Monday, August 20, 2007

Villa de Santiago - Pueblo Magico

On a hazy Sunday morning, which later became a blazing hot afternoon, two colleagues and I set out to explore more of the Monterrey area. After a 30 minute drive south along the Carretera Nacional we arrived at the historic town of Villa de Santiago, which tourist books describe as pueblo magico, magical town.
The central plaza, which is anchored by the 16th century Santiago Apostle Church, is surrounded by beautifully restored adobe style buildings. The plaza’s grass covered center with walkways and benches is a meeting place for people before and after church or just to linger around in the shade of the trees. After a 45 minute walkabout, which included a visit to the inside of the church and to the Hotel Santiago, we continued our trip to Cola de Caballo, the Horsetail Falls. The winding road to the falls took us past several very poor residential areas as we climbed into the mountains. We had to walk the last mile of so on a picturesque cobbled-stoned road all along the river to get to the falls. Everywhere along the river, day visitors were picnicking or barbequing in places specifically provided for this purpose. The falls, located inside an Ecotourist Park is quite well organized to handle the many families and visitors that visit the park, especially on Sundays for picnicking.

After taking some photos and a rest at the foot of the 82 feet high falls, we walked back to the car and then drove to a nearby hotel to enjoy lunch at the Restaurant Mirador and a panoramic view of the valley below. After lunch we drove back to our hotels in the La Fe area of Monterrey.

Beautifully restored colonial buildings surround Santiago's central plaza.

Standing on a high point in town, the Santiago Apostle Church, built in 1745, is visible from afar. The church, with paint peeling and shrubs growing from fissures in the walls, is in need of some restoration.

The altar and dome of Santiago Apostle Church.

A view of the Santiago Dam from a lookout point behind the church.

One of the old building facing the central plaza is the Hotel Santiago, with a central foyer which leads to shops and restaurants.

Cola de Caballo, Horsetail falls. One of the national symbols of the state of Nuevo Leon.

After our visit to the falls we had lunch in the Mirador Restaurant with its ceiling to floor glass wall that provide this spectacular view of the valley below. The white spots just of the center of the picture is the Apostle Church in Santiago.

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