Tepotzotlán

The charming town of Tepotzotlán is about 43 km northwest of Mexico City, just off the road to Querétaro. It is not to be confused with Tepoztlán, to the south of Mexico City near Cuernavaca. The town centre is quaint and cobblestoned, with a central plaza surrounded by
portales
(arches), restaurants and shops. There is a big market on Wednesday and Sunday when the streets get very congested; on such days you'll find a good selection of handicrafts and jewellery, as well as meat, cheese and other foods. In the third week of December,
pastorelas
(plays based on the temptation and salvation of Mexican pilgrims voyaging to Bethlehem) are held.Outside of town, the three-tiered
Arcos del Sitio
is an impressive 440-m-long aqueduct built in the 18th century. It's contained by the 54-ha Parque Sierra de Tepotzotlán, which has good opportunities for hiking.

Iglesia de San Fransisco Javier

Built in the late 17th century, the Iglesia de San Fransisco Javier is a fine example of baroque design, resplendent with soaring features and a wealth of exuberant detail. The facade facing Plaza Hidalgo is an 18th-century addition and even more ostentatious, belonging to the Churrigueresque tradition that took baroque flamboyance to its limit. The interior is impressive too, with a main altar that's lavishly decorated in gold leaf. Elsewhere are stunningly adorned ceilings, carved wooden pillars, colonial art and endless showy renditions of angels and saints. Adjoining the church is a former Jesuit monastery, now home to the country's best viceregal museum .

Museo Nacional de Virreinato

www.munavi.inah.gob.mx.

The handsome viceregal museum is a comprehensive and well-displayed collection covering all aspects of life under Spanish rule. Formerly a Jesuit monastery, convent and language college, this intriguing complex of cloisters, passages, chapels and gardens took over 150 years to build after the first bricks were laid in 1606. The Jesuits were expelled from New Spain in 1767, and the building did not find its purpose as a museum until 1964, when it was extensively restored and opened to the public. A superb collection of colonial art can be seen here, some of it originally belonging to Mexico City's cathedral. There's also antique furniture, weaponry, statues, textiles, gold and silverware, all fairly sumptuous and impressive. Like the adjoining church, much of the interior is lavishly adorned with sculpted facades overlaid with gold leaf. Other areas recall the quiet solitude of the building's early use as a place of religious meditation and monastic study.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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