Similar to the Procesion del Silencio, we are going to take a walking tour of Queretaro. Thankfully, we won’t be carrying a cross and dragging a chain around our ankle in the process…
Convento de la Santa Cruz
We start our tour at Convento de la Santa Cruz (10 pesos suggested donation), which is on the east side of central Queretaro.
The convent is popular among Mexicans, because a tree within the compound produces thorns in the shape of crosses. Those intrigued may purchase samples outside for a few pesos.
Apparently, the sacred tree began growing this way after a weary friar planted his walking stick in the Arbol de la Cruz.
However, one man’s cross is another man’s sword. Emperor Maximilian, younger brother of Austrian emperor Francis Joseph, housed his headquarters in the convent during the siege of Queretaro. Upon his surrender, the tables were turned and he was jailed at the convent until he was shot by the firing squad.
The Convento de la Santa Cruz is also noteworthy for orchestrating the Procesion del Silencio in Queretaro, and celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. The festival is marked by robed and hooded faithful carrying log crosses and dragging chains attached to their ankle. Each group is led by an anonymous cluster carrying their patron saint.
The Procesion del Silencio takes place the evening of Good Friday and is meant to mourn the passing of Christ, and pay homage to Our Lady of Solitude. Several members may beat drums, but no participant makes a sound during their march through Queretaro.
The most impressive aspect is the sheer number of participants. Departing from the Convento de la Santa Cruz, it took 90 minutes for all the groups to commence. Included were men of all ages, adolescents, and even young boys just entering school!
Veiled women also participated by carrying candles, and were led by a group carrying their own patron saint.
Aqueduct and Lookout
Just to the east of the Convento de la Santa Cruz is the emblem of Queretaro, Los Arcos. The aqueduct runs approximately 1.25 kilometers down Zaragoza Avenue, and contains dozens of sandstone arches.
An encompassing lookout takes in the entire length of the aqueduct, and is adjacent to the Mausoleo de la Corregidora.
Plaza de Armas
Downtown Queretaro is filled with parks and plazas. Upon returning from Los Arcos, you will first encounter Plaza de Armas. It is bordered on the north by the Palacio de Gobierno, and otherwise lined by restaurants.
The center is marked by a statue cum fountain with tree-lined pathways nearby.
Templo de San Francisco and Around
It is almost impossible not to see Templo de San Francisco from Plaza de Armas. The ornate church’s dome towers above the surrounding landscape. Outside Templo de San Francisco is a statue of an Aztec musician.
The front façade of the church is not aesthetically appealing, but the interior is elaborate.
The Museo Regional is next door, and provides a history of Queretaro throughout all the different phases. This includes the role Queretaro played in the fight for Independence. Across the street is Jardin Zenea, which sometimes has a plethora of food vendors.
Plaza de la Corregidora and Around
A block north is the Plaza de la Corredgidora featuring the namesake monument and her flame of freedom. If you are lucky, you will get to see some life-size Mexican rag dolls that are scattered around Queretaro where they originate from.
Around the corner from the statue is the Templo de San Antonio.
In the other direction, the Teatro de la Republica is where the Mexican constitution was signed.
Jardin Guerrero and Around
Heading west down Hidalgo, you will come across the Museo de la Ciudad. History buffs will be disappointed as this museum is really an art gallery. The exhibit depicting death and the desert was the most intriguing.
The Templo de Santa Clara towers over the square sculpted trees that line Jardin Guerrero.
Directly in front of the church is Neptune’s Fountain.
One block south is the Museo de Arte de Queretaro. The impressive building was previously a monastery, and now holds European religious art among other genres.
One variation of Mexican food that is worth trying is called a Guajolotes Torta (25 pesos). It is a deep fried chili torta filled with potatoes and shredded poultry.
Queretaro links well with regional tourist destinations. The most popular are:
- Guanajuato (225 pesos, 3 hours, Primera Plus)
- San Miguel de Allende (68 pesos, 90 minutes, Flecha Amarilla)
- Xilitla (340 pesos, 7 hours, Flecha Amarilla).
Bernal (44 pesos, 1 hour, Flecha Amarilla) is an excellent day trip to see the world’s 10th biggest monolith, and largest in Mexico.
Local buses cost 7.8 pesos.
*** The Final Word – Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage City, Queretaro isn’t as impressive as Guanajuato or Zacatecas and can be skipped ***
Have you seen the Procesion del Silencio in Queretaro or anywhere else?
Super easy DIY travel around city centres
Visited in March 2016