Mexico City to Veracruz

Part of the dark, rolling topography of the Sierra Nevada - also known as the Trans-Mexican Volcanic belt - the central highlands of Veracruz play host to diverse geological and cultural landscapes. Somnolent farming communities and fetching colonial towns are among the settings, all surrounded by vertiginous ravines, roaring waterfalls, whitewater rapids and daunting volcanic vistas. Mexico's highest peak, Pico de Orizaba, finds its home here, drawing scores of determined adventurers out to conquer its glacial extremes. Elsewhere, the misty slopes are fertile ground for coffee fincas, tobacco plantations and a riot of tropical fruit trees. Flowers, too, are a major highland economy, bursting from teeming market stalls and colouring lively village fiestas. For those in search of more urban destinations, the colonial city of Córdoba is a relaxing provincial escape, but Xalapa, the state capital, is a formidable cultural centre that's home to verdant gardens and important universities. Don't miss the world-class anthropology museum, where you can discover the mysteries of Olmec civilization. Their monumental sculptures include giant stone heads, baby-faced figurines and curious were-jaguars that are neither human nor animal. Like the ancient landscapes that preceded it, the central highlands of Veracruz remain a bastion of strange, entrancing beauty.

Much of the area east of Mexico City constituted the eastern tribute quarter conquered by the Mexica, formerly the Aztecs, who derived great wealth from those subject nations that stretched from the Basin of Mexico to the Guatamalan border. It pays to explore the present-day tapestry of highland communities and landscapes, but if you need to reach the coast rapidly, fast toll Highway 150 runs all the way from Mexico City to Veracruz.

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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