the conqueror Hernán Cortés. After his descendents sold it, the hacienda changed owners many times.
In the XVII century, the hacienda became a sugar mill and increases its extension. In the XVII and XIX century its production was one of the most important of the country, due to the construction of an aqueduct and the use of modern machinery.
In 1910, in the middle of Mexican Revolution, the hacienda was set on fire by the rebel troops. After more than 4 decades of being abandoned, was acquire by Paulina Rivera (1957), who convert it in a cosy hotel with spa and golf course. The old stables and the aqueduct still remain up to these days.
Its name, in náhualt language, traduces as "place of coyotes". It
is located in the municipality of Yautepec, on the kilometre 32.5
of the federal highway Cuernavaca
-Ex Hacienda San José Vista Hermosa
This colonial hacienda dates from1529. As Cocoyoc, it was also property of Hernán Cortés. In the early years its prosperous fields were planted with sugarcane brought from Spain. But, when the descendants of the conqueror sold the hacienda in 1621, it was converted in a cattle ranch, rice field and mill.
In the XIX century, the brothers Miguel and Leandro Mosso -in that time the owners of the hacienda- accidentally propitiated the formation of Tequesquitengo Lake, when they constructed a canal that was under dimension, and flooded the town.
In 1910, the revolutionary forces of the insurgent agrarian leader Emiliano Zapata destroyed the hacienda. Its restoration started in1944, when it was acquired by private capital.
The hacienda actually maintains its fortress type colonial architecture, the machinery with which the sugarcane was processed and the aqueducts.
It is located in the kilometre 7 of the highway Alpuyeca-Tequesquitengo, San José Vista Hermosa, Ixtla Bridge.