The name Queretaro is used to refer to both the city and the state. Our focus, however, is on the city located 124 miles (200 km) northwest of Mexico City, officially known as Santiago de Queretaro.
Queretaro is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and geometric grid which was built next to the winding roads of the native american population which had previously inhabited the area. It is one of the only places in Mexico where the Spanish built a settlement which co-existed side by side with the indigenous population.
The Spaniards reached this area in 1531 and quickly gained importance as a link between the rich mining cities (Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi) and Mexico City.
In 1726, the donations of a Spanish nobleman (Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana) made the most impressive engineering project in Queretaro possible . . . the aqueduct. It took a dozen years to build the 74 massive stone arches (finished in 1738) which continue to cary water 6 miles into the center of the city.
When America invaded Mexico and took control of Mexico City (1847), Santiago de Queretaro was declared the capital of Mexico. This lasted until the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed here in Queretaro (1848). Mexico was forced to cede the land which is now the western United States . . . and the former capital of Mexico (Mexico City) was once again, the capital.
In February of 1867, Maximilian I took the Imperial troops to Queretaro where he would make a stand against the Republican troops under Benito Juarez. The city was surrounded and Maximilian I would not escape with his life. He was executed by firing squad here on June 19th.
On February 5th, 1917, after yet another revolution (you need a score card to track them all) the constitution which remains to this day was drafted here in Queretaro.
So you see . . . Queretaro is full of the history of Mexico. That, and its location near Mexico City make it one of the most visited non-beach destinations in Mexico.