Two hours inland from
the coast is Xalapa (elevation: 1,427 meters), the capital of Veracruz
and a strong contender for the greenest city in Mexico.
Xalapa has a pleasant climate year-round and receives
rain, the light chipi-chipi mist, most of the year. Vegetation
includes a mix of sub-tropical species. You'll easily spot the banana
trees and coffee plants en route to town.
In the Náhuatl
language of the Aztecs,
the name 'Xalapa' means 'springs (of water) in the sand.' It is
spelled as Xalapa and Jalapa.
Two mountains dominate the town: Mexico's highest peak, Pico de
Orizaba, in the south, and closer to town, Cofre de Perote, a volcanic
mountain whose summit is covered with radio antennae. Cofre de Perote
is Mexico's eighth highest peak (4,200 meters) and is at the southern
end of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Xalapa is sometimes called the 'Athens
of Veracruz' because of the strong cultural tradition -- a symphony
orchestra, three major universities and a number of museums. The
city has been home to the University
of Veracruz since 1944.
The city's stand-out attraction is the striking, terraced
de Antropología (Museum of Anthropology). The L-shaped
building displays seven of the Olmec
heads, as well as Totanac and Huasteca art. If you've come to Veracruz
to see the Filobobos ruins, this museum is a great place to start.
It is located off of Avenida Xalapa, about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles)
from downtown. Closed Mondays.
Parque Juárez is located at the cenetr of the city. Terraced
gardens feature views of Pico de Orizaba.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ECOLOGY
A 10-minute taxi ride southwest of the city on the old road to
Coatepec leads to the National Institute of Ecology, a regional
research center, and its famous Clavijero Botanical Gardens, which
boast an amazing display of plants native to Veracruz.
Jalapeño peppers are pickled serrano chiles that were first
A few miles away the town of Coatepec
has been the center of the rich, shade grown coffee since the early
1800s. The Casa de la Ciudad hosts a lively and quite friendly Saturday
market from 10am-3pm.
Other places to visit include the waterfall at Naolinco, the pine-covered
forests of Las Vigas and thermal baths of Carrizal.