Tepotzotlán and the interesting Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Mexico

Tepotzotlán is one of the places we visited on our trip with children to Mexico. This is a beautiful city about 50 kilometers from Mexico City in which the presence of the National Museum of the Viceroyalty stands out.

We traveled there by car from the capital and without any setback we could leave the vehicle parked very close to the Plaza de la Cruz, in the very heart of the town. When we got out of the car we were very close to the tower of the well-known temple of San Francisco Javier, overlooking some low houses.

What to see in Tepotzotlán

The main tourist attraction in the small town of Tepotzotlán is found in the fabulous enclosure that houses the National Museum of the Viceroyalty. The history of the complex cannot be understood without the arrival and presence of the Jesuits in Mexico, although logically before their arrival the population was already a singular place.

Reliquias en el Museo Nacional del VirreinatoRelics in the National Museum of the Viceroyalty

If we look back, we know that in 1460 was founded the lordship of Tepotzotlán by Quinantzin III, and had constant wars with the tecpanecas of Azcapotzalco under the command of Tezozomoc. Yes, it sounds a little difficult to pronounce but that’s what names are like if you consult the history of Tepotzotlán.

It was not until the year 1520 that the Spaniards arrived in this region of Otomíes that was governed by Macuilxochitzin, who, by denying them hospitality, was forcibly taken by Hernán Cortés and his ruler was the Lord of Tenayucan.

Sala del Museo Nacional del Virreinato de TeopotzolánHall of the National Museum of the Viceroyalty of Teopotzolán

They are very interesting to know the circumstances and vicissitudes of Hernán Cortés in those years because he was involved in the famous flight from Mexico City on the Sad Night and later with his army very reduced culminated with victory the Battle of Otumba. All this happened in the aforementioned year 1520. If it doesn’t ring a bell, I recommend you investigate the history of these events full of battles, confrontations and clashes.

Capilla en el interior del museoChapel inside the museum

Shortly after the events we explained, on August 13, 1521, the Mexicas were officially defeated with the total seizure of Mexico City at the hands of the Spaniards, an event that marked the beginning of the period known as the viceroyalty.

The whole introduction serves to contextualize a little the National Museum of the Viceroyalty, a center that mainly praises the work and prowess of the first Spaniards to set foot on American soil and religious teachings.

Capilla en el interior del museoChapel inside the museum

The origin of the centre dates back to 1580 when the Society of Jesus arrived in Tepotzotlán and founded the Seminary of San Martin. Over the years, the space occupied by the Jesuits grew to form an authentic architectural complex made up of five courtyards, a vegetable garden, two mills, an inn and a temple. These are the spaces that since 1964, the year of its inauguration, form the National Museum of the Viceroyalty. Inside we find an extensive collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and everyday objects of the time. Most of the works have clear religious references and reflect the styles introduced by the Spaniards.

In the museum we observe in general the absence of a somewhat more critical vision with the arrival of the Europeans and a point of view closer to the first settlers of the place. But it is still worthwhile to pass through its rooms admiring all the works on display.

Escultura Santiago MatamorosSculpture Santiago Matamoros

Temple of San Francisco Javier

Attached to the museum is the temple of San Francisco Javier, with an incredible façade, brimming with shapes and sculptures, a clear example of the Baroque style typical of recharged Churrigueresque (of Catalan origin) that also proliferated in New Spain after standing out in places as prominent as the city of Salamanca.

Inside you will find some altarpieces that are not left behind in relation to the exuberance of the main facade. They are of a density and complexity that removes the hiccups. A very rich golden wall from which a thousand figures and decorative forms stand out from the base to find the highest point of the temple. They require a certain amount of time and concentration to assimilate their overflowing composition.

Interior del templo de San Francisco JavierInterior of the temple of San Francisco Javier

The Antiguo Colegio de San Francisco Javier in Tepotzotlán was one of more than 60 sites that make up the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro inscribed in 2010 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

More attractions in Tepotzotlán, Mexico

In contrast to the silence and wealth that fills the rooms of the Viceroyalty Museum or the temple of San Francisco Javier itself, very close is the hustle and bustle of the Municipal Market of the locality. It is always interesting a walk to observe what is sold and what is bought in the markets and the Tepotzotlán, although small, does not disappoint. Even more so if you go on an empty stomach, as street food and typical dishes abound in the market corridors and their smell invades everything.

Mercado Municipal de TeopotzolánFood stall at the Teopotzolán Municipal Market

In the vicinity of Tepotzotlán we were recommended to visit Arcos del Sitio but we were already thrown the time on top to cover the distance of approximately 30 km. Los Arcos del Sitio or Aqueduct of Xalpa is a monumental work of engineering carried out under the auspices of the Jesuits in the seventeenth century with the aim of transporting water to the area. The aqueduct reaches a height of up to 61 meters and a length of almost 450 meters, one of the highest in Latin America.

Cerámicas en los alrededores del museoCeramics in the vicinity of the museum

Tepotzotlán Accommodation

Our trip to Tepotzotlán was a day trip from Mexico City, back and forth. If on your visit you need accommodation you know that in the giant Booking there are always good options, also in Tepotzotlán and surroundings.

Photo Gallery of Tepotzotlán

Façade of San Francisco Javier Teopotzolán Temple, Mexico

Square on the outskirts of the temple of San Francisco Javier

Teopotzolán Town Hall

Altarpiece inside San Francisco Javier

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