The capital of the state of Veracruz is a colonial jewel.
Its picturesque location between the central highlands and the Gulf Coast provides a pleasant, spring-like climate with cool nights. From almost every point in the city you can see the snow-capped summit of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain. The name of the city comes from the Nahuatl, in which the composition xallapam means “spring in the sand”. An urban settlement was existing here already in pre-Hispanic times.
Xalapa became part of the Aztec Empire in 1460 and was “conquered” by Cortés on his way to Tenochtitlan in 1519. Until its decline in the 18th century, Xalapa was an important commercial centre of the Spanish colonial empire. In addition to the colonial architecture, the architecture of the city centre is characterised above all by the French-influenced style of architecture from the beginning of the 20th century. One of the main attractions for the visitor is the excellent “Museo de Antropología”. Its collection is among the best in the country and is part of the Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico’s second largest university. The heart of the city centre is the Parque Juárez with the Cathedral, the Palacio Municipal and the Palacio de Gobierno. Here you will also find numerous cafés and restaurants. Some of the narrow alleys that make up the charm of the city next to the squares and historical buildings are full of romantic legends.
Three carefully maintained parks, the Parque Paseo de los Lagos, the Parque Ecológico Macuiltépetl and the Jardín Botánico Clavijero create Xalapa’s green lung. Music lovers also have a great time in Xalapa. It is home to Mexico’s oldest symphony orchestra as well as several music clubs offering everything from salsa to jazz.
The surroundings of the provincial capital are no less interesting and diverse. Coffee is grown here, which thrives excellently in the mild mountain climate. The small town of Coatepec owes its popularity to its orchids, the ice cream produced here and the various locally produced fruit liqueurs. From the small, pretty village of Xico it is only a short walk to the 40-metre-high Texolo waterfall.
The former hacienda of the repeated president and general Antonio López de Santa Ana is today a museum, the “Museo Hacienda El Lencero”. Here visitors can immerse themselves in life on a 19th century hacienda. For a first-class panoramic view, you can drive as far as 50 metres to the summit of Cofre de Perote.