Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Queretaro
was the frontier between the sedentary peoples of the south, dedicated
to farming, and the nomad groups of the north, such as the Chichimecas
- word translated as "Blood Suckers". Due to their "primitivism"
and roving way of life, they were disdained by the Aztecs, who came
to the zone in the early XV century.
The Spanish foundation of Queretaro took place after a bloody fight
between the Chichimecas
and the Iberian conquistadors.
The confrontation unfolded on top the Sangremal Hill, on July the
5th of 1531. According to chronicles written by Franciscan friars,
the Apostle James, patron of the Spanish army, appeared in the midst
of the battle deciding the Spanish victory.
In gratitude for the divine intervention, the nascent City received
the name of Santiago de Queretaro
, being one of
the top neighbours the conversed native named Conín, who was baptised
as Fernando de Tapia, and who allied with Spaniard Hernán Pérez
Bocanegra to confront the Chichimecas.
In no time the modest town of natives became one of the most opulent cities in the New Spain, the third actually, after Mexico and Puebla. Its growth was supported by its strategic geographic location, which turned it into the gateway to enter the northern part of the country, a zone controlled by "the barbarian peoples of the inland" who "ought to be evangelised".
The evangelisation task was assumed by the Franciscan, the Carmelite,
the Jesuit and the Dominican priests, who before starting their
laborious task on the isolated zones, built monumental temples and
convents in Queretaro
, amongst which the baroque
and neoclassical styles are predominant.
Amazing religious precincts, such as the Temple and former Convent of San Agustin, one of the major works of the Jesuits in New Spain, the Temple and former Convent of Santa Rosa of Viterbo, with its superb interior decoration and exquisite altarpieces, or the exaggerated baroque of the Temple of Santa Clara, stand out.
The extravagant and sumptuous architecture leapt beyond the religious
cloisters to become part of the houses and palaces of colonial roots,
and of great civil works such as the aqueducts, conceived to provide
the City with water, which due to their greatness have nowadays
turned into the urban symbols of Queretaro
not only was an important colonial
urban centre, but one of the main scenarios on the efforts to boost
the independence, because at the so called House of the Lady Magistrate
- currently the Palace of Government - took place the conspiracy
that unchained the famous Cry of Dolores, the act which marked the
beginning of the Mexican emancipation.
Once in the skirts of the City, the Pyramid of Cerritos, a religious
precinct considered as one of the most important in the central
zone of Mexico
, should be visited. Other vestiges
of much interest are the awesome archaeological zones of Ranas and
Toluquilla, on the mountains of Sierra Gorda. Both places had great
economic, political and religious influence upon the neighbouring
Before leaving Queretaro
behind, travellers should
take some time in order to visit the rosary of restful towns of
narrow streets and beautiful colonial churches located outside the
City. The most representatives are San Juan del Rio, with its appealing
baroque constructions, and Tequesquipán, with its innumerable stalactites
With an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, Queretaro - Cultural Patrimony of Humanity since 1996 - has a variety of attractions that tell us about the creative spirit and the push of its inhabitants, who faced more than one difficulty to sculpt inch by inch a City that dazzles and fascinates travellers.