This Lesser Known Spot Is One Of Mexico’s Top Cultural Destinations For 2023

This Lesser Known Spot Is One Of Mexico’s Top Cultural Destinations For 2023

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A lesser-known vacation spot in Mexico has been crowned the number one cultural destination in the whole of the Americas. According to the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, the state of Aguascalientes is home to some of Mexico’s most beautiful yet least visited locations.

Aerial View Of Aguascalientes City In Mexico, Latin America

From rolling green hills to family-owned vineyards and an array of Magical Towns, it is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.

Mexico is best known for teal-colored oceans, spotless beaches, luxurious resorts lining a Caribbean coastline, and historical ruins tucked away in the jungle. That may be a pretty accurate description of the Yucatán Peninsula, but it is far from being representative of all of Mexico. In reality, the country is a huge melting pot and surprisingly diverse at its core:

All states in the Federation share a common History, but they also have distinct cultural traits, and Aguascalientes is no exception when it comes to tourist offers:

The New North American Cultural Capital

Colonial Era Basilica In Aguascalientes, Mexico, Latin America

Beating numerous other History-packed destinations to the number one spot, Aguascalientes is the Cultural Capital of the Americas for 2023. The honor was bestowed upon the little-visited yet impossibly scenic state by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals (IBCC).

As stated by Xavier Tudela, President of IBCC, Aguascalientes was chosen as the new cultural capital for ‘three different and complementary reasons’:

  • The quality of the ‘candidacy project’
  • Institutional and citizen consensus
  • The ‘desire’ to use the new status to ‘add, unite and strengthen social inclusion, as well as an element of economic development’

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A tourist wishes she spoke more Spanish as she looks around a market in Mexico

The title will help promote Aguascalientes’ ‘great cultural wealth‘, often overlooked in comparison to Quintana Roo’s Mayan heritage or Mexico City’s well-known Aztec citadels. According to state governor Maria Teresa Jimenez Esquivel, the recognition of Aguascalientes, where three Pueblos Magicos are located, as a cultural hotspot of equal importance ‘will give a renewed boost to tourism’ and diversify the economy.

This marks the first time the IBCC picked an entire state, and not a single city, as a cultural capital, calling it the ‘geographic center of Mexico’ and the country’s ‘cultural, natural, and tourist nexus’. Celebrating the news, Esquivel added Aguascalientes is a ‘great state’, with its museums, architecture and Magical Towns.

What Makes Aguascalientes So Special?

A Bridge Spanning A River Which Traverses A Canyon In Aguascalientes, Central Mexico, Latin America

Aguascalientes is a small state in Central Mexico whose original inhabitants were the Chichimecas, an ethnic group, and nomadic peoples who preceded the Spaniards. They were a unique tribe in the sense that they did not establish city-states, like their Mayan neighbors, nor dwellings, and their fierceness in defending the territory earned them the pejorative title of ‘barbarians’.

The territory that would eventually become the free state only fell into Spanish hands nearly two centuries after the Conquistadores first made landfall, making Aguascalientes one of the longest-standing pre-Columbian enclaves within modern-day Mexico. Despite the construction of European forts and the introduction of both Christianity and Western customs, the region still retained much of its native tradition.

Fresh Pastries Exhibited In A Bakery In Aguascalientes, An Ethnic State And Cultural Region In Central Mexico, Latin America

A Foodie Hotspot

It is hugely popular among foodies due to its rich cuisine: people travel from all over Mexico travel to Aguascalientes to sample local specialties like hog ribs with guava sauce, cheese-and-butter tamales, a surviving vestige of Chichimeca/Mesoamerican diet, and breads from Calvillo, a small town in the state’s southwestern tip.

Incredibly Safe

The state itself is sandwiched between the larger states of Zacatecas and Jalisco, the latter of which was recently included on the U.S. Department of State’s Level 3 Travel Advisory. This means Americans should reconsider traveling there. Luckily, Aguascalientes has remained in the much safer Level 2.

Close Up View Of Colonial Era Cathedral In Central Mexico, Latin America

Colonial Heritage

Other than presenting lower safety risks, Aguascalientes (the city and state capital) is home to a beautifully-preserved Centro Historico. Founded as early as 1565, it is bedecked with Hispanic-Baroque monuments, including the now-iconic Guadalupe Church, whose tall 18th-century towers can be seen from many viewpoints around the city, and an adjacent colonial-era square.

A Fast-Growing Wellness Hub

Aguascalientes is Spanish for ‘hot waters’ or ‘hot springs’, which exist in abundance in the state, where tourists will find a plethora of thermal baths, spas, and wellness centers for ultimate relaxation, and for only a small fraction of the price they would pay in more touristy, coastal cities like Cabo San Lucas or Cancun.

Small Town Of Calvillo, A Pueblo Magico In The State Of Aguascalientes, Central Mexico, Latin America

Charming Cities

The small city – and Pueblo Magico – of Calvillo, a short one-hour drive from the capital, is renowned for its holistic sanctuaries and gastronomy. It is often called the world capital of guava, and several of the local dishes feature the exotic fruit. When it comes to sightseeing, visitors are met with the impressive temple of Señor del Salitre, and narrow streets flanked on both sides by artisan shops and colorful houses.

A Rustic Countryside

Away from the urban centers, in the Aguascalientes countryside, guests will be graced with rustic views of vineyards and haciendas set against a lush green scenery. Among the wineries listed on TripAdvisor, some of the top-rated are Vinicola Santa Elena, Bodegas Origen, and Vinedos Casa Leal.

These are the top 7 tourist attractions in the state, as defined by IBCC:

Famous Gateway In A Park In Aguascalientes, In Central Mexico, Latin America
  • La Catrina, a painting by Aguascalientes native Jose Guadalupe Posada, and a national treasure of inestimable value
  • The elegant ‘Ojo Caliente’ spa, built in the neoclassical style
  • The Three Centuries Complex, a historical train station
  • The Government Palace
  • The San Marcos National Fair, taking place for the 190th consecutive year this year
  • The Gardens of San Marcos in Aguascalientes (the city)
  • The trio of Magical Towns – Calvillo, San Jose de Gracia, and Asientos

Which Airports Offer Flights To Aguascalientes?

Travelers Transiting An International Airport At An Unspecified Location

Below you will find a list of all the airlines operating in Lic. Jesus Teran Peredo International (AGU), in close proximity to the city of Aguascalientes:

  • Aeromar – Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta
  • Aeromexico – Mexico City*
  • Aeromexico Connect – Mexico City
  • American Eagle – Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Magni – Cancun*
  • TAR Aerolineas – Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta
  • United Express – Houston-Intercontinental
  • Volaris – Cancun, Chicago-Midway, Los Angeles, Tijuana
*These routes are seasonal

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