In search for the lost paradise
Many thousands of years ago, in the geological past of our planet, an earthquake made a mountain of the sierra in the State of Hidalgo, break in two rocks fell forward and formed very high and deep stone walls that surrounded a fertile and paradise-like valley with multicolored flowers, rivers, lagoons and a sky so clear that you can see the big and shiny moon at nights.
The pre-hispanic inhabitants of this area adored the moon and thet is why they named the place: The place of the moon, Metztitlán.
This place that nature endowed with beauty, history made it spectacular. Today, aside from the wonderful vegetation and the incredible landscape and precious lagoon, there are four Augustinian religious complexes from the XVI century located in diverse points of the mountain.
This is Metztitlán, a place knowk by few, but declared a Biosphere Reserve because of the abundant animal life and plants that it contains. In many cases some species only exist in the lost valley. To get there you must exit Pachuca through Federal Highway 105, also known as the México-Tampico. The travel time by car is about an hour and a half from the city.
The road takes us to the picturesque town of Real del Monte, and continues towards Huasca de Ocampo, Atotonilco el Grande, always following the signs of Huejutla and Tampico. Passing the Venados River and the bridge with the same name, there is a deviation to Vega de Metztitlán.
Altough it is in the sierra, the landscape seems tropical. The cactus, dry and cold earth are exchanged for palm trees and a great variety of plants of warmer climates. A lost paradise in the middle of a mountain. After a half hour on the road, you can see the end of the gorge, and from there in the mountain, dominating the landscape there is a construction similar to a palace, the Augustinian convert of the Santos Reyes.
Faithful to the ecotourism concept, it is important to clarify that Metztitlán is a place where there is much to see, rather than to do. The landscape is the main attraction, as well as the constant contact with nature and the appreciation of animals and plants.
In this valley there are three hidden towns: Metztitlán, San Cristóbal and Santa María Magdalena.
In Metztitlán it is forceful to climb to the Convent of Los Santos Reyes, enclosed at the bottom of the mountain, and that can be see from afar. It is of Augustinian origin, from the XVI century, immense like a forrtress, with battlements and a hybrid architectonic style; a roman style is found on the inside. Outside there is a cross in a great courtyard, as well as the ruins of an old aqueduct and an open chapel.
In the inside there are painted glass windows, frescoes and baroque wood carved altarpieces behind the altar. Next to the temple there is a cloister patio where the monks used to live. You can walk through and explore the dark and mysterious passages, and also get to the choir and climb the stairs to the roof and bells. How many times have you been on the roof of a convent, standing next to the bells? From there you can see all the scenery and get the inevitable feeling of freedom.
Another religious complex is found in this same town, La Comunidad, in what today is the town jail. There is also a small convent with a cloister and temple, wich apparently was attacked often by floods. That is why another one was built on the mountains, althpugh smaller but with features similar to the Los Santos Reyes convent.
Another architectonic attraction is the building known as La Tercena, an example of the best architecture of the XVI century.
From Metztitlán the road goes on into the Vega, a visit to Eden that allows us to appreciate flowers never seen before, with all kinds of colors and trees with capricious forms. Through this road you will soon find a small temple at the edge of a rock. It is abandoned like a church, but it still works as a cementery, Ahead, the church of Santa Maria Magdalen Jihuico stands out imposingly, almost like the one in Metztitlán, with battlements and a silver baroque style, it is smaller, but it´s patio and cloister can be vivited.
Following the same road, we leave La Vega in a landscape that seems not to end. We pass by a bridge where there are indications to get to San Cristobal, and where aside from a minor convent, a narrow but safe road next to the mountain will lead us to the hidden Lagoon of Metztitlán, a perfect place to camp and practice fishing or simply enjoy nature.
This lagoon was formed many thousands of years ago when the earthquake that we mentioned before, destroyed the mountain and changed the course of the river.
Its broken geography certainly protected many species of animals in La Vega, to the extent that today this place is home to 93 types of birds, 16 types of mammals and many fish species. A unique fish/birds called achequiliche inhabits the Metztitlán laggon.
Vegetation is also exuberant, with 11 types of "agave", 12 types of herbs, and more than 60 species of dessert plants, some exclusive of this area.
In the historical terrain, this place also is important, it was a dominion where many towns in the area recognized the Lord of Metztitlán as the only ruler. This Place of the Moon was already powerful 50 years before the fundation of México Tenochtitlán. From the XV century on, the "mexicas" made several attempts to invade the "metzcas" (inhabitants of Metztitlán) but were unsuccessful. There are those that consider this lost valley to be Aztlán, the place from where the aztecs immigrated to the valley of méxico. A new activity proposal: nature, history, legend and adventure, all in the Vega de Metztitlán.
¡ To remember !
The climate is usually warm, so it is recommended that you wear adequate clothing. It is ideal to camp at the lagoon, but you may prefer one of the 2 or 3 small but nice hotels in Metztitlán, Taking a camera and video is a must.
Your car must be in perfect working conditions, because it is very difficult to find a way to repair it. Passing San Cristóbal and on the road to the lagoon, any vehicle can transit, but it is better to take vans, jeeps or vehicles with double traction.
You can find guides at the Municipalities to take you through the Biosphere Reserve, and receive adequate indications reguarding the animal species and vegetation.