towns are nothing new to Mexico. Back when Cortes and his gang arrived,
they learned how the Aztecs escaped Mexico City's winter chill by spending
the colder months in a town about 40 miles south, over the mountains.
The name was a tongue-twister (Cuauhnahuac in Nahauatl). To Spanish
ears, it sounded something like Cow's Horn, or Cuerno de Vaca. And that's
how Cuernavaca got it's name.
have been going there to escape the hustle of the capital ever since.
When his adventuring days were over, Cortes chose Cuernavaca as the
place to spend his old age.
The silver barons of the colonial era had their homes here.
Emperor Maximillian and his Carlota spent many a weekend in the town
and might have built their Versailles here if they had had the time.
Today Cuernavaca is a weekend retreat for Mexico City businessmen, a
hangout for actors "between engagements," and home for a growing colony
of retired Americans. Recently the population passed the one million
mark and the airport was opened on the Taxco highway, capable of handling
large jets. This is intended as a "back-up" for times when the increasingly
busy Mexico City airport may be closed or too congested.
A big attraction of the town is the climate. In Cuernavaca, with an
altitude about 2,000 feet lower than Mexico City, the weather is always
spring-like, and it's close to the Federal District.
When not eating, swimming or sleeping, visitors in the town tend to
gather at the plaza, where they may sip a beer at the sidewalk cafe
or lounge as they watch other people watch them. In a way, the atmosphere
is quite European.
The center of town surrounds not one, but two big plazas, next to each
other. Overlooking the larger one is the Palace of Cortes, built by
the conqueror in 1530 and said to be the only monument to him in Mexico.
In recent years, the building was the home of the Morelos State Legislature.
That body now has moved to newer quarters across the street. The structure
houses one of the city's major cultural attractions, the Cuauhnahuac
Museum, with a collection of pre-Colombian, anthropological and Conquest
period exhibits, plus some outstanding Diego Rivera murals.
Cuernavaca also boasts a lovely park, Chapultepec. It has several hot-water
pools, a playground with miniature railway, a zoo, restaurants, and
a lake for boating and canoeing. Needless to say, this is extremely
popular with families on weekends.
The city offers regular theatrical productions in English, put on by
Mexico City's Theatre Workshop. There is a small photographic museum,
El Castillo, across from Las Mañanitas restaurant that gives a glimpse
of the area's fascinating history.
For many years, Cuernavaca has been known as a resort where both Mexicans
and foreigners come to enjoy the clean air, relax and enjoy the incomparable
climate. The city is filled with gardens, tennis courts, fine hotels
offering every commodity and delicious restaurants with menus from around
the world. Within a 40 km radius, sports like water-skiing, fishing,
hunting and mountain climbing can be practiced.
Cuernavaca is close enough to Mexico City that you can simply drive
over for lunch and be back before dusk, traffic permitting. There's
a choice of two roads, one scenic and free, the other a fast toll highway
( but still a lovely drive). It's worth the extra time to go on the
free route and return on the toll road.
For those of you who don´t have a car, there is a bus that runs from
the airport in Mexico City directly to the city of Cuernavaca. The buses
run about every hour and it takes only 1 hour 40 minutes to arrive in
this wonderful city. It is fairly inexpensive, very safe and comfortable.
They even show movies!
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico is a central point from which many tourist
attractions can easily be reached. The pyramid of Teotihuacan, the ancient
Toltec city (90 min.); the colonial city of Puebla (150 min.); Taxco,
the silver city (90 min.); the lake of Tequesquitengo (30 min.); the
illuminated caverns of Cacahuamilpa (60 min.); the pyramids of Xochicalco
(30 min.); the spas of Ixtapan de la Sal (90 min.); the village of Tepoztlan
(30 min.); and the resort center of Oaxtepec (45 min.). For all those
who wish to go to Acapulco, it is less than a 3 hours away.