Located in north central Mexico, Aguascalientes is a landlocked state that borders the states of Zacatecas and Jalisco. The state was named after the hot water springs that occur in its region. The majority of the state’s population is noted for its European ancestry—particularly Spanish and French. One of the country’s smallest states, Aguascalientes was admitted in 1857 when its territory was split from Zacatecas.
Aguascalientes has an area of roughly 2,169 square miles and, while small, it is one of the country’s most densely populated states. Aguascalientes boasts a population of 1,213,081 people. The capital and largest city in the state is also called Aguascalientes. The capital is regarded as the eighteenth most populous city in the country. The state is known for its booming industry as well as its vineyards and wineries. Moreover, it is touted as one of the most business-friendly places in the world. Other notable municipalities in Aguascalientes aside from the capital include Asentios and Calvillo.
Geography and Landscape
The state is located on the Anahuac Plateau. The plateau was once the hub of pre-Columbian Aztec people. The state enjoys a comfortable climate and is, of course, famous for its warm mineral springs. The climate is desert-like, although it experiences summer rains. As a central point in the nation, Aguascalientes is connected by highway and rail to the major cities of the nation. It’s also accessible by air to major cities in the U.S. Its location and transportation amenities have added greatly to its economic prosperity. The San Pedro River flows into the state from Zacatecas and helps irrigate the nearby crops. In the state’s desert regions, prickly pear and giant cactuses are common types of flora while the highlands boast forests of oak and pine. Animals that live in the state include eagles, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and raccoons to name a few.
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area of Aguascalientes was home to essentially three indigenous tribes: the Caxcanes, the Zacatecos, and the Guachichiles. When the Spaniard Nuno Guzman arrived in the region in 1529, he conquered many indigenous people. Their hatred and mistrust for the Europeans resulted in years of battle until a peaceful settlement was finally negotiated in 1593. Eventually, more Spanish moved to the region to settle and ranch. Due to disagreements with its neighbors, Aguascalientes did not enjoy a smooth road to statehood; it entered a period of sub-delegation with Zacatecas in 1804, but managed to negotiate independent territory status, which wavered throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, until it finally reached statehood in 1857. After the overthrow of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, the legendary heroes of the Mexican Revolution (Francisco Villa, Venustiano Carranza, and Emilio Zapata) met in Aguascalientes to choose a leader for the country—Eulalio Gutierrez, who served as Provisional President. In recent times, Aguascalientes has benefited from its central location. Its industries enjoy easy access to other parts of the nation and many international companies like Nissan and Xerox are choosing to invest in the state’s positive business climate.
In spite of its small size, Aguascalientes offers some big tastes in the form of its traditional and specialty dishes. Famous for its buttery tamales and guava-sauced hog ribs, Aguascalientes also boasts its own take on favorites like birria de barbacoa (a spicy stew) and chili Aguascalientes (meat and fruit-stuffed chili peppers). Its cuisine is invariably meat-based, but also includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, and local herbs. Meals like menudo (beefy soup with herbs) and lechon al horno (roast pork) are also popular with locals and visitors to the state alike.
People flock to the state each year for the San Marcos Fair, which is typically regarded as Mexico’s national fair. It’s held over three weeks in spring each year. While most tourism is based in and around the capital, the northern mining towns also attract visitors. Many travelers also like to explore the haciendas and historical sites located throughout the region as well as visit the hot springs for which the state is best known.
Aguascalientes, the capital city, is a favorite tourist destination due to its colonial architecture, historical sites, and cultural venues. Moreover, the city is known for its top rated hotels and restaurants as well as its entertainment and recreational options. Its main theatre is renowned as one of the most delightful opera houses in Mexico. While the outskirts of the capital are known for their industrial parks, the interior is filled with greenways and cyclist routes; in fact, Aguascalientes is regarded as the most bicycle-friendly city in the country. With its neighborhood traditions and celebrated attractions, the capital is a popular tourist center.
Other Things to See and Do
Real de Asientos: Founded in 1548, this old city is home to historic ruins and architecture as well as the state’s oldest cemetery. Visitors are encouraged to follow the El Piojito train route that delineates important sites around the city.
Museo de Aguascalientes: With its classically designed architecture, the city art museum is an important cultural center for the entire state. Built in 1903, it contains important paintings and sculptures by artists like Gabriel Fernandez Ledezma and Saturnino Herran.
Tepezala: An historic town on the state’s Silver Route, Tepezala contains historic ruins as well as traditional homes; the picturesque landscape is famous for eco-tours and even an eco-ranch.
The Capital’s Countryside: The beautiful lands outside of the city of Aguascalientes offer lots of activities for outdoor lovers like rappelling, rock climbing, bird watching, fishing, camping, and biking.
Calvillo: As the country’s largest guava-producer, this city features a myriad of vendors selling confections and liquors made from the guava. The city is regarded as the wealthiest in the state.
Aguascalientes Monumental Bullring: The historic practice of bullfighting thrives at the capital’s Monumental Bullring located in the city’s fair grounds.
Sierra Fria: This spectacular canyon is for its views and surrounding nature reserve. Located near the city of San Jose de Gracia, the reserve and canyon area are home to pumas, bobcats, wild boars, and falcons.