May 192011

One of the Mexican Tourism Secretariat’s flagship programs is its “Magic Town” designation. This is a program that was long overdue when it finally began in 2001. Mexico’s Magic Towns (Pueblos Mágicos) range from tiny, almost undiscovered villages on the coast to sizable inland cities. What they all have in common is that they have some truly special cultural, historic or social importance.

Almost every state has at least one Magic Town; there are currently 41 scattered across the Republic,  with a further 70 seeking accreditation.

Towns accepted into the program have access to federal funds for publicity and improvements. For example, some of the towns have already relocated all those ugly wires, that despoil so many Mexican towns, safely underground, well out of sight. In all cases, a local committee oversees the projects, ensuring that local interests are always to the fore.

Musical floral clock in Zacatlán
Musical floral clock in Zacatlán

One of the latest additions to the list of “Magic Towns” is Zacatlán in the Sierra Norte of the state of Puebla. This town, often called Zacatlán de las Manzanas (Zacatlán of the Apples) is a regional, commercial center in highland orchard country.The town (altitude: 2000 meters or 6700 feet; 2010 population: 76,296 )  is perched on a ledge overlooking the River Laxaxalpa. It celebrates an annual Apple Fair in early August.

Zacatlán’s attractions for tourism include:

  • close proximity to stunning natural landscape, including the fascinating and photogenic tor-like rock formations known as Piedras Encimadas (Stacked Rocks)
  • history and architecture: Several historic buildings including a Franciscan Friary dating back to the 16th century
  • a manufacturer of ornamental clocks (including Zacatlán’s own unusual musical floral clock)
  • local cuisine which includes tacos de barbacoa, pan relleno de requesón, fruit wines and mole
  • handicrafts, especially earthenware and woolen items

All in all, a worthy addition to the list of Magic Towns!

Many aspects of tourism, including the concepts associated with sustainable tourism, are analyzed in detail in chapter 19 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.

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