Postcard from Queretaro, Mexico: Strolling around an outdoor gallery and historic center

Above: “Aurora Reyes Flores, First Woman Muralist of Mexico,” by Itandewi and Raquel Estrada

In commemoration of International Women’s Day in March, 100 women spent a weekend applying their designs to 100 screens mounted on the perimeter fence of Alameda Hidalgo. Organized by Santiago de Queretaro’s Secretary of Culture and Nueve Arte Urbano, “Exposicion Colectiva M100” paid tribute to historical figures who had contributed to the struggle for equal rights for women in Mexico. We were fortunate to stumble across the exhibition saluting impressive women as portrayed by talented young artists during our short March visit there.

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Postcard from Queretaro, Mexico: Bouquet from a patio of Eden

Above, orchids blooming in a patio of La Casa de los Ladrillos in Santiago de Queretaro

The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, 1911*

Offering a colorful bouquet in gratitude for the hospitality extended by our host last week in the historic center of Queretaro. Of course, we plucked these flowers virtually from his own garden filling all his patio space with plants that would rival those of any nursery. He has succeeded in creating a magical, soothing respite in the heart of city.

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Postcard from Queretaro, Mexico: A picturesque center sheltered from the affluence of its suburbs

A safe haven in Mexico, Santiago de Queretaro has attracted lucrative businesses and manufacturers to establish headquarters in what formerly were its outskirts. The population has swelled to more than one million, with its affluence attracting the 2013 opening of Antea, the largest mall in Latin America. Chanel, Burberry, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana – they are all there.

Fortunately, you are sheltered completely from all of this when staying in the historic center of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the city mercifully remains unscathed by the invasion of fashionable international chains.

The charm of the historic center, as noted by UNESCO, is created by its successful merger of diverse cultures:

The property is unusual in having retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side by side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters. The Otomi, the Tarasco, the Chichimeca and the Spanish lived together in the town, which is notable for the many ornate civil and religious Baroque monuments, with a skyline that has been defined since the 16th century. The urban layout of is unique for Spanish colonial towns in the Americas in that its town plan was from the start divided into two distinct sections – one rectilinear and intended for Spanish settlers and the other composed of smaller, winding streets where the indigenous population lived.