Cuernavaca & Taxco

The Tercera Orden Chapel - part of the Cuernavaca cathedral complex

What do tired and weary residents of Mexico City do on weekends? Many of them head off down into Cuernavaca, often called the "land of eternal spring". Just 102 kilometers away from the capital, the roads get clogged with cars and buses, surely not as inviting for a short rejuvenation if all one experiences is the congestion one is escaping away from? Thankfully for us, we went there on a Monday on our way to the mining town of Taxco, on a van trip arranged by our hostel for just under $40 per person.

Catedral de Cuernavaca

What surprised me is that the town sits actually lower than Mexico City at 1,533 meters above sea level (Mexico City is at a loftier 2,239 meters). The climate is so agreeable that rulers and conquerors built retreat houses - from the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II to Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés. These days, those who can afford them splurge at the numerous spas around town. As for us, we're only getting a taste of its spiritual side on a quick visit to the Catedral de Cuernavaca (or Catedral de la Asunción de María).

Murals can be seen depicting missionaries martyred in Japan
Monastery adjacent to Cuernavaca Cathedral

The church was built in 1552 looking like a huge fortress. While renovations to the interior has been made over the centuries, what caught our attention were the 18th-century frescoes uncovered during refurbishing work. On the walls depict the martyrdom of Mexico's first saint San Felipe de Jesús and his companions in Japan in 1597. We almost thought San Lorenzo Ruiz was part of this! San Felipe and his group were sailing from Manila on their way to Mexico when a storm sent their ship to the shores of Japan instead. What a fate.

Taxco de Alarcon and a traffic jam of Beetle taxis

From Cuernavaca, it's 76 kilometers further south to Taxco de Alarcón or simply Taxco. On approach to town, one can't help but be awed by its picturesque location. Houses cling to the hillsides along with a slew of old churches. The view reminded me in a way of La Paz, Bolivia. But what really made this town alluring to foreigners was what's once plentiful underneath its belly - silver. There's hardly any left these days but silversmiths and jewelry shops are all over town, begging for tourists to take even just a peek at reasonably-priced and well-designed pieces.

Santa Prisca Church

In 1751, silver mining made one French guy named José de la Borda so rich that he had a church built as a way of thanksgiving.The imposing facade of Santa Prisca Church is already eye-catching until one goes inside and gets assaulted by the carved retablo made of resplendent gold. Gawking at the altar felt like already seeing God in the flesh. We craned our necks up and down and threw praises in hushed abandon. It's undoubtedly one of the prettiest churches I've visited.

The view from the restaurant

We had buffet lunch at El Atrio Restaurant where their outdoor seating provided fantastic views of the town. Food was plentiful but nothing was memorable. Like any other visitor, we also stopped by one of the silver shops where someone explained the intricacies involved in designing. Despite all those beautiful silver pieces, we found ourselves merely contented with window-shopping. Jewelry isn't really my thing.

Up and down Taxco

What got me more driven for the afternoon was walking up the steep and narrow streets above Plaza Borda just in front of the church. We huffed and puffed, dodging VW Beetles commonly used as taxis. Our Spanish wasn't too good but we managed ourselves well enough to get directions easily. The walk, if taken on a daily basis like most locals do, is serious calorie-burning really. Anyone who wants to lose weight might want to try living for a few months in Taxco. Perhaps a Mexican version of the Biggest Loser?


  1. Ah, I should have done this day trip when I was in Mexico City. A week is just not enough for that place! And Taxco looks very hilly indeed. Finally, that monastery seems to have the exact lay-out as the Guatemalan monasteries too: courtyard that is square or rectangular formed by arches, and a fountain in the middle.

  2. Such an amazing place. Looks like Baguio from afar but at close, it's just totally different. I love the white Voks taxi and that is unusual to see for me. Ang swerte niyo po you have been to these places. You're such an inspiration to me to travel, although I know I may not be able to reach these places but at least my travel spirit is rejuvenated.

  3. Jeruen,
    Most of my American colleagues who only thought of Mexico as a beach destination were surprised to find something like this beauty in the mountains. I do want to go back someday and explore some more - Mexico is huge!

    Edmaration etc,
    While the huge VW plant in Mexico has stopped producing Beetles, there's still plenty of old ones plying everywhere as taxis.
    Thanks - darating din yung time mo to travel beyond Asia :)

  4. so glad you visited taxco i have a point of reference. i've always wanted to see this town.

  5. galing ng town parang VIGAN sa BAGUIO city.yung ganun---pero mas malinis at maayos.hahaha---isa siguro to sa mga maggandang bansa--MEXICO----pero malaki rin no so medyo me kalayuan at ibat ibang lugar.parang naka punta nako ah.hahaha. backreading your posts and you are one lucky guy, pati Pyramid of the Sun na conquer mo na :)

  6. yes, undoubtedly one of the best church facade and interior. ginto! totally stunning. for sure madami nagpapakasal jan.

  7. Photo Cache,
    I think you mentioned your desire to go there - I'm sure this will happen sooner than later. Ikaw pa.

    pusang kalye,
    There are plenty of old churches & buildings even in central Mexico City kaya nakakalula for someone who likes colonial architecture!

    I have feeling marami ngang nagpapakasal doon - kagaya ng San Agustin sa Intramuros.

  8. (i attempted to post comment several times but i failed; dunno! must be a glitch either on my end or on your site; anyway, as they say, try and try and never quit, so here goes...)

    nice black adidas (is it?) sneakers but your seemingly relaxing pose looks dangerous to me. mukhang mataas iyan e!

    i also like the interiors of the church; i think even the worst atheist will find it inviting. *kidding*

    that shot of those volks with its backdrop is also a favorite! ang husay!

    tama sila, mukhang baguio at vigan!

    the lunch plate of course should not be missed. pinoy na pinoy! halo halo kasi sa plato! ganyan kami lalo na buffet, syempre don't forget the coke! hehe!

  9. docgelo,
    patience is indeed a virtue. lol! I dunno what happened here but I pray to the techno gods nothing will affect our comments section again.
    I almost forgot about food pix until I remembered your previous comment :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...