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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tulum,Quintana Roo

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In this section we will describe the various archaeological sites in Quintana Roo, the musts for tourists and what can they easily ignore; learn some history and get to know its culture.

A worldwide place known for its beautiful beaches and splendid natural sights, Quintana Roo has one of the greatest archaeological sites of the world.
Tulum, a truly fantastic place, full of history and mystical touch makes it a favorite place to visit and enjoy.

How to get to this place?, It is quite simple, Tulum is located 128 kilometers from Cancún, taking the Federal Highway (307) to the south. It takes an hour and 55 minutes or buy a ticket at the bus station or a package tour to Tulum. The two-hour ride is worth. My advice, don’t forget to take a cushion to place it on your seat to be more comfortable and mosquito repellent, wear light clothes and walking shoes for long walks.


Now let's talk about the history of this majestic place. In ancient times was Tulum was known by the name Zama, which means sunrise or dawn. It was one of the most important cities of the thirteenth century and was one of the most important trade routes at the time, it is something like a customs office, where all goods had to be checked.

Translated to Spanish Tulum means “muro” (wall in English), referring to the wall surrounding the castle, this name seems to have been used to name the city when it was already in ruins back in the XIX Century.
This building has a very good structure, it appears that the Mayans were excellent engineers and architects. Tourists can see the buildings that once formed the heart of the city, surrounded by the majestic wall. These three side-walls delimit the boundary of the site, north, south and west. The Mayans had a perfect view of the Caribbean Sea as its eastern part was directly facing the beach.

The castle is the most important building of the complex, because of its huge size. With three entrances with columns decorated with snakes gives them quite a character.
In front of the castle there is a platform that used to be a dance floor. There are two other buildings that complement the ensemble.

The activities that can be done in Tulum are diverse and quite interesting. For obvious reasons, the hiking is the most important of all. Great sceneries to take beautiful pictures to remind of such a place. The beach is so near you´re tempted to try it. And speaking of memories you cannot miss the souvenir shops where you can buy your miniature replica of the castle.

For now, hope this small guide to Tulum can be useful to plan a trip to this lovely place and we’ll continue talking about some other archaleogical sites you will love too.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

El Tajin: A Sacred City of the Totonaca Culture

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From the moment you enter "El Tajin" (which is a prehispanic city that features over 3,017 acres and was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO), you will live a completely cultural experience when you enter this majestic archaeological site, surrounded by a beautiful backdrop where fragrant, exotic plants and lush tropical vegetation perfectly combine to take you a step back to the splendor of this important archaeological site.

A large courtyard, where the performance of "La Danza de los Voladores de Papantla" takes place, will welcome you to this majestic archaeological site. Afterwards, you will see a museum where extraordinary sculpted pieces and important information about El Tajin are housed. The entrance to the ruins are located at the end of the museum, considered one of the most beautiful buildings of Mesoamerican architecture.

El Tajin ("City or Place of Thunder" in Totonaca) is located in the Totonacapan region, in the north of the state of Veracruz. This important political and religious place of the Gulf region was founded in 4 A.D. and reached its peak between 800 and 1200 A.D. The central area of the archeological site is divided into five different parts: "El Grupo Playa del Arroyo", "La Zona Central", "La Gran Xicalcoliuhqui", "El Tajin Chico" and "El Conjunto de las Columnas". These zones include various courtyards, as well as striking architecture, featured in buildings such as "La Piramide de Los Nichos" (The Pyramid of the Niches), which is the main symbol of El Tajin and features 365 niches, a reference to the solar calendar. The area also features the central and southern ball courts and the Temple of the Columns.

The amazing city of El Tajin maintained its economy through agriculture, commerce and the barter of products and service with other towns that are found in the surrounding areas. It was the political capital of the Totonacan region and its governor was "13 Conejo" (13 Rabbit), the personification of Quetzalcoatl, the god that was venerated by the Totonacas. This particular god can be found as a common theme in the paintings, architecture and sculptures of the area. There were different social positions like the social elite, the agricultural sector and the artisans, who were dedicated to the commerce and exchange of their products in the markets.

The paintings and sculptures of the different buildings tell the history and the culture of these people. The importance of the site can be appreciated, especially in the archeological sense, since researchers are still exploring and doing their best to preserve the ruins in excellent conditions.

A theme park called Takilhsukit was built due to the excellent promotion of El Tajin. The park is located 62 miles from the archeological site and holds every year "La Cumbre Tajin", an event where important cultural, artistic, social, sporting and musical events are organized.

After amazing yourself with the wonderful buildings discovered in El Tajin and understanding the grandeur of the Totonaca culture, go to the main entrance where a lot of handcrafts stands are located. Buy beautiful souvenirs like cane flutes, animal figures made with vanilla pods and typical clothes embroidered with bright colors and many other fascinating local handicrafts, crafted by the artisans of the Totonacapan region.

If you are planning a trip to the state of Veracruz, don't miss the opportunity to explore the Totonaca world of El Tajin and its surroundings and discover an important part of the Mexico's past. Enjoy this archeological zone, located only 15 minutes from Papantla, 25 minutes from Poza Rica and 3 hours and a half from the Port of Veracruz.

By Verónica Santamaría

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zacatecas... another Colonial jewel

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Colonial city Zacatecas is located in Mexico’s north-central region, 610 km (378 mi) northwest of Mexico City, 458 km (283 mi) southwest of Monterrey and 318 km (197 mi) north of Guadalajara. The average temperature is 16º C (61º F).

Due to its pink limestone buildings, Zacatecas is one of the most beautiful cities in northern Mexico. Thanks to the city’s splendid history and architecture, the UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Look no further than the majestic cathedral, considered one of the most important expressions of Baroque architecture in Mexico.

As you explore the city’s peculiar urban layout along narrow streets, alleys and plazas, you’ll find countless religious, civic and cultural buildings. You can appreciate these beautiful structures on foot or from 85 meters (280 feet) above on a suspended cable car that crosses the city. The cable car runs to the Cerro de la Bufa, a hill where you’ll find various historical attractions.

Zacatecas was one of the most important mining cities in the nation. The Eden mine, one of the city’s main tourist attractions, offers tours on a train through 600 meters (1,980 feet) of underground tunnels.

In the city’s surrounding areas, thanks to the fascinating geography and rich natural resources, you can do various outdoor activities. The Sierra de Organos, which has served as a setting for several international film productions, and the Sierra de Cardos, near the city of Jerez, are two excellent places to take in the gorgeous outdoor scenery. During your visit, be sure to visit La Quemada, one of the state’s most important archaeological zones.

Without a doubt, Zacatecas is a destination with its own unique charm, beauty and culture.

ARCHAEOLOGY

Close to Zacatecas you’ll find two pre-Hispanic archaeological zones, which reflect the industrious nature of the societies that built them.

La Quemada (Chicomoztoc) – Located 50 km (31 mi) southeast of Zacatecas on Highway 54. Inhabited between 800—1200 AD, this archaeological site stands out for its stone structures built on manmade terraces on the slope of a hill. The most impressive edifices are the Ciudadela, the Salon de Columnas, the Juego de Pelota, the Piramide Votiva, the Palacio and the Cuartel. Open daily from 10:00 to 6:30.

Altavista – Located 55 km (34 mi) northwest of Zacatecas. At this archaeological site the main structures include a rectangular plaza with an altar in the middle of the square, the Salon de las Columnas with 28 columns, and the Pyramide del Sol, which houses a crypt. Open daily from 10:00 to 5:00.

HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE

The rich architecture and history of Zacatecas are priceless, so it comes as no surprise that the city has been one of the most successful Mexican destinations in keeping the old look intact.

Catedral (Cathedral) – Located on Avenida Hidalgo. This is considered one of the most important masterpieces of New Spain Baroque architecture. In 1959 it was granted the status as a basilica-cathedral. The building has three naves and their respective facades. The principal one, with ornamentation that makes it look like a huge stone altarpiece depicting the history of Christianity, is adorned with abundant and showy columns, angels and cornice moldings. Open daily from 6:30 to 1:00and 4:00 to 9:00.

Templo de Santo Domingo – Located at the Plaza Santo Domingo. The sober Baroque façade is certain to grab your attention. Inside are nine quilted wooden altarpieces. In the octagon-shaped sacristy, you’ll find eight beautiful 18th-century paintings created by Francisco Martinez. Open daily from 7:00 to 1:00 and 4:00 to 8:30.

Ex-Templo de San Agustin – Located on Miguel Auza Street. What was once a grandiose façade, originally a Baroque design, is now a tall white wall. The side walls of the structure remain intact, giving you an idea of how the building once looked. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 9:00.

Ex-Convento de San Francisco – Located on Abasolo Street. The most attractive features of this former convent are its majestic architecture and its outstanding collection of paintings by Zacatecan artist Rafael Coronel and his son Juan Coronel. Open Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 to 4:30.

Palacio del Gobierno y Plaza de Armas – Located at 604 Avenida Hidalgo. Inside the Governor’s Palace you’ll see a mural by Antonio Pintor Rodriguez that depicts the history of Zacatecas. Just outside the building is the Plaza de Armas, the most important and largest square in the city.

Teatro Calderon – Located at 501 Avenida Hidalgo. This is Zacatecas’ most brilliant architectural treasure. Its svelteness and strategic location allow you to appreciate its beauty from all angles. The three-tiered façade and the building’s crest give it the appearance of an impressive construction from the classical period. The wide lobby is conservative, yet at the same time elegant, due to its large mirrors. Open daily from 10:00 to 9:00.

MUSEUMS

Art and culture enthusiasts will come across a wide array of museums in the city of Zacatecas that are rich in history and architecture.

Museo Pedro Coronel – Located in the Plazuela Santo Domingo. This museum houses a collection of universal art from famed Zacatecan artist Pedro Coronel. You can also appreciate pre-Hispanic, colonial, Egyptian, African, Greek, Indian, Chinese and Japanese pieces. The museum also exhibits paintings by Picasso, Miro, Dali and Chagall, among others. Open Thursday through Tuesday from 10:00 to 4:30.

Museo Rafael Coronel – Located at the Ex-Convent of San Francisco. Exhibits Mexican popular art, including a fascinating collection of some 10,000 masks, the largest collected work of its kind worldwide. Also intriguing are a series of sketches and architectural designs by Diego Rivera, terra cotta figures of the colonial era, regal parchments and the city banner given to the city by King Phillip II at the end of the 16th century.

Museo Zacatecano – Located at 301 Doctor Hierro Street. This museum has a large and rare collection of Huichol art, making it the only collected work of its kind. On display are more than 150 embroidered pieces, a collection of altarpieces, a 17th- and 18th-century ironworks exhibit, photomurals from Juan Victor Arauz, and a collection called Images of the Huichol World. Open Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 to 4:30.

Museo Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguerez – Located on Colon Street, at the corner of Seminario. This museum exhibits a collection of abstract art donated by Zacatecan artist Manuel Felguerez. The building was remodeled between 1999 and 2001, blending its original architecture with modern elements, making it a truly original museum. Open Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 to 5:00.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Near Zacatecas there are three attractive spots to go climbing, hiking or rappelling. They offer beautiful scenery, excellent terrain and ideal rock formations to put your skills to the test, allowing you to enjoy an exciting adventure.

Sierra de Organos – Located 167 km (103 mi) northwest of Zacatecas on Pan-American Highway 45, heading in the direction of the city of Sombrerete. This ecotourism center covers a 25-km (15-mi) area and is a very attractive spot to do various recreational activities. This place is ideal for hiking, as it has five awe-inspiring routes. The paths allow you to see rock formations that have taken shape from volcanic and seismic activity. Some of the formations look like animal figures, such as a whale, while others have human forms, such as faces.

Sierra de Cardos – Take the federal highway 54 km (33 mi) west of Zacatecas to the city of Jerez, and then take the turnoff 15 km (9 mi) west. Here you’ll find enormous cylindrical, rectangular and flat rock formations, which have varying difficulty levels for rappelling.

Cañon de Juchipala – Located 193 km (119 mi) southwest of Zacatecas off Federal Highway 54. This deep narrow canyon is formed by the Sierra de Montes and the Sierra de Nochistlan. Its altitude reaches 1,300 meters (4,290 feet). For hiking, you can depart from the river in the city of Juchipala. Heading south (downstream) in the direction of the town of Moyahua, you’ll find ideal cliffs for rappelling.

Cerro de la Bufa – Located about 10 minutes from the city of Zacatecas, you can arrive here on the cable car that departs from the Cerro del Grillo. At the Cerro de la Bufa, you can take a walk and enjoy the forest landscape, which is predominantly covered with pines, oaks, Encino oaks and ash and guanacaste trees.

FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS

Many diverse events are celebrated annually in Zacatecas, all of which reflect the culture and devotion of the city’s residents. Such is the case with the Morismas de Bracho, which takes place each year on the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the month of August. Las Lomas de Bracho, north of the city of Zacatecas, hosts the event, during which battles between the Moors and Christians are reenacted. Thousands of people belonging to the brotherhood of St. John the Baptist participate in this historical recreation. Also of interest is the Zacatecas National Fair, which takes place during the second and third weeks of September at various points in the city. During this event the patron virgins of the city, state and nation are honored. The festivities include parades, pilgrimages to the Cerro de la Bufa, sports and cultural events, bull runs, fireworks shows and much more. Other important dates are Sept. 8, the date that the city was founded, and Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day.

ARTS AND CRAFTS

Zacatecan artisans are known for their great talent, skill and originality when it comes to making fantastic works of art in masonry, silver and textiles. Other treasures these artists produce are embroidery, knitted items, woven products, tablecloths, forged steel goods, semi-precious stones and onyx pieces, among others.

GASTRONOMY

The cuisine of Zacatecas is known for its variety and rich flavors. Among the typical dishes you can try are asado de boda (literally wedding barbeque), which is called that because it is commonly served at weddings. It is prepared with small pieces of pork loin and a red ancho chili sauce fried in lard. This dish is often accompanied with Huitzila mezcal, a typical alcoholic beverage from Zacatecas. You can also wash it down with aguamiel (honey water) or tenampa. Other dishes that will please even the most demanding palate are birria de chivo (stewed goat), red pozole, enchiladas, carne adobada (marinated meat) and stuffed gorditas. Popular regional desserts include cocadas (coconut sweets), melcochas (a marshmallow treat), ates de guayaba and membrillo (candied fruits), jamoncillo de leche (a type of milk fudge) and queso de tuna (a sweet made from dried prickly pear).

SHOPPING

One of the places that you have to visit during your stay in Zacatecas is the Centro Comercial Mercado Gonzalez Ortega, located in the Centro Historico. The architecture of this shopping center combines modern and traditional elements with building materials such as steel, ashlar, iron and concrete. At the Centro Platero de Zacatecas, the Tienda La Mujer and the Artesanias store, you can buy sliver jewelry and semi-precious stones, as well as textiles and embroidered items. We also recommend that you check out La Alambra store and visit the Puerta de Hierro and Los Zacatecanos malls. In the city center, on Avenida Hidalgo, you’ll find the famous Guicho, a candy shop where you can buy all kinds of regional sweets.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

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Valle de Bravo is located 67 km east of Toluca, capital of Mexico, and 145 km from Mexico City, has a sub-humid temperate climate and an average annual temperature of 17 º C.
Framed by a large mountain range, which contrasts with the immensity of the artificial lake where you can practice all kinds of water sports: skiing, sailing, kayaking and fishing, this magical town has a strong tourist infrastructure that offers comfortable hotels, restaurants, an equestrian and beautiful golf courses. A stroll through the cobblestone streets will take out their white stucco houses adorned with wrought iron balconies and red tile roofs and are the portals of the square, where you can enjoy delicious traditional snacks, the popular crafts market, numerous boutiques decoration, art galleries and the Parish of St. Francis, patron of the place, which is noteworthy for its original bell tower of the XVIth century.
In its surroundings are beautiful nature reserves like the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary where, from November to March, you will appreciate the wonderful spectacle of migration, the Natural Park or Reserve Bosencheve Monte Alto, ideal for all kinds of adventure sports: mountain climbing rock climbing, biking and camping, as well as free flight hang gliding and paragliding, extreme sports, in recent years, people have made this mexican favorite destination for lovers of adrenaline...

All this and much more it's Valle de Bravo, paradise near Mexico City.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIESIn the vicinity of Valle de Bravo are nature reserves, forest areas surrounded by mountains, national parks and recreation centers where you can make outdoor activities as hiking, horseback riding and climbing.

Rodavento. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, at Km 3.5 of the road Valle de Bravo - the willows. Here you will find a platform for services such as abseiling, routes traveled by mountain bike and ATVs, including practice facilities for archery and horseback riding.

Cascada Velo de Novia. It is located in the division of Avándaro, 15 min. the center of Valle de Bravo. In here you can hike through a wooded road, where suspension bridges become observatories of vegetation and small waterfalls, and horseback riding trails, among other services.

Reserva de Monte Alto. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, the road that leads to the nearby town of Avándaro. On this site footpaths have been created to practice walking and horseback riding. There are several natural viewpoints that provide a beautiful view of the lake.

Cascada Río del Molino. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, the road to Avándaro. It is a propitious place for hiking and family picnics. It has tables, grills, parking, restrooms, restaurants and craft sales.

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. It is located 25 km north of Valle de Bravo on the road to Los Sauces. In this nature reserve can make walking and riding while watching butterflies in their natural refuge.

EXTREME SPORTS
The mountainous area surrounding the Valle de Bravo allows the practice of extreme sports like mountain biking, the hang gliding, paragliding and ultralight.

Reserva Monte Alto. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, the road that leads to the nearby town of Avándaro. On this site you can make runs up to 20km mountain bike, and exciting free flights in hang gliding and paragliding, because it has a takeoff zone, where you'll find instructors who can provide advice and equipment necessary to practice this activity .

Cascada Velo de Novia. It is located in the division of Avándaro, 15 min. the center of Valle de Bravo. In this place you can make mountain biking along their nature trails.

La Peña. It is 20 min. northeast of Valle de Bravo. It is an ideal place to practice free flight paragliding, boasts a stunning take-off area for air sports.

ECOTOURISM
In the vicinity of Valle de Bravo are ideal places for hiking, observing flora and fauna, and photographic safaris. Among the finest are:

Bosencheve National Park. It is located 44 km. north of Valle de Bravo on the road no. 15. Here you can enjoy watching wildlife, as well as walking around the lagoon of El Carmen.

Reserva Monte Alto. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, the road that leads to the nearby town of Avándaro. In this nature reserve you can enjoy watching wildlife, hiking and photo safaris organized through three routes out of town, or, following the paths that are bound Acatila.

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. It is located 25 km north of Valle de Bravo on the road to Los Sauces. In this majestic place can make guided tours and photo safaris organized by the nesting areas of the monarch butterfly.

Avándaro. Located 6 km south of Valle de Bravo. It is a rich wooded valleys and mountains surrounding the lake. In this place you can go hiking in your ways from which you will appreciate the abundance of flora and fauna that identifies the region as well as breathtaking waterfalls.

KAYAK
In Valle de Bravo can also practice kayaking, while enjoying the scenery.
Valle de Bravo Lake. It is located inside the village. It is a beautiful artificial lake with an area of 21 km 2 and a depth of about 40 people there m.En service providers lease the equipment necessary to practice this activity by the tranquil waters of this great body of water.

MOUNTAINEERING
Valle de Bravo is a town surrounded by the Sierras de Temascaltepec, Tenayac, Valle de Bravo and the slopes of surrounding mountains where you can enjoy mountain climbing to enjoy its stunning scenery.

La Peña. It is 20 min. northeast of Valle de Bravo. Here you will find a rocky outcrop where you can climb with ease, have the help of guides who will provide security.

Devil's Rock. It is located 25 miles southeast of Valle de Bravo. It is a cliff of over 600 m with steep walls ideal for practicing mountaineering.

Reserva de Monte Alto. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, the road that leads to the nearby town of Avándaro. Here you will find high ideals to practice climbing and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

FISHINGThe main attraction of Valle de Bravo is the lake where you can enjoy all kinds of water activities like fishing. Outside the village you will find a site where you can also practice this activity.

Valle de Bravo Lake. It is located inside the village. It is a beautiful artificial lake with an area of 21 km 2 and a depth of 40 m. Here you can fish for freshwater species such as sunfish, trout, carp and bass, there are many providers who rent the necessary equipment.

Bosencheve National Park. It is located 44 km north of Valle de Bravo on the road no. 15. In this scenic site may fish as tilapia and carp samples.

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE
The architecture of this destination, full of tradition can be seen on the streets surrounded by houses and buildings dating from the colonial era. Among the most important buildings are:

Temple St. Francis of Assis. It is located in the main square of Valle de Bravo. It is a building made from stone, adobe, wood and tile that retains some of its original attributes, as the baptismal font and a size of San Francisco s.XVII Assisi.

Temple of Santa Maria Ahuacatlán. It is located in the district of Santa Maria Ahuacatlán, in the municipality of Valle de Bravo. Founded in the XVII century, the building housed in the main altar an image of the Black Christ, considered miraculous.

Quisco. It is located in the main square of Valle de Bravo. It is a building that has wooden columns and a red tile roof. It is surrounded by gardens, benches for resting and craft stalls and various Mexican dishes.

GOLFIn Valle de Bravo will find an attractive golf course with beautiful views of the lake.
Avándaro Golf Club. It is located 6 km from the center of Valle de Bravo, in Vega del Rio s / n, Fraccionamiento Avándaro. It has an 18-hole, par 72. Tel: (726) 266 0366. www.grupoavandaro.com.mx

NAVIGATIONIn the Valle de Bravo Lake will find many services that allow you to practice navigation in sailing dinghies or small individual.

Municipal Wharf. It is within the town of Valle de Bravo a few minutes from downtown. On this site you can rent boats and equipment for navigation in the lagoon, from yachts to small boats.

Sailing Club El Zarco. Located at Calle San Gaspar s / n, 5 min. the center of Valle de Bravo. provides rental services and maintenance of yachts and boats Tel: (726) 262 3931.

Yacht Club and Sailing Deportivo La Peña. Prolongation is located on 16th September. It serves as a pension for boats and provides maintenance services for all types of vessels. Tel: (726) 262 0461.

Club Náutico El Santuario. Located within 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo on the road Colorines km 4.5, Colonia San Gaspar del Lago. Pension serves boats, dinghies and yachts, offers equipment rental services for water sports. Tel: (726) 262 3981.

FUN AND LEISURE
Valle de Bravo has several resorts and recreational facilities ideal for fun in the company of family.

Alameda del Pueblo. It is within the town of Valle de Bravo, just minutes from downtown. It is a park with playgrounds, has a circuit for bikes and skates.

Rodavento. It is located 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo, in the road km 3.5 Valle de Bravo - The Saucos.En this place you will find large areas for organizing picnics, hikes, family games and bike rides. It has a bike path with four levels of difficulty with natural obstacles that will be a challenge for children and adults.

Aquatic Park Ixtapan de la Sal is located southeast of Valle de Bravo, on highway No.. 55. It is a beautiful place that has two-lane giant slides in a drop of 150 m, wave pool, hot springs and all kinds of water recreation.

MUSEUMSIn Valle de Bravo, there are several museums that show the life and work of famous people, and various cultural events and activities.

Casa de la Cultura. Just a few steps from downtown, has a library, an auditorium and several multipurpose rooms where temporary art exhibitions are presented. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:00 hrs.

Cultural Centre "Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza." Located on Calle Joaquín Arcadio No. Pagaza. 201. Dedicated to the illustrious poet of the same name, this place preserves all types of objects that were owned, as well as exhibitions of art works by regional artists, national and international. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 hrs.

SPASIn Valle de Bravo find large tourist hotels that offer spa services with therapies treatments ranging from ancient to the most advanced methods for skin care and mind.

Spa Sanctuary. Located within 10 min. the center of Valle de Bravo on the road Colorines km 4.5, Colonia San Gaspar del Lago, in the hotel of the same name. It offers over 63 types of therapies including massages, facials, hydrotherapy treatments, couples massage, oxygenation and hot stones. Tel: (726) 262 9100.

Spa Avándaro. It is located at km 24 of the San Francisco de los Ranchos, Colonia Tenantongo. Its main therapies include the application of massage and facials.
Tels: (726) 266 0370 and (726) 266 0366.

Spa Rodavento. It is located at km 3.5 of road Valle de Bravo, Los Sauces, within the prestigious hotel of the same name. It offers various types of massage and Swedish, shiatsu, sports, holistic, reflexology, lymphatic drainage and massage for children, and a bathhouse (steam bath Indian tradition). Tels: (726) 251 4182 and (726) 251 4185.

ARTS AND CRAFTSIn Valle de Bravo find and openwork embroidery, made by women Mazahua, pottery, leather and glazed earthenware, including craft shows, which may be purchased at the Craft Market, located on Avenida Juarez.

GASTRONOMYEvery corner of this picturesque destination, where the smells and colors that characterizes the food is wrapped in pleasant surprises, must be walked without a doubt. In the main square of Valle de Bravo will enjoy the traditional Mexican dishes and its famous wáter ice of the most varied artisanal flavors. Other typical dishes are prepared with trucha aroiris y robina negra, in addition to the artichokes are harvested in this region of the State of Mexico. It will be interesting to visit the market and discover the wonders that nature provides a culinary wealth of this place.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oaxaca...

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Oaxaca City is located in Mexico’s southern region in the middle of a zone surrounded by four valleys. Behind the valleys lie three important mountain ranges, which keep the climate mild with an average temperature of 18º C (64º F).
In this city, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, you can admire the beautiful architecture of the buildings in the Centro Historico (Historic Center), which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The edifices include la Catedral (The Cathedral), el Templo y ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzman (The Temple and Ex-Convent of Saint Domingo de Guzman), la Basilica de la Soledad (The Basilica of Solitude) and el Teatro Macedonio Alcala (The Macedonio Alcala Theater), among other magnificent colonial and 19th-century constructions.

As you visit the main plaza, the numerous establishments surrounding the Historic Center, and the traditional markets, such as Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre, you’ll find all kinds of crafts that come from various regions of Oaxaca. Among the most popular crafts are the colorful alebrijes, swords, wool garments and beautiful black pottery. At some of the more traditional places you can try the delicious local fare, such as tamales, mole dishes and Oaxacan cheese. Another favorite is Oaxaca’s famous mezcal, a regional alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant.

In the city’s surrounding areas, you can visit archaeological zones Monte Alban and Mitla, pre-Hispanic capitals of the Zapotec and Mixtec people. If you visit the town of Santa Maria de Tule, you can marvel at the famous Arbol del Tule (Tule Tree). What’s more, the magnificent natural scenery at Parque Nacional Benito Juarez and the spectacular fossilized waterfalls at Hierve el Agua are certain to impress you. All of these places are relatively close to Oaxaca City, one of Mexico’s most charming cities.

ECOTOURISM
In Oaxaca City’s surrounding areas you’ll find nature reserves and other areas that are ideal for observing flora and fauna. The experience puts you in direct contact with nature, allowing you to enjoy the excellent scenery of the Oaxacan sierras.

Santa Maria de Tule – Located 12 km (7 mi) east of Oaxaca City off Highway 190. Here you’ll find the legendary Arbol de Tule (Tule Tree), which is more than 2,000 years old and measures 42 meters (139 feet) in diameter, 40 meters (132 feet) tall and 750m3 in volume. Some of the branches appear to have the forms of human silhouettes, animals and fantastic creatures.

Sierra de Ixtlan – Located 68 km (42 mi) northeast of Oaxaca off Highway 175 in the direction of Ixtlan de Juarez. This beautiful place has more than 6,000 plant varieties, many of which are indigenous species. It is the ideal spot for researchers and nature enthusiasts.

Teotitlan del Valle – Located 27 km (17 mi) southeast of Oaxaca City off Highway 190. This is the perfect spot for bird watching, particularly during the month of January when it’s common to see herons, kingfishers and other migratory birds from Canada.

Hierve el Agua – In addition to the incredible scenery of the sulfuric springs, here you can also observe endemic flora and fauna.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Oaxaca City’s environs offer magnificent natural settings where you can go trekking and horseback riding. The experience puts you in close contact with nature and allows you to learn about the customs and traditions of some of the communities that you’ll visit.

Santa Ana del Valle – Located 34 km (21 mi) east of Oaxaca off Highway 190 in the direction of Tlacolula. This ecotourism route passes through various communities and the archaeological zones of Tlacolula Valley.

Parque Nacional Benito Juarez (Benito Juarez National Park) – Located 7 km (4 mi) north of Oaxaca City off Highway 190. This national park covers 2,737 hectares (6,760 acres), including the Cerro del Fortin, which hosts the annual regional dances of La Guelaguetza. At this place you can go trekking or horseback riding along various paths that allow you to enjoy one of the best views of the city.

Hierve el Agua – In addition to admiring the natural wonders here, you can also go trekking or horseback riding on safe trails that lead to sulfuric springs.

ARCHAEOLOGYNear Oaxaca City you can visit ancient ceremonial centers of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, the people that inhabited the territory of present-day Oaxaca during the pre-Hispanic era. Among the most important sites are:

Monte Alban – Located 10 km (6 mi) southwest of Oaxaca City off the state highway. This was the most important pre-Hispanic capital in the Oaxaca Valley region during the classical period (400—800 AD), when it was inhabited by the Zapotecs. The area was abandoned in 800 AD and later became occupied by the Mixtecs during the postclassical period (1,300—1521 AD). The Mixtecs used some of the existing constructions as tombs for their rulers. Among the most important constructions at this site are: la Gran Plaza, which is surrounded by various structures that have been identified as rooms, burial sites and tombs; el Juego de la Pelota; el Edificio de los Danzantes; el Palacio; Plataforma Sur and Tumba 7, where a remarkable treasure was discovered that is currently on display at the Oaxaca Museum of Culture. Other significant structures include buildings J, G, H and I, where it is believed that astronomy was practiced. Because of its important cultural development and its monumental architecture, the UNESCO declared this archaeological zone a World Heritage Site in 1987. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Mitla – Located 48 km (30 mi) southeast of Oaxaca City off Federal Highway 190. This place was one of the most important Zapotec ceremonial centers. It reached its height in 1200 AD when the Mixtecs moved in and built some of the most important structures. Among those is the Grupo de las Columnas, where you’ll find the Gran Plaza de Pezelao, one of the most beautiful architectural complexes of Mesoamerica. This construction has multiple frets, an identifying characteristic of Mixtec architecture. Open daily from 10:00 to 5:00.

Dainzu – Located 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Oaxaca City along Highway 190 in the direction of Istmo de Tehuantepec. The name of this ancient Zapotec ceremonial center means Organ Hill. It was inhabited from 600 – 1200 AD. The architectural complex includes three edifices linked by stairs, terraces, courtyards and rooms. One of the more interesting sights to see here are carvings that depict the violent activities of a ball game.

Lambityeco – Located 28 km (17 mi) southeast of Oaxaca City of Highway 190. This site of Zapotec influence reached its height between 700 – 750 AD. Its principal structures are the Palacio de los Caciques, a tomb where the late rulers were buried, and the Palacio de los Sacerdotes, where you can see two large stucco masks with the image of Cocijo, the Zapotec rain god. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Yagul – Located 36 km (22 mi) southeast of Oaxaca City off Highway 190 in the direction of the Istmo de Tehuatepec. This urban center reached its height in 800 AD. It was one of the most important Zapotec capitals. Here you’ll see numerous courtyards, rooms and tombs laid out on a large platform. You’ll also get a look at the remains of the Palacio de los Seis Patios and the Juego de Pelota, considered the largest ball court in the Oaxaca region and the second largest of Mesoamerica. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE
As you walk through the streets of Oaxaca City you’ll discover beautiful civic and religious buildings, particularly in the Historic Center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO due to the artistic and cultural value of the following buildings:

Plaza de la Constitucion – Located between Hidalgo, Trujano, Flores Magon and Bustamente streets, in the Historic Center. The main sights here are the corridors lining the plaza and the art nouveau-style pavilion, which takes you back to the Porfirian era at the beginning of the 20th century.

Palacio de Gobierno – Located at Avenida Guerrero and Miguel Cabrera, this building with a neoclassical façade houses an important collection of murals by artist Arturo Garcia Bustos. The murals chronicle the history of pre-Hispanic Oaxaca, the conquest and independence. They also depict the formation of the universe and ancient indigenous beliefs. Open daily from 10:00 to 6:00.

Alameda de Leon – Located on Independence Street in the Historic Center. This place was once a small plaza called Cantaros (pitchers) because it was an area where potters sold their wares. Alameda was inaugurated as a garden in 1843 in honor of General Antonio de Leon.

Catedral (Cathedral) – Located beside the Alameda de Leon in the Historic Center. This is the city’s most important church. Construction began in 1535 as a headquarters for bishops and it was finished in 1574. The Baroque-style façade has sculptures of Catholic saints, which surround a beautiful relief depicting the Assumption of Mary. It is a replica of a painting by El Tiziano. Inside you can admire numerous works of art, images and relics of the 19th century, such as the remains of the famous Cross of Huatulco, a legendary symbol of faith for Oaxaca’s coastal residents. Open daily from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Templo y Ex Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzman – Located on Macedonio Alcala Street in the Historic Center. Considered one of the architectural marvels of the city, this complex stands out for the temple’s façade, which has three main bodies. Inside the recently remodeled Baroque architecture features a principal altarpiece in the nave, 10 chapels and a large dome with 104 paintings of religious martyrs. The paintings were done between the 16th and 18th centuries. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 8:00.

Templo de San Felipe Neri – Located on Avenida Independencia, at Tinoco y Palacios Street in the Historic Center. The Baroque-style façade is constructed with three main bodies and a crest. Former Mexican President Benito Juarez and Margarita Maza, a Oaxaca native who helped the poor, were married at this site in the 19th century. Open daily from 9:00 to 6:00.

Basilica de la Soledad – Located on Avenida Independencia, near the Jardin Socrates. This 17th-century construction is one of the most important examples of religious architecture during the Viceregal era in Oaxaca. Open daily from 9:00 to 6:00.

MUSEUMS
Oaxaca City has a wide variety of museums with an extensive collection of archaeological, historical and artistic pieces from Oaxaca. Among the most important are:

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Contemporary Art Museum) – Located at 202 Macedonio Alcala, north of the Historic Center. This legendary building, which was allegedly inhabited by conquistador Hernan Cortes, is currently one of the most important examples of civic architecture during Oaxaca’s Viceregal era.

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca (Museum of Oaxacan Culture) – Located inside the Ex-Convent de Santo Domingo de Guzman, on Macedonio Alcala Street, at the corner of Adolfo Gurrion. Part of the exhibit at this museum focuses on an important collection of regional pre-Hispanic archaeological pieces. Archaeologist Alfonso Caso found many of the objects at Tumba 7 in Monte Alban. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 8:00.

Museo de Arte Prehispanico Rufino Tamayo (Pre-Hispanic Museum of Art) – Located at 503 Avenida Morelos, this museum houses an important collection of nearly 1,000 pre-Hispanic objects that were collected over a 20-year period by famed Oaxacan painter Rufino Tamayo. Open Monday through Wednesday from 10:00 to 2:00 and 4:00 to 7:00, and Sunday from 10:00 to 8:00.

Museo Casa de Juarez (Juarez Museum) – Located at 609 6a. calle de Garcia Vigil. In the rooms at this museum you can see some of the personal items of former Mexican President Benito Juarez, such as documents from the War of Independence, the Reform movement and the era of French intervention. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00to 7:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 5:00.

Centro Fotografico Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Photography Museum) – Located at 302 Murguia Street. In this 18th-century house, you’ll find photo exhibits, retrospectives and a library that includes the works of Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Open Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 8:00 and Saturday from 9:30 to 3:00.

Instituto de Artes Graficas de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Graphic Arts Institute) – Located at 507 Macedonio Alcala. Donated by painter Francisco Toledo, this graphic arts institute houses a collection of renowned Mexican and international artists, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Rufino Tamayo and Alfredo Zalce, among others. Open Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 8:00.

FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONS
Oaxaca City has numerous festivities that are the product of 500 years of traditions and syncretism, thanks to the blending of indigenous and Spanish cultures. One of the most important celebrations is the Guelaguetza, a celebration of pre-Hispanic agriculture. At the end of July, the region’s pre-Hispanic people would thank the gods for the rains and harvests. The present-day festivity is a colorful fiesta that brings together residents of indigenous communities. During the celebration they wear traditional garb and dance to show their appreciation for the help they have received from the gods. Other important celebrations are Todos los Santos and Los Fieles Difuntos, a Day of the Dead festivity that takes place on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. This is the time of year when the living pay respect to their deceased loved ones. They do so by placing flowers at gravesites and offering food and drinks to the dead. Noche de Rabanos, another key date, is celebrated on Dec. 23 at the Plaza de la Constitucion. City residents come together on this special day to display curious radish sculptures.

ARTS AND CRAFTS
In Oaxaca City’s plazas, stores and traditional markets you’ll find all kinds of crafts that are the fruit of 2,000 years of creation and evolution. They come from various regions in the state of Oaxaca. Among the many objects you’ll find are alebrijes, which are colorful wooden figures of fantastic creatures. You can also purchase swords, elegant jewelry and lovely block pottery, which you can buy in the Benito Juarez market on the corner of Cristobal Colon and 20 de Noviembre, or at the market of Artesanias, which you’ll find at the southern end of the market on J.P. Garcia and Zargoza streets.

GASTRONOMY
Oaxaca City is famous for its strong culinary tradition, which is a fusion of indigenous and Spanish cuisine. Among the most popular dishes you can try are the tamales, prepared with corn dough and stuffed with mole or pork and wrapped in banana leaves. Mole, a rich mixture of spices, grains and chili peppers, is the king of Oaxacan cuisine. It comes in seven different varieties, depending on the kinds of ingredients and chili peppers used when it is prepared. Normally it is used as a sauce to top chicken or pork dishes and it comes accompanied with rice and beans. Also popular is Oaxaca’s famous cheese, a stringy cheese that is rolled into the form of a ball. You can eat this as a snack or it may come melted in various dishes. For more eccentric tastes, you can try the fried grasshoppers or maguey worms in salsa. These peculiar treats are usually served in tacos. Wash it down with some delicious agua de arroz (rice water) or agua de chia (sage water). There’s also the traditional tejate, a mix of cocoa and corn. For an after-dinner drink, order a shot of mezcal, a regional alcoholic beverage made in Oaxaca from the maguey plant.

SPASIn Oaxaca City you can enjoy the exclusive spa services offered by the city’s best hotels. Experienced staff members will give you a relaxing massage with oils and fragrances while they prepare a temazcal steam bath (a traditional pre-Hispanic steam bath). The treatment occurs in a special room heated by rocks where aromatic herbs are vaporized. The experience will help you rid your body and mind of toxins.

Petit Spa – Located at 21 Avenida Hidalgo in the Hotel Hacienda Los Laurales. At this exclusive facility you can enjoy select treatments of aromatherapy, therapeutic massages and a temazcal steam bath, which allows you to recuperate the energy you’ll need to continue touring the city and its environs.

Casa de las Bugambilias – Located at 402 Reforma in the Casa de las Bugambilias Hotel. Offers the best treatments and massages, such as temazcal steam baths for the relaxation of the mind and body.
Plan Your Adventure to Oaxaca!!!... CLICK HERE for Flight & Hotel

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Michoacan...

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Located in Mexico’s southwestern region in an area with abundant natural beauty, thanks to the volcanic rock formations of the Sierra Madre del Sur.
In this territory you’ll discover vast natural areas and national parks such as Cupatitzio Canyon and the Jose Maria Morelos park. At these places you can go camping, do ecotourism outings and extreme sports, including mountain bike riding and paragliding. Also of interest is the protected Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, where the fir forest serves as nesting grounds for the monarch butterfly. In the state of Michoacan you’ll also find a wide variety of cultural events, some of which have many years of tradition, such as the Day of the Dead celebration at Lake Patzcuaro and on its nearby islands. There you’ll see some of the most visited churches in the state, try the excellent local cuisine and find all kinds of regional crafts at the stores and markets. Later, you can check out the nearby archaeological zones of Tzintzuntzan and Ihuatzio. In the city of Morelia, the state capital, you’ll see magnificent buildings in the Historic Center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The notable edifices include the Cathedral and the Palacio de Clavijero, both of which remind visitors of the city’s fascinating history. Other interesting sites are the Hospital de la Huatapera de Uruapan and the Zamora Cathedral. On Michoacan’s coast you’ll find gorgeous beaches like Playa Azul and Lazaro Cardenas, which offer lodging and restaurants, and Maruata, Michoacan’s most famous beach and the nesting grounds for the black sea turtle.

MORELIA
Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan, is a beautiful city built during Mexico’s Viceregal era. It is located in the state’s northern region, 303 km (187 mi) west of Mexico City. It has a warm, semi-humid climate with rain during the summer and an average temperature of 20º C (68º F).

The city offers a pleasant and hospitable atmosphere, as well as many architectural treasures in its Historic Center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. There you’ll find numerous colonial-style constructions, such as the Palacio Nacional and La Catedral (The Cathedral), a Baroque-style structure built with pink ashlars. Morelia also hosts important cultural events, such as international film and music festivals.

Thanks to its strategic location, many tourists use the city as a base before heading out to nature reserves, such as the monarch butterfly sanctuary and the Parque Nacional Jose Maria Morelos (The Jose Maria Morelos National Park).

Morelia also is a place where the traditions of the Tarascan Indians persist, as seen in the traditional attire they wear, the handicrafts they make and the historical importance of the archaeological ruins at Ihuatzio and Tzintzuntzan. While in Morelia, don’t forget to try the traditional Purepecha dishes, such as corundas and uchepos (regional tamales). You can also indulge in such local fare as enchiladas placeras and ates (candied fruit). So don’t wait any longer: Come and experience the joy, traditions and colorful atmosphere of Morelia.

SURROUNDING AREAS, TOURING AND NOTABLE PLACES
Tranvia de la Calle Real (The Calle Real Trolley) – The trolley’s route passes along various streets in Morelia’s Historic Center and then heads south toward the Benito Juarez Zoo. It continues along Avenida Camelinas until it reaches Avenida Acueducto. This avenue leads to Bosque Cuauhtemoc (Cuauhtemoc Forest). Further ahead, you’ll arrive at Las Rosas Conservatory and the Candy Museum, where you can see how Morelia’s mouth-watering candy is made. At 1740 Avenida Acueducto, in the Chapultepec Norte neighborhood, the trolley departs Tuesday through Sunday at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30. The tour runs about 45 minutes.

Tranvia Kuanari (The Kuanari Trolley) – This trolley’s departure point is 132 Jose Cruz Rodriguez Loaiza Street in the Dr. Miguel Silva neighborhood. The tour lasts 45 minutes to two hours. The trolley buses depart every hour between 9:00 and 7:00 from Tuesday through Sunday.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
For those who like to admire beautiful natural scenery, in the surrounding areas of Morelia you can go horseback riding along the shores of lakes or rivers. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, you can descend down a steep cliff, climb a high mountain or explore an amazing cave. In short, you’ll always find the ideal spot to enjoy your favorite recreational activity.

Cerro Hueco – Located in Quiroga, 48 km (30 mi) northeast of Morelia off Highway 15. This protected area is known as an ideal location to go cave diving. Nearby, you’ll find adventures in marvelous caves just waiting to be explored.

Parque Nacional Jose Maria Morelos – Located 26 km (16 mi) east of Morelia off Highway 15. The rich ecosystem in this park’s 4,324-hectare (10,680-acre) pine and Encino oak forest invites you to take a long horseback ride and take in the unforgettable scenery of this natural area.

Peña Blanca – Located in Charo, 24 km (15 mi) northeast of Morelia off Highway 126. On the outskirts of the town you’ll find Peña Blanca, an ideal spot for rock climbing and rappelling. The large rock formations that you’ll see here present quite an exciting and entertaining challenge for climbers.

Cuto de la Esperanza – Take the Tacicuaro turnoff, which is 18 km (11 mi) northeast of Morelia off Highway 15. This is the ideal destination for cave diving. Here you’ll find the Grutas de la Escalera, a spectacular rock formation that provides a true challenge for thrill-seekers.

HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE
Due to the notable Baroque- and Plateresque-style architectural treasures built during the 16th and 17th centuries, Morelia’s Historic Center was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Often referred to as the soul of Mexico, the architecture of Morelia stands as a testament to the city’s religious influences and its unique blending of styles that have come together over centuries.

Catedral (The Cathedral) – Located on Avenida Francisco I. Madero in the Historic Center. Neoclassical ornamentation predominates this impressive Baroque-style structure built with pink ashlars. Constructed between 1660 and 1774, it houses one of the city most venerated images, a dried maize sculpture of the Señor de la Sacristia. You’ll also see several precious paintings in the vestry and the chapter house.

Acueducto (Aqueduct) – Located on Avenida Acueducto and Calzada Madero in Morelia. One of the city’s most emblematic structures, this aqueduct has 253 Baroque-style arcs. Bishop Friar Antonio de San Miguel ordered its construction in 1785 as a means to bring potable water to the city and to create jobs for indigenous people.

Antigua Alhondiga – Located on Abasolo Street, at Corregidora in the Historic Center. This Baroque building, which was once the city’s wheat depository during the Colonial era, was rebuilt into a tribunal in 1847.

Antigua Casa de Don Manuel Garcia Obeso – Located on Avenida Madero Oriente and Morelos Norte in the Historic Center. The neoclassical façade and Baroque interior will draw your attention to this building, which was constructed during the second half of the 18th century. Some of the first meetings to plot Mexico’s independence were held in this house.

Antigua Casa del Diezmo – Located on Avenida Madero Poniente and Benito Juarez in the Historic Center. In this Baroque-style building, they used to collect tithes contributed by parishioners. Currently, it is a bank.

Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco – Located at 129 Fray San Juan de San Miguel Street, at Humboldt, in the Historic Center. The Franciscans began the construction of this Plateresque-style building in 1531. Since 1973, it has operated as the Michoacan Crafts House. Open daily from 9:00 to 3:00 and 5:30 to 8:00.

Palacio Clavijero – Located on Avenida Francisco I. Madero and Nigromante in the Historic Center. This grand Baroque-style building was constructed in the middle of the 17th century and it is considered one of the city’s most important architectural achievements.

ARTS AND CRAFTS
In Morelia you’ll be fortunate enough to find a wide variety of crafts, such as ceramics, basketwork, tableware, glazed pottery, jewelry and lacquered boxes, shallow bowls, iron products and table linen. One of the most interesting techniques used is maque, designs made on wood surfaces. This ancient craft brings together the use of pre-Hispanic tools and techniques brought over from the Old World. Currently, they are among the most sought-after handicrafts due to their fine finish. To buy these and other popular art from Morelia, you can visit the Mercado de Dulces y Artesanias, where you’ll also find a wide offering of some of Michoacan’s famous regional sweets, such as the traditional and tasty morelianas and charamuscas.

PATZCUARO...
A place of culture and tradition. Here we offer two different tours: the first one (Traditional Patzcuaro) consists of strolling around the most important attractions of the city and the second (The Magic of Patzcuaro) visits the small and charming towns in the surrounding areas. We recommend both tours for an authentic Patzcuaro experience.

The first tour begins at the House of Eleven Patios, where you can find regional crafts for sale and you can watch the artisans work. Then, we’ll visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Health, where you can admire the beautiful image of the Virgen de la Salud (Virgin of Health), Patzcuaro’s patron saint. You can also stop by the Museum of Popular Arts and Industries, which for some years hosted the Colegio de San Nicolas, the oldest college in America. We’ll later visit a seventeenth century ex-Jesuit convent.

Continue with the Temple of San Francisco, one of the oldest in the city and then admire the Juan O’Gorman murals at the Gertrudis Bocanegra Library. Visit the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga, one of the most beautiful squares in the Americas. We’ll go to Janitzio, a famous island in Lake Patzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, an archaeological site and craft market, and finally to Quiroga, famous for its handicraft shops.

The second tour starts with Tupataro and its beautiful sixteenth century temple. On to Cuanajo, which is famous for its colorful wooden furniture as well as Santa Clara del Cobre, with its many copper workshops. Then, admire the architectural beauty of downtown Patzcuaro. We’ll visit Tocuaro where you can find the famous wooden masks that this town is known for and we’ll continue to Erongaricuaro, a picturesque village. We’ll visit the mescal distillery in Oponguio, Santa Fe de la Laguna, a real Purepecha village and Tzintzuntzan, the place of hummingbirds as well as the first capital of Michoacan.

I know it's difficult for you to learn the "purepechas" name, but i assure you are magical places...

Check the magic of Pátzcuaro Tour

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Akumal... Pearl of the Caribbean Sea

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The more you know about Akumal, Mexico, the more excited you will be when you vacation in this land of paradise. Therefore, in the months or weeks leading up to your journey you should spend a litle time doing research so that you can learn more about Akumal.
To find out more about Akumal, Mexico, you can easily turn to the Internet. The Internet has a wealth of information, providing historical and accurate information as well as tips and reviews from other travelers who have taken a trip to the area. This site, AkumalVacation.com, has many interesting stories about the Akumal Mexico region. This type of information can provide all you need to know about many parts of your vacation, including the great places to eat, stay, shop, and visit. We will tell you what we like best and what to watch out for, while the other places will tell you all about other locations that you plan to visit.

In addition to this type of information, you can also learn more through Akumal hotel, resort, and tourism sites. Each site will provide you with pictures of their facilities, a list of local tours and activities, and usually, a short history of the town. They may also provide information about items that they provide, which will not only help you learn more about Akumal, but also help you plan your daily agenda while on vacation.

Although their purpose is to get you into the area, the information that they give you about their property and the area needs to be correct or they will begin to lose business. Therefore, you can usually believe the information from a website, especially the information that they portray about local actitivies and the history of the area.

Alternatively you can learn more about Akumal is through a travel agent. It is the responsibility of a travel agent to know a wealth of things about their main destinations and to be able to give you the information. Even if you do not expect to book your trip through a travel agent, you can still find some information through them.

A trip to Akumal and the Riviera Maya area of Mexico would not be complete without a visit to one of the many Mayan ruins in the area. This area is steeped in the history of this venerable civilization that still holds sway over the art, cooking and culture of the region today. Akumal and its surrounding area were important trade routes for the Mayans and historians are continuing to uncoverstill uncovering many ruins of this once stalwart civilization.

One of the most popular ruins to visit not only near Akumal but in all of Mexico is Tulum. There are also the Coba and Xel-Ha which are all conveniently located near Akumal and other areas in the Riviera Maya region. They are accessible by car or if you prefer, you can arrange to take a taxi.

A trip to Akumal, Mexico can be an educational and bonding experience for the whole family. Explore the history and the culture of the land. Learn about the sea and what activities you can enjoy there. Plan your trip based on the information that interests you most. The more you learn about Akumal, the more fascinating it will be once you get there.

About the Author:
M Gravlee is a travel writer based in Akumal, Mexico.

Akumal... a unique gem of Mexico!!!

Akumal is located just one hour and ten minutes (about 100 Km) south of Cancun on the Mexican Caribbean coastline of the Yucatan peninsula. Akumal is in the state of Quintana Roo. Akumal is considered to be secret getaway for adventurers who do not want high profile towns like Cancun and dare to venture to small towns down the Mayan Riviera coastline.

Akumal, Mexico has managed to avoid the trappings of a big city and safeguarded its relaxed, laid back atmosphere in sharp contrast to booming towns such as Playa Del Carmen and more famous Cancun. Riviera Maya, on the east coast of Yucatan Peninsula is a tropical paradise with lush green jungles, turquoise-blue waters and white beaches. Akumal even today imbues characteristics of a quaint Mexican town with a rich history and an eclectic mix of Mexicans and expatriates. This quite unlike the many pre-planned resort communities mushrooming on the Riviera Maya coast in recent years.

The waters near Akumal are blessed with abundant tropical fish. A sunken Spanish galleon and coral gardens make Akumal a much sought after destination for divers from around the globe. Akumal's reef is part of the Mesoamerican Reef that stretches over 720 kilometers along the Yucatan Peninsula into Honduras. The reef popularly known as “Jewel of the Caribbean” is home to a high diversity of marine life consisting of corals, fishes and colorful flora, mammals, and reptiles, many of which can be sighted in Akumal Mexico 's bays. The best part is one doesn't have o be diver to experience the breathtaking beauty of Akumal's aquatic wildlife. Wherever you may stay, snorkeling is just a stone throw distance from your room.

Akumal is on the shores of two bays - Half Moon bay and Akumal bay. Both bays are well known for a flourishing sea life. Few years back, Greater Akumal has been extended to include Jade Bay, South Akumal, and Akumal Aventuras. Puerto Aventuras, 15 minutes north of Akumal, has a museum, founded by Pablo Bush Romero and his CEDAM diving explorations, which houses relics from the history of Akumal Mexico.

Akumal is considered to be secret getaway for adventurers who do not want high profile towns like Cancun and dare to venture to small towns down the Mayan Riviera coastline. Akumal even today imbues characteristics of a quaint Mexican town with a rich history and an eclectic mix of Mexicans and expatriates. This quite unlike the many pre-planned resort communities mushrooming on the Riviera Maya coast in recent years.

Yalku lagoon a small series of lagoons leading out to the sea once served as a trading route for ancient Mayans. Its tranquil waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Yalku also hosts large variety of avian population which is popular with bird enthusiasts. Tourists can also kayaking, catamaran rides, deep sea fishing excursions and jungle tours.

The reef popularly known as “Jewel of the Caribbean” is home to a high diversity of marine life consisting of corals, fishes and colorful flora, mammals, and reptiles, many of which can be sighted in Akumal Mexico 's bays. The best part is one doesn't have o be diver to experience the breathtaking beauty of Akumal's aquatic wildlife. Wherever you may stay, snorkeling is just a stone throw distance from your room.

Akumal has something for everyone. So for your next vacation, choose something not run of the mill. Choose Akumal!

Author: Tom Budniak
http://www.articlesbase.com

http://akumalvacation.com/Akumal/

http://yourtravelarticles.com/

Choose yourTour in Riviera Maya and ask for Akumal

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QUINTANA ROO

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Located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo offers the beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, top-notch tourist resorts, white-sand beaches, marvelous ecological reserves and ancient Mayan ruins.
Here you can visit Cancun, an important destination for national and international tourists, which has a 30-km (19-mi) stretch of beaches and an impressive hotel zone. Isla Mujeres offers all kinds of tourist attractions, including pre-Hispanic ruins, the remains of an old hacienda and a modern aquatic park where you can go snorkeling among hundreds of colorful fish that inhabit the coral reefs. Nearby lies Cozumel, Mexico’s largest island, where you can go kayaking through mangroves and scuba diving along the Great Mayan Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. The reef runs through the Parque Marino Nacional de Arrecifes de Cozumel and the Parque Natural de Chankanaab.

Along the Caribbean coast, in the direction of state capital Chetumal, you’ll find numerous tourist attractions in the Mayan Riviera, which is lined with luxurious resorts, exclusive spas and golf courses. In this region you can visit the archaeological zones of Coba and Tulum, a walled city overlooking the sea. At Playa del Carmen, the Mayan Riviera’s cosmopolitan city, you’ll find excellent tourist facilities at ecotourism parks Xcaret and Xel-Ha, and at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

ISLA MUJERES

Located off the coast of Cancun, in the state of Quintana Roo, Isla Mujeres is one of the main islands of the Mexican Caribbean. The island is 8 km (5 mi) long and 2 km (1.2 mi) wide. It has a pleasant tropical climate, with an average temperature of 27º C (81º F).

On this island, which is rich in culture and natural resources, you’ll find numerous tourist attractions, including beaches with fine sand, archaeological ruins like the Templo de Ixchel, and historic buildings, such as the Hacienda Mundaca. For outdoor recreational activities you can visit the Parque Marino Garrafon (Garrafon Marine Park), the ideal place to go scuba diving or snorkeling in coral reef areas inhabited by hundreds of colorful fish. The island has top-notch hotels with beach clubs offering amazing views of the Caribbean Sea. In the downtown area you’ll find a wide variety of stores where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs, such as beachwear, T-shirts and crafts made of wood and conch shells. As for the cuisine, the restaurants serve international and local fare. At night, in the bars and nightclubs, you can enjoy reggae and Afro-Caribbean music until the wee hours of the morning.

COZUMEL
Cozumel, a Caribbean island 19 km (12 mi) east of the Quintana Roo coast, is Mexico’s largest island with a territorial extension of 647.33 km2 (258.93 mi2). The average temperature is 26º C (79º F) and the climate is warm and humid, with strong rainfall in the summer.

The island is covered with lush jungle vegetation and surrounded by rocky coastlines, white-sand beaches, lagoons and mangroves. The waters encircling the island have an impressive group of coral reefs that are part of the Great Mayan Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. Marine reserves of great ecological importance, such as Parque Marino Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel (Cozumel National Reef Marine Park) and Parque Natural Chankanaab (Chankanaab Nature Park), were created to protect areas with a wide diversity of marine life, and they have drawn the attention of researchers and marine biologists such as Jacques Cousteau. Moreover, they are great places to do scuba diving and ecotourism outings.

The island’s only town is San Miguel de Cozumel, which has a relaxed Caribbean atmosphere and Mexico’s most important international cruise dock. Tourists flock to Cozumel looking for the peace, quiet and comfort that the island’s hotel zone offers. During your stay, you can also enjoy excellent golf courses, spas, and restaurants serving up a wide array of regional fish and seafood dishes. And of course there’s the thriving nightlife in the bars, where one can drink national and exotic beverages with new friends under a moonlit sky.

Visit: http://www.visitmexico.com.mx/

Cozumel Tour

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