Photo: Ron Mader, Arches (Some rights reserved)
Capital of the state of Morelos, Cuernavaca (elevation: 1,548 meters, 4,856 feet) has a storied past. What is today the state of Morelos was inhabited by the Chichimecs and inhabited by the Xochimilca and later the Tlahuica, who founded Cuauhnáhuac, which the Spanish renamed Cuernavaca in 1521.
The city boasts one of the most agreeable climates in the country and is adorned with colorful flowers year-round, earning the moniker “land of eternal spring.”
Spanish language education taught to foreigners dates back to the 1960s when the town was put on the map by students attracted by the offer of immersion learning.
The city’s history begins with the settlement of the Tlahuicas in Cuauhnáhuac, who took advantage of the good climate offered by the region and the ravines that allowed them to have a fortified site. The Tlahuicas are considered a subgroup of the Náhuatl-speaking Aztecs. Cuauhnahuac was later renamed Cuernavaca by the Spaniards who were unable to pronounce the original Náhuatl name.
At the time of the conquest, the city was transformed and at the fall of the Mexica Empire, Cuernavaca was erected with the aim of being the home of the military class, recently converted to the nobility.
Cuernavaca served as the residence of Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortés. The Palacio de Cortés, built between 1522 and 1532, showcases the country’s history, culture and tradition. The building is located on the main square. The second floor is adorned with murals that depict Mexican history by Diego Rivera.
The Museo Robert Brady, Calle Netzahualcoyotl #4, was the home of U.S. artist and collector Robert Brady. The museum includes several paintings by well-known Mexican artists, including Kahlo, Tamayo and Covarrubias and also has an extensive mask collection from around the world. Open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Modest entrance fee.
Tlaltenango used to be a separate town but is now a neighborhood. The church compound containing the Church of San José and the Church of Nuestra Señora de los Milagros de Tlaltenango are the main attraction. San José is one of Mexico’s oldest churches, built between 1521 and 1523.
Location – Cuernavaca is located 95 kilometers (50 miles) south of Mexico City. Nearby is Tepoztlán.
Transportation – This is a direct bus from Mexico City’s airport to Cuernavaca. It runs every hour throughout most of the day and every 90 minutes in the evening until 11pm.
A pleasant excursion is Lagunas de Zempoala National Park, 25 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of the city.
Some of the park’s seven lakes are stocked with game fish. In terms of biological diversity or even entertainment, this is adequate, but not representative of Mexico’s grandeur. You’ll find well-worn paths for hiking and even some areas for camping. All in all, it is an easy day trip. To get there from the highway between Mexico City and Cuernavaca, turn off the main road at Tres Marías and head west through the town of Huitzilac.
Iglesia de Tlaltenango