The Royal Road

Lead image for The Royal Road

The road back to Toluca from Querétaro has a couple of really beautiful spots. First up was the city of Aculco—one of the smaller cities I visited on this trip to Mexico. Its people specialize in handmade cheese, and every building is painted white—color is noticeably absent from the buildings. Shop and restaurant signs are simplified and standardized with black panels sporting hand-painted type and logos. Because of these things, it’s one of the more distinct places I’ve visited in the country.

The surrounding landscape is similar to Querétaro’s. Lots of rolling hills with farmland, and the occasional lake or river going through them. During the winter months, much of the vegetation takes on brown and yellow tones. In the spring and summer, it must look incredibly beautiful with lusher green tones all around.

Walking through the city, we got to experience Aculco’s narrow cobblestone streets, with architectural touches from the colonial period. We also got to see an old lavadero in use—a place where the townspeople can wash their clothes on stone slabs.

A short drive from the outskirts of Aculco is home to one of the sites of the Camino Real del Tierra Adentro. It’s a 1600-mile road built for trade in the late 1500s, extending all the way from Mexico City to San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico. You can still follow much of the trail today, since many of its stops have been declared as UNESCO heritage sites. At this site near Aculco, you can still see some of the stone road coming up from the ground.