San Miguel de Allende and the Heartland: Places to Explore

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Querétaro

Querétaro is a modern city of about a million inhabitants, but it holds its own against the region's other colonial cities, with wide, tree-lined boulevards and wonderfully manicured parks adorned with fountains and statues of its heroes. Even the large factories rising around the perimeter manage to look nice.

The city draws more international executives than tourists, but it is sophisticated, with many restaurants, nightclubs, and theaters. Historically, Querétaro is notable as the former residence of Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez, popularly known as La Corregidora, who warned the conspirators gathered in San Miguel and its environs that their independence plot had been discovered. It is here that the ill-fated Emperor Maximilian made his last stand and was executed by firing squad on the Cerro de Las Campanas (Hill of Bells), and where eventually the Mexican Constitution was signed in 1917.

The city's relatively small historic center is easily viewed by walking along its andadores (pedestrian walkways). When you want to venture farther afield, your best bet is the tranvías turísticos operated by the Tourism Department located at Pasteur 4 Norte in the historic center. There are three routes: Ruta A, Maximilian's Empire, tours the city with a stop at the Cerro de Las Campanas where Emperor Maximilian was shot; Ruta B, Foundation of the City, visits historic 18th-century buildings; and Ruta C affords panoramic city views. The trolleys run daily, departing roughly every hour from 10 to 7:30. The cost is $5–$7, depending on the route. Routes A and B have wheelchair access. Museums close on Monday.

Querétaro is renowned for its opals, which come in red, green, honey, and fire varieties. Because some street vendors sell opals so full of water that they crumble shortly after purchase, you should make purchases only from reputable dealers.

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