Discover Mexico’s Freedom Trail With These 9 Beautiful Cities
Discover the Independence of Mexico history by traveling along the Freedom Trail!
Mexico’s Freedom Trail is a series of touristic cities that were once key spots of the independence movement. In Mexico, it’s called the Ruta Hidalgo (Hidalgo Route) because Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was the leader of the cause.
The route covers all the cities and towns he went through, marked with a stone sculpture of an eagle’s head with the word libertad (freedom) on it.
Keep reading to discover the 9 most emblematic cities of the Freedom Trail!
Let’s explore Mexico!
9 Amazing Cities on Mexico’s Freedom Trail
Father Miguel Hidalgo went through many cities, so there are long and short versions of the Freedom Trail. There is evidence that he and his troops went to Toluca, San Miguel, Celaya, Irapuato, Guanajuato, Ixtlahuaca, Zinapécuaro, Guadalajara, Zacatecas, Saltillo, Chihuahua, and Monclova, among many other villages.
Most of these colonial cities are are UN Cultural Heritage sites famous for their architecture and food. These iconic Mexican towns and cities were the birthplaces of treaties and movements that formed the country.
1. Guanajuato, Guanajuato
Guanajuato was the epicenter of the independence of Mexico from Spain. It has been the birthplace of multiple important personalities in the political, military, cultural, artistic, and social spheres.
It’s a university city with abundant cultural activity. It houses the most important artistic gathering of Mexico and Latin America, El Festival Internacional Cervantino (Cervantino International Festival).
Father Miguel Hidalgo had an important victory at Alhóndiga de Granaditas on September 28, 1810 when it was taken by force by his insurgent troops.
The insurgents won that epic battle thanks to the help of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, best known as El Pípila. He carried a huge stone slab on his back to protect himself from bullets. Juan José got to the main entrance of the Alhóndiga and set it on fire, allowing the insurgents to enter and defeat the realists. Today, it is the Regional Museum of Guanajuato which documents the history of the city.
Places to Visit
The University of Guanajuato is breathtaking with its neoclassic green quarry structure adorned with a grand staircase.
The Jardín de la Unión (Union Garden) is a green plaza full of cafes where the people-watching is unsurpassed. Listen to the estudiantinas—groups of students dressed in traditional colonial costumes who sing and play instruments (skip to minute 2:00 of this video to see it live).
La Plaza de la Paz (Peace Square) is home to elaborate buildings that once belonged to wealthy families. Spot a sculpture symbolizing peace in the middle of the square and the yellow baroque Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (Collegiate Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato).
Other top picks of this Freedom Trail city are:
|Baratillo Town Square||Plaza del Baratillo|
|Hidalgo Market||Mercado Hidalgo|
|Juárez Theatre||Teatro Juárez|
|Kissing Alley||Callejón del Beso|
|Natural History Museum||Museo de Historia Natural|
|Pipila Monument||Monumento al Pípila|
2. Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
The complete name of Dolores is Dolores Hidalgo Cuna de la Independencia Nacional (Cradle of National Independence). This is where the Independence movement began with El Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores). Technically, this is the first stop on the Freedom Trail.
The town has been a main pottery production center since colonial times. Come in August during the Exposición de Mosaico Artesanal (Artisanal Tile Expo). Come in September to celebrate Mexican Independence Day and watch the reenactment of El Grito de Dolores along with pyrotechnics and concerts.
Try prehispanic cacao beverages and frozen popsicles with cacti and other exotic flavors like mole, shrimp, avocado, and chicharrón (pork rind).
Other Places to Visit
|Independence Museum||Museo de la Independencia|
|Miguel Hidalgo ‘s House and Museum||Museo de Sitio Casa de Miguel Hidalgo|
|Museum mausoleum of José Alfredo Jiménez||Museo Mausoleo de José Alfredo Jiménez|
|The Parish of Our Lady of Dolores||La Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores|
3. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
San Miguel de Allende is one of the most popular travel destinations in Mexico. In 2008, the UN named it a Cultural Heritage site for its cultural richness, architecture, and historical symbolism.
Its architecture style is Mexican baroque. Travel and Leisure magazine calls it the best city in the world! San Miguel also won the World’s Best Destination at the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
Ignacio Allende, the leader and organizer of the Insurgent Army, was born here. San Miguel’s independence celebration is one of the biggest in Mexico.
Come on Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1 and 2. People dress up in traditional costumes and eat Mexican candy and food.
Places to Visit
|Allende Garden||Jardín Allende|
|Angela Peralta Theatre||Teatro Ángela Peralta|
|Culture House||Casa de la Cultura|
|Glen of the Virgin||Cañada de la Virgen|
|Ignacio Allende House Museum||Casa Museo de Ignacio Allende|
|Parish of San Miguel Arcángel||Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel|
|San Miguel Viewpoint||Mirador San Miguel|
4. Atotonilco, San Miguel de Allende
The picturesque municipality of Atotonilco is home to one of the most iconic places in Guanajuato: El Santuario de Jesús Nazareno (Jesus of Nazareth Sanctuary). Historians call it the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.
It’s the spot where Miguel Hidalgo took a Virgin of Guadalupe banner to lead the people towards freedom. The significance of the Virgen de Guadalupe has been transcendent in all stages of the history of Mexico.
5. Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro
In the indigineous language of the Purépechas, Querétaro means “land of boulders.” This fast-growing city is famous for its historic role in the independence of Mexico.
Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez, La Corregidora (The Corrector), led the conspiracy of Querétaro. She’s a national heroine and the president always mentions her in the Independence Day speech.
Mexican Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg was captured and killed here, giving birth to the Republic. The government promulgated the Mexican Constitution in Querétaro in 1917. The UN declared it a Cultural Heritage site in 1996. Its reigning industry is aeronautics, and it’s one of the top business centers of Mexico.
Places to Visit
|An 18th century, 74-arch aqueduct||Acueducto|
|El Cerro de las Campanas||Bells Hill|
|El Centro Histórico||The Historic Center|
|El Palacio Nacional||The National Palace|
6. Aculco, State of Mexico
Aculco de Espinoza was the site of the first defeat of Miguel Hidalgo’s insurgent troops. Visit the house where he slept during his time in Aculco and the tree where he officiated a mass after the bloody battle.
Aculco’s economy is based on agriculture. Its architecture is full of color, columns, and cobblestone streets.
Places to Visit
|Culture House||La Casa de la Cultura|
|La Concepción Waterfalls||Las Cascadas de La Concepción|
|Municipal Auditorium||El Auditorio Municipal|
|Municipal Presidency||La Presidencia Municipal|
|Public square||La plaza pública|
|San Jerónimo Parish||La Parroquia de San Jerónimo|
7. Morelia, Michoacán
Morelia, “the city of the pink quarry” has been a Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 1991. Its most famous residents were José María Morelos y Pavón, Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, and Agustín de Iturbide—three heroes of Mexican independence.
Morelia’s main industries are real estate, financial services, and tourism. It houses international food, film, and music festivals. The best time to visit is in October during the Morelia International Film Festival. Morelia is Mexico’s most-visited non-beach destination!
Places to Visit
|Government Palace||El Palacio de Gobierno|
|Morelia Cathedral||La Catedral de Morelia|
|Morelos House Museum||La Casa Museo de Morelos|
|Regional Museum||El Museo Regional|
|Rose Conservatory||El Invernadero de Rosas|
8. Guadalajara, Jalisco
Guadalajara has nicknames like the “Western Pearl” or “Rose City.” This is where Father Hidalgo declared the abolishment of slavery. It’s one of the 90 most productive cities in the world.
Although it’s Mexico’s tech hub, the city also relies on traditional industries like textiles and shoemaking. Guadalajara is the birthplace of mariachi music and hosts an annual book and film festival that attracts national and international crowds.
Visit downtown and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guadalajara, State Government Palace, Degollado Theatre and the legendary Hospicio Cabañas with José Clemente Orozco’s murals. Try a tasty torta ahogada, a Mexican sandwich made with a bread called bolillo. Ahogada means “drowned”—it’s submerged in tomato sauce.
9. Zacatecas, Zacatecas
Zacatecas’ economy is based on mining and pequeñas y medianas empresas (small and medium-sized companies).
The top tourist spots are the Rafael Coronel Museum and the Edén Mine. Don’t miss out on the Legends Tour, a bus tour that takes you to famous historical sites with narrators dressed up in colonial costumes!
Come to Mexico and Learn Spanish
The Freedom Trail is a colonial tour that will show you a different side of Mexico. But the language barrier can significantly reduce the richness of your travels. To experience the place like a local rather than a tourist, learn Spanish before your trip! Here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, our time-tested method speeds up your learning process!
Practice with our native-speaking teachers from Guatemala and join our student community of 24,000. We’ll tailor a Spanish package that suits your needs and goals. Check our affordable pricing and flexible programs. Prepare for your trip to Mexico by signing up for a free trial class today!
Ready to learn more about Mexico and Latin America? Check these out!
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- 10 Reasons to Learn Spanish in Guatemala
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- Unveiling Latino Student Success in Education