In the Mexican highlands, with an excellent climate, the Mexica town of Aculco brings together splendid architecture, beautiful natural landscapes, attractive crafts and delicious food. We invite you to get to know Aculco with this complete guide.
1. Where is Aculco located?
Aculco de Espinoza, or simply Aculco, is the small town that heads the Mexica municipality of the same name, located on the mountainous plateau, in the extreme north of the state, bordering Querétaro. In the Mexica territory, it is surrounded by the municipalities of Polotitlán, Acambay, Timilpan and Jilotepec. Aculco is very close to several major cities. The trip from Mexico City is 136 km. by highway 57 towards Querétaro; at km height. 115 you have to take the deviation that goes to Arroyo Zarco, being Aculco 15 km away. of the crossing. Toluca is 110 km away. traveling on highway 55 in the direction of Querétaro and Santiago de Querétaro is 91 km. in the direction of San Juan del Río.
2. What are the main historical features of Aculco?
As with many pre-Hispanic Mexican names, there are several versions of the meaning of “Aculco” One version says that it is a Nahua term that means “In crooked water” while another says that the meaning is “Place where water twists » In any case, there is no doubt that the name revolves around water, since in the Otomi language, «Aculco» means «Two waters». Although the name that prevailed is Nahua, the pre-Hispanic settlement of Aculco was founded by the Otomi at the beginning of the 12th century. It was then ruled by Mexicas and Aztecs until Moctezuma I conquered it for the Kingdom of Tlacopan. The conquistadors arrived in 1540 and founded the original Hispanic town with the name of San Jerónimo. In Aculco, the independence forces led by Hidalgo lost their first major battle,
3. What is the local weather like?
Aculco is located at 2,440 meters above sea level, enjoying a pleasant cool mountain climate between spring and autumn, with an average annual temperature of 13.2 °C. In winter it is cold in Aculco, with the thermometer dropping a lot between December and February, reaching below zero degrees. In Aculco it rains 700 mm a year, with a rainy season that extends from the beginning of April to October and even until November. So it is prudent that you go to Aculco with an umbrella and that you do not lack warm clothes.
4. What are the fundamental attractions of Aculco?
The Main Garden, with its beautiful kiosk, is the best starting point to explore Aculco. From there you have to go through the Parish and Ex-Convent of San Jerónimo, the Casa Hidalgo, the Casa de la Cultura, the Public Lavaderos, the Colorado Bridge and the Señor de Nenthé Sanctuary. Near Aculco there are places of ecological interest with constructions and ruins of historical importance, such as the Mountain, the Dam and the Hacienda Ñadó, the Tixhiñú and La Concepción Waterfalls, as well as the Hacienda Arroyo Zarco. In the vicinity of Aculco there are several towns of tourist interest, particularly for their religious architecture, such as San Lucas Totolmaloya, Santa Ana Matlavat and San Pedro Denhi. The people of Aculquen have an excellent artisan tradition in the work of stonemasonry and in the production of milk-based products.
5. What is in the Main Garden?
The Aculco Main Garden is a beautiful wooded and landscaped area, dominated by a beautiful hexagonal-shaped kiosk with a red roof. The kiosk is in the Tuscan style and was built in 1899. In the shade of the trees there are several benches that provide a cool and quiet place for visitors to take a break before continuing their tours of the Magical Town . In front of the Main Garden are the most emblematic buildings of the historic center of Aculco, such as the parish church of San Jerónimo, the Municipal Presidency and Los Portales, where there are shops where you can get the typical craft products of the town.
6. What is the interest of the Shrine of the Lord of Nenthé?
The primitive chapel of the Lord of Nenthé, which had been erected in 1702, was demolished in 1943 after being destroyed in the late 1920s during the Cristero War. The new sanctuary was built in a modern architectural style. One of the legends surrounding the veneration of the Lord of Nenthé says that during a severe drought the chapel caught fire and the image of the “Lord of Water” was found intact in a place where a spring gushed. Another legend indicates that the Holy Christ miraculously saved a soldier from the independence troops in 1810. In any case, when the rains are delayed, the peasants take the image out in procession, crying out for water.
7. What is the Parish and Former Convent of San Jerónimo like?
The conventual rooms of this complex erected by the Franciscans date from the 1540s and the temple was built between 1764 and 1759. The facade of the parish church is in the tequitqui or tributary baroque style, pictorial and sculptural art developed by the Mesoamerican indigenous people on the constructions with Spanish architectural expression. Inside is a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel rescuing the souls from purgatory and a version of The Last Supper , made by the notable artist of the viceroyalty era, Miguel Cabrera. In the former convent there are oil paintings of San Antonio de Padua and San Juan Nepomuceno.
8. What is the Casa Hidalgo?
It is a large two-story mansion located near the Municipal Presidency, with lowered arches on the ground floor and oval arches on the upper level. The house belonged to Doña Mariana Legorreta, sister-in-law of the Insurgent José Rafael Marcelino Polo. It is called Casa Hidalgo because the Father of the Nation, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, spent the night there on the nights of November 5 and 6, 1810, on the eve of the disastrous Battle of Aculco, fought on the 7th, in which the forces Republicans were severely defeated by the royalists. The house has undergone several renovations throughout its history, including the replacement of the corner portal with a new portal with square columns. Currently the facade is painted with bright colors.
9. Where is the House of Culture located?
The House of Culture of Aculco, which also houses the Municipal Historical Archive, is a building located on Calle Manuel del Mazo 4 in the center, which works in what was the Venustiano Carranza Primary School, in turn built on the site of the old Municipal Palace. It is a large one-story mansion that is accessed from the same street pavement by a short staircase with 3 steps and on its façade there is a wide entrance door and several groups of 3 windows each, all these elements with very low arches. The House of Culture is the scene of artistic exhibitions and other cultural events.
10. What are Public Lavaderos?
Until not long ago, in towns with a shortage of water, public laundries were built for the residents to do their laundry; sites that now constitute picturesque testimonies of past times. The public lavatories of Aculco were built in 1882, taking advantage of the Ojo de Agua spring, the main source of supply for the population. For more than 100 years there has been a legend in Aculco about some children who would have been found by a witch, taking them to a piru tree located next to the laundries, whose trunk took the form of some embracing boys. It is even said that if the bark of the tree is punctured, a strange red substance comes out. You can try to check the history on your trip to Aculco.
11. What is the interest of Puente Colorado?
This bridge was part of the original access to the town, by the road that linked Aculco with the Arroyo Zarco hacienda and with the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, and is located over the most important stream in the town. The construction is made of white stone masonry characteristic of Aculco and has four slightly lowered arches. It owes its name to the fact that at the beginning of the 20th century it was painted red, although all that layer of paint has now disappeared. Another of the legends of Aculco is that of a supposed carter who makes noises with his cart stuck under the bridge, but when someone comes down to help, the place is deserted.
12. What can I do in the Ñadó Mountain and Dam?
Near Aculco, covered by dense forest, is the Ñadó Mountain, which rises to more than 3,000 meters above sea level. In the mountain there is a rock that reaches 3,170 meters above sea level, which is frequented by climbing enthusiasts. The waters of the Ñadó River, a current that integrates those of several streams that come down from the slopes of the nearby mountains, form the Ñadó Dam, between the municipalities of Aculco and Acambray. In the dam and its surroundings you can practice sport fishing, horseback riding, camping and other entertainment.
13. What is at Hacienda Ñadó?
This hacienda, which already existed in the 18th century according to records of the time, was an important producer of charcoal, which had a railway line to take the product to Santiago de Querétaro and other nearby cities and transport the materials and supplies required in The explotion. The Arroyo Zarco hacienda, an old strategic point of exchange of goods and resting place of well-known characters in Mexican history, was supplied with coal from the Hacienda Ñadó. The property of the hacienda, of which some constructions have survived, is now private property, it is located in a beautiful area bathed by the waters of the La Tinaja stream.
14. What is the importance of Hacienda Arroyo Zarco?
12 km. from the town of Aculco is the ejido of Arroyo Zarco, where this hacienda is located, the ruins of which are preserved from the big house. Among the grass it is still possible to see the stones that formed the pavement of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the legendary road of 2,560 km. in length that linked Mexico City with Santa Fe, United States. This Jesuit hacienda once had 30,000 hectares, conserving the remains of a mill from the denim factory that operated on the farm, as well as a chapel, which is the structure in the best condition. The hacienda was a stagecoach hotel and a resting or sleeping place for notable figures in Mexican history, such as Maximilian of Habsburg, Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz.
15. Where is the Tixhiñú Waterfall?
The Tixhiñú waterfall is formed by the current of the Ñadó River as it enters a basalt ravine with vertical walls about 30 meters high. The river forms a beautiful waterfall, much more spectacular in the rainy season, whose cold waters form a natural pool. The upper part of the waterfall can be reached by a paved path and to reach the lower part you have to descend along a path with beautiful gallery vegetation. It is located about 7 kilometers west of Aculco.
16. What is La Concepción Waterfall like?
Access to this waterfall is located on the road between Aculco and Amealco, about 10 km. of the Magic Town. The waters of the stream that runs through a rocky landscape made up of basalt stones, come from the nearby Ñadó Dam. The La Concepción waterfall can be appreciated in all its beauty during the high water season, with the waterfall forming a dense curtain 25 meters high. The rocky walls are suitable for practicing adventure sports such as rappelling, and there are already more than a hundred routes laid out for the descent. Many rappellers use the site for camping.
17. What attraction does San Lucas Totolmaloya have?
This small community located 12 km. Aculco has a beautiful and simple white chapel with red trim, in which the evangelist who, according to Christian tradition, wrote the Acts of the Apostles is venerated. The small temple has a portal with a lowered arch, with the choir window above it and to one side a single, slender three-body bell tower. In the atrium is a robust atrial cross. Few Mexican towns now preserve the authentic celebration of the Day of the Dead with its vespers, dedicating October 31 to children who died prematurely before baptism and November 1 to the memory of dead children already baptized and at a young age. Although the Day of the Dead has also changed in San Lucas Totolmaloya, it is still a town with one of the most traditional celebrations.
18. What is there to see in Santa Ana Matlavat?
7 km. north of Aculco is Santa Ana Matlavat, one of the oldest towns in the state of Mexico. Its old chapel with an octagonal and crenelated apse dates from the 16th century and is located next to the new temple that began to be built more recently. The façade of the chapel is crowned by an interesting passion cross, which has calendrical glyphs engraved similar to those of the Codex Mexicanus , the famous Mixtec pre-Hispanic document that is kept in the Austrian National Library. For this reason, specialists have linked Santa Ana Matlavat with very old episodes of Mexican history.
19. What stands out in San Pedro Denhi?
Another town of interest in the municipality of Aculco is San Pedro Denxhi, located 25 km. from the municipal seat. As in colonial times, the main building in the town is still its small church, declared a historical monument by the INAH, which has some particular characteristics that differentiate it from most other temples in the state of Mexico. Among these distinctions, the absence of a choir and the use of a very dark colored quarry to carve the decorations of the façade stand out. Inside the chapel of San Pedro Denxhi, an ancient monolithic baptismal font stands out, as well as the main altar with images of San Pedro and two figures of Christ.
20. What are the main crafts of Aculco?
Aculco’s artisans are consummate workers of quarry stone, which since pre-Hispanic times and with more intensity since the viceroyalty, carved to raise the solid and magnificent buildings of its architectural landscape. Many people who are building or decorating a property go to Aculco to equip themselves with cobblestones, fountains, columns, railings, sculptures, crosses and other decorative and religious pieces. The popular craftsmen of the town also make beautiful and colorful embroidered blankets, woolen fabrics, serapes, blankets and shawls. With the ixtle fiber of the maguey they make typical hats, indigenous clothing, ayates and other clothing.
21. How is the gastronomy?
The people of Aculco are great eaters of Mexica and border state dishes, such as mole poblano, barbecue and carnitas. They also know how to appreciate the escamoles and in the Lenten season they eagerly look for the appreciated larvae. The dairy farming of the territory of the dairy basin in which Aculco is located has allowed the development of a tradition in the production of cheeses, butters, creams and other dairy products. You can buy these delicacies in their maximum freshness in Los Portales and other places in the town, as well as the jamoncillos and other sweets that make up the typical local candy store, as well as the breads.
22. What are the main festivals of the Magical Town?
The patron saint festivities of San Jerónimo have September 30 as their culminating day, being a celebration that mixes customs and traditions from various eras, highlighting the dances of people from Santiago and concheros. The best agricultural craft products produced in the locality are exhibited at the festivals. September 17 is the Day of the Aculquense Fraternity, a festive date with more than 100 years of history, in which the townspeople gather to spend a picnic, sharing food and drinks, and holding competitions among friends, such as horse racing at the site of El Carril. Holy Week is celebrated in Aculco with all fervor and showiness, with the Lord of Nenthé being the main protagonist.
23. Where can I stay in Aculco?
In San José Gunyo Poniente there is a nice and cozy hotel called Xani Mui, formerly called Rancho Equus. It is a converted farm house, with comfortable and well-decorated rooms, and delicious cuisine. in the km. 26 of the highway between Amealco de Bofil and San Juan del Río, is the Misión La Muralla, a somewhat remote hotel, but worth it for its heated pool, careful attention and exquisite food. In San Juan del Río, Amealco, Huichapan and Temascalcingo, towns located near Aculco, there are several recommended hotels, such as the San Juan Park Hotel, Hotel V, Hotel Amealco, La Casa Bix, Villas San Francisco and Hotel Plaza Venecia. Others are Hotel Layseca, Hacienda La Venta and Rancho el 7.
24. What are the best restaurants?
El Rincón del Viejo offers Mexican food in its two-story house located in front of the main square. The portions are generous and the service is very fast, receiving good references for their flank steak cuts and their wires. In Hidalgo 2 is La Orquídea, a restaurant also specialized in Mexican food, with good portions and affordable prices; roast beef, barbecue and salads are excellent. Camino Real de las Carretas is located in Hidalgo 8 and they are very good hosts, with welcome tequila, music and delicious food. To eat tacos, on Avenida 6 de Febrero you can find Tacos El Pata.
Did you like our Aculco guide? We have prepared it especially for you, in order to provide you with all the necessary information for you to make an unforgettable trip to the Pueblo Mágico Mexica. In any case, if you consider that something has been missing, we will gladly attend to your observation. It only remains for us to ask you to write us a brief comment about this guide and about your experiences in Aculco. See you again very soon for another lovely walk through some wonderful place in the Mexican geography.