A Travellerspoint blog

Exploring Cuernavaca, "City of Eternal Spring"

IMG_8960_-.._chapel.jpg
Chapel of the Tercera Orden

+

One of the places I'd been hoping to visit one day was Cuernavaca, a city 85 kms (53 miles) south of Mexico City, so when I heard Lynda Martinez was organising a trip there, I signed up straightaway. A comment of hers got me raring to go: "You are going to go crazy with your camera there!" And that's exactly what happened.... I'll let my photos tell the story of our day out.

IMG_8364_-_Scenery.jpg
We drove to Cuernavaca along the excellent D-95 highway, passing lots of wooded areas. The original name of the city in Nahuatl was Cuauhnáhuac (which looks a mouthful but is more or less pronounced "Kwownáwac") meaning "surrounded by or close to trees", but since the Spanish conquistadores couldn't pronounce it, they named the city Cuernavaca. The volcano Popocatépetl lies quite close too.

IMG_8365-_Morelos.jpg
At this point, we passed into the State of Morelos. Cuernavaca is the capital and largest city of Morelos and now has a population of more than 600,000.

IMG_8369_-..tmiento.jpg
A sign seen as we came down into the city. This place is famous for its Revolutionary fighters, especially Emiliano Zapata who was born in Morelos, but was also where the Aztec Emperors and Spanish rulers had their summer palaces. Wealthy residents of Mexico City built mansions here due to the pleasant climate. Today many foreigners come here to learn Spanish.

IMG_8383_-.._Cort_s.jpg
Our first stop was at the fortified Palacio de Cortés, built by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1526 on the site of a former Aztec pyramid, to be used as his residence and administrative offices. It is the oldest civil building still standing in New Spain, with battlements and thick walls. Apparently it has also been a warehouse, a prison, military barracks and a State Government Palace. Today it is a museum recounting the history of the Sate of Morelos and Mexico.

IMG_8386_-_Info.jpg
Lynda giving us a few explanations before we went in. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were very few people around.

IMG_8402_-_Arches.jpg
Arches at the back and front of the museum give wonderful views of the surrounding city.

IMG_8409_-..ispanic.jpg
Some of the pre-Hispanic exhibits

IMG_8401_-_Horse.jpg
When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, among other animals, they brought the horse.

IMG_8413_-..urtyard.jpg
In the inner courtyard you can see some of the pre-Hispanic remains

IMG_8430_-..f_towns.jpg
An Aztec codex with the names of different towns and villages using symbols.

IMG_8442_-..thedral.jpg
View of Cuernavaca Cathedral from the museum

IMG_8537_-_Murals.jpg
The Palacio de Cortés also has some interesting murals painted by Diego Rivera which narrate the history of the Conquest and the Revolution.

IMG_8533-1_-_Mural.jpg
Section of the mural - on the left you can see the sugar cane production at the haciendas, set up by the Spanish.

IMG_8549_-.._square.jpg
Looking down over the square outside. As it was mid-week, it was very quiet. Weekends are particularly busy when many people come from Mexico City to enjoy clear skies and a smaller city!

IMG_8575_-..ee_stop.jpg
Our coffee stop where Lynda began to tell us a bit of background information about the next place we were about to visit.

IMG_8584_-..s_trees.jpg
As we walked to the next place, we saw colourful buildings and trees everywhere.

IMG_8600_-..uilding.jpg
A peppermint green building

IMG_8590_-_Flower.jpg
With its sunny tropical climate, Cuernavaca is famous for its luxuriant vegetation and flora.

IMG_8589_-..y_Muesu.jpg
Our second visit was to the Robert Brady Museum, a real feast for the eyes!

IMG_8649_-..o_Brady.jpg
Robert Brady was an American artist from Iowa, who settled here in Cuernavaca in 1962. He spent his life collecting art and other artifacts from all around the world and when he died in 1986, he bequeathed his house to the city as long as they didn't change anything.

IMG_8598_-_Entrance.jpg
The entrance to the museum-house, Casa de la Torre, left exactly as when Brady lived in it.

IMG_8606_-_Front.jpg
The colours, decoration and collections are exquisite... you can tell he was an artist!

IMG_8618_-..ortress.jpg
The house and its grounds were originally part of the Franciscan monastery and back onto the walled Cathedral.

IMG_8786_-_The_girls.jpg
Lynda, our guide, in pink and the other five girls on the tour

IMG_8640_-..ng_room.jpg
A tastefully-decorated sitting room

IMG_8642_-_Cushions.jpg
Brady had bright cushions everywhere in the house

IMG_8645_-_Masks.jpg
One of his collections of masks

IMG_8673_-_Pool.jpg
The beautiful garden and pool

IMG_8692_-_Porch.jpg
A shady porch area seen from the dining room

IMG_8711_-_Kitchen.jpg
The bright cheerful kitchen

IMG_8744_-_Bed.jpg
Brady's bedroom

IMG_8757_-..ow_room.jpg
A yellow-coloured sitting room with an original painting by Frida Kahlo on the walls

IMG_8772_-..al_room.jpg
The so-called "Oriental Room" for guests

IMG_8784_-_Our_group.jpg
A group picture outside in the gardens

IMG_8817_-_Street.jpg
View of the street outside with brightly coloured buildings

IMG_8823_-_School.jpg
We passed a school where there were lots of vendors waiting to sell food to the children when they came out

IMG_8828_-..uilding.jpg
A big red building opposite the Cathedral

IMG_8850_-_Gardens.jpg
Our third visit was to Cuernava's Cathedral complex, a fortified walled compound enclosing the main Cathedral and three other chapels, one at each corner. In the middle of the atrium are beautiful gardens and shady walkways.

IMG_8862_-_Sign.jpg
Sign which reads: "Cathedral of Cuernavaca. Founded by Franciscan monks in the 16th Century. Begun in 1529. Finished in 1552. Named "La Asunción de Maria". The frescos on the side walls of the nave depict the martyrdom of the Mexican saint Philip of Jesus. It became the Cathedral Of Cuernavaca in 1891."

IMG_8852_-_Flowers.jpg
Beautiful flowering trees in the gardens

IMG_8864_-_Cathedral.jpg
The Cathedral, once the Monastery of La Asunción, was the fifth monastery/church in New Spain. It was built by Hernán Cortés to double up as a fortress.

IMG_8867_-_Man.jpg
Getting some interesting perspectives!

IMG_8885_-_Bell_tower.jpg
Lynda telling our group about the Cathedral at the bottom of the tower

IMG_8891_-.._chapel.jpg
An unusual feature is the "Open Chapel" or Capilla Abierta, one of the oldest parts, where they could say mass for hundreds of natives who were accustomed to worshipping outdoors, never inside.

IMG_8915_-_Buttresses.jpg
The enormous buttresses of the "Open Chapel"

IMG_8886-1_-_Top.jpg
The top part of the tower was rebuilt after being toppled by an earthquake in 1882.

IMG_8918_-_Door.jpg
One of the wooden doors

IMG_8923_-_Interior.jpg
The interior of the Cathedral underwent several restoration and renovation processes

IMG_8924_-_Frescoes.jpg
Frescos along the side walls, discovered during the renovation work in the 1960s, depicting the martyrdom of St Philip of Jesus in Japan.

IMG_8929_-_Lynda.jpg
Learning about the history of this Cathedral

IMG_8934_-..ing_out.jpg
Looking out towards the gardens

IMG_8939_-_Cross.jpg
The interior is now fairly modern

IMG_8953_-..rescoes.jpg
More frescos on the other side wall

IMG_8843_-.._chapel.jpg
The pink and white façade of the Chapel of the Tercera Orden, standing inside the walled compound

IMG_8964-_Side_view.jpg
Side view of the chapel, with its concave façade, built in 1694.

IMG_8969_-..il_pink.jpg
Detail of the figures on the façade

IMG_8979_-_Altar.jpg
The very ornate gold altar, quite a surprise for such a small chapel

IMG_8981_-..nations.jpg
A quiet place for explanations

IMG_8839_-_Chapel.jpg
Another chapel, the Chapel of Santa Cruz, with a different architectural style, also in the grounds

IMG_9005_-.._chapel.jpg
We had a quick look around the rather bare inside.

IMG_9009_-..ing_out.jpg
Looking out towards the Chapel of the Tercera Orden standing opposite this chapel and right next to the main entrance,

IMG_9018_-_Outside.jpg
More church buildings can be seen up the street

IMG_9029_-_Tree.jpg
There are many gardens in the City of Eternal Spring, nickname given to Cuernavaca by Alexander von Humboldt, the German explorer and naturalist in the 19th Century.

IMG_9044_-_Forests.jpg
Heading back towards Mexico City, along the pine-forested highway.

IMG_9046_-_Hay_bales.jpg
We went past lots of fields with hay drying in the sun

IMG_9047_-_Open_skies.jpg
The open skies are much clearer here, something missing from DF - a picturesque way to end our very interesting tour.

Now I'm looking forward to the next trip to Cuernavaca to discover a bit more about this city and visit its markets!

Posted by margaretm 04:04 Archived in Mexico Tagged churches museums history mexico trips colours colonial cuernavaca pre-hispanic

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

LOVED your photos!
So glad you enjoyed the tour --- and we only touched the tip of the iceberg. You need to go back and see more!

by Lynda Martinez

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint