Located just a short distance away from the Mexican capital, the cities of Taxco and Cuernavaca are easy and popular escapes to spend a day or a weekend during a visit to the country’s central region. They are both located to the south of Mexico City, on the road that connects the capital to the beaches of Acapulco (Taxco is actually reached through a detour from the main road).
Centered 180km (110mi) away from Mexico City and 245km (150mi) from Acapulco, in the northernmost section of the state of Guerrero, Taxco is a typical colonial town which grew thanks to the mining activity. Its buildings are scattered through the slopes of a hill, surrounded by a pretty irregular landscape. Although the historic development of Taxco is closely related to the multiples waves of silver discovery in the area, the city relies much more on tourism to survive nowadays.
There is no better way than walking to find out the beauties of this place. The often steep cobblestone streets of its historic center follow the contours of the hill where the city is located, many of them ending in beautiful little squares. The majority of these streets are home to a large number of small stores that sell a vast array of silver objects, including jewels, silverware and decorative elements. In fact, wandering through the city in search for great bargains in excellent silver products is one of the main reasons many tourists come to Taxco in the first place. On Saturdays it is possible to visit the artisans market, where prices are even lower.
The greatest attraction in Taxco is, undeniably, the Santa Prisca Church. This is a baroque building from the 18th century with an exceptionally opulent interior, featuring a marvelous altar and many sculptures covered by gold leaves. It is located right in the city's central square.
Cuernavaca, known as the city of eternal spring, lies approximately in the middle of the way between Mexico City and Taxco, some 90km (55mi) away from either one. Being the capital of the state of Morelos, this is quite a busy city as well as one of the destinations of choice for many foreign students looking forward to learn the Spanish language. Nevertheless, it features several colonial buildings thus deserving a visit.
The Cortes Palace is one of the city’s highlights. It was built in 1533 as a summer residence for the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes. Nowadays it hosts an excellent museum featuring murals of Diego Rivera that portray some of the history of Morelos and Mexico.
Cuernavaca’s cathedral is the main temple found in the monastery of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi. It was ordered by Hernan Cortes in the 16th century, with the secondary purpose of serving as a fortress. The interiors are filled with frescoes portraying the martyrdom of Felipe de Jesus, Mexico’s first saint. The complex where the cathedral is located also features four additional chapels, including Saint Joseph, an original structure built in the 16th century.