With its lush mountains, artists, bo-ho clothing, crystals and the pyramid atop Tepozteco Park, mystical Pueblo Mágico Tepoztlán will bring you back to simpler time reminiscent of the hippie 1970s.
Tepoztlán means, "the place of the copper axe," referring to the axe that is held by the god Ometochtli-Tepoztécatl. Some of the archeological findings and the writings of Bishop Plancarte y Navarrette point to evidence of human habitation of the area from about 1500 BCE. The Xochicalco, Tolteca and Chichimeca cultures are all represented. In addtion, from the documents of Fray Diego de Durán we also know that the Xochimilca people lived here between the 13th and 16th centuries. In the 14th and 15th centuries, they were forced out by the Aztecs as they were consolidating their empire. Tepoztlán may have been a historic passing point on the route between the central highlands and the state of Morelos.
It is believed that Tepoztlán is the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent-god of the Aztecs. The origin of the Quetzalcoatl myth is often blended with the story of Topiltzin Cē Ācatl, the Lord of the Toltecs. Legends tell us that he proved himself as a warrior, then a priest, then a king, and finally was considered a divine human being. It is said that he ended human sacrifice and brought peace, prosperity and civilization to the Toltecs. Topiltzin Cē Ācatl Quetzalcoatl has been worshiped and beloved for many generations.
According to the Florentine Codex, the Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl would return, and although it has largely been dispelled as a post-colonial myth, some scholars still hold the idea that Moctezuma, the last Aztec emperor, believed that Hernan Cortéz was the second coming of Quetzalcoatl.
When the Spanish arrived in Tepoztlán, the take-over was swift and brutal. Bernal Diaz del Castillo chronicled the razing of town by Cortez. He wrote:
"The next day early in the morning, we left for Cuernavaca and found a squad of Mexican warriors who had left that town. The cavalry followed more than a league and a half away to lock them into another large town called Tepoztlán. "Here there were very good Indian women and plunder, and Cortes summoned the chiefs three or four times to come in peace because if they didn't come the town would be burned to the ground. They answered that they did not want to come, and so to set an example and create fear in the other people, he ordered the soldiers to set fire to half of the houses."
Tepoztlán today attracts tourists, artists, and mystics for its natural beauty, exquisite climate, and healing surroundings. In Tepoztlán, you can have your chakra aligned, purify your body and mind in a temezcal, hike up Tepozteco Park and find a blessing at the pyramid as you look out over the city.
Ex-Convento of Dominico de la Natividad
The Ex-Convento World Heritage Site was constructed by indigenous Tepoztecos between 1555 and 1580 and served as living quarters for Dominican priests during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is attached to the Parish of the Nativity, and dedicated to the Virgin of the Nativity. After the Mexican reform laws were implemented in the mid-19th century, the convent was abandoned and temporarily used as barracks for Emperor Maximiliano's army. Many of the original murals have recently been restored by the National Anthropology Institute using pre-hispanich methods.
Inside its cool walls you can escape the throng of the city center, see the beautiful frescoes and receive a geological and botanical orientation to the area. The convent warehouses a great quantity of documents related to the history and local culture of Morelos and an in particular Tepoztlán.
Artesans and Local Market
The market and tianguis cannot be missed. You will find fruits, vegetables, and other products, and if you go further in you can find the food stalls. On the weekends the craft market comes to the main street, with clothing (lots of tie-dye and bo-ho), jewelry, fine and functional art, toys, instruments, decorations, candles, just about anything you can imagine is there. You can also find a specialist who can read your tarot or align your chakra.
On March 21, you can celebrate the spring equinox at the top of the pyramid.
The Tepozteco Challenge
This dance event on September 8th marks the conversion of the indigenous people to Catholicism.
Celebrated for four days before Ash Wednesday, you can see the famous "Brinco del Chinelo" dance during Carnaval.
Huauzontles (deep fried vegetable related to the "goosefoot" weed)
Cecina de Yecapixtla (famous cured beef from nearby Yecapixtla)
Pulque (drink made from the fermented sap of the maguey)
Icecream! Tepoztlán is famous for its delicious ice cream.
Tepozteco Park and Temple
Climb 1200 ft over 2.1 miles to the pyramid in Tepozteco Park. Bring water, and at the top you can enjoy an iced limonada drink which you will certainly need to replenish your electrolytes! Together with other pilgrims from all over Mexico and Guatamala, you will end your hike at the pyramid, a small temple dedicated to the Aztec god Ometochtli-Tepozteco, the god of pulque, fertility, the harvest and the wind. There is some controversy about when the pyramid was built: early on between 1150 and 1350, in 1502 when the Aztec emperor Ahuizotl died, or later to in the same century to commemorate his death. At the top a shaman will give you the full story about the temple and a blessing as well. The views are spectacular! Don't feed the Coapis (a kind of raccoon that roams the area).
From Mexico City take the highway to Cuernavaca and then take the Oaxtepec exit. About 15 minutes later you will find Tepoztlán.
From the Mexico City Tasqueña metro station you can find various bus lines that go to Tepoztlán. Pullman de Morelos offers service every 30 minutes. Buses also run regularly from the Terminal de Sur and the Terminal Poniente.
Frequent buses run to and from various locations in Cuernavaca to the center of Tepoztlán as well.