Every pocket of Mexico holds an ensconced gem. A diminutive town or village with fantastical architecture. A village with a cache of Royal legacies. A hamlet perched precariously upon a mountain outcrop, where time has seemingly stood still for several hundred years. For the first time in Mexico's exuberant and eventful history, a program incepted by the Tourism Ministry (SECTUR), hopes to breathe new life into areas flagging under the pressure of city tourism and identify a series of cultural, architectural and religious symbols, to revive touristic interest in such places.
The Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns Program) is an initiative developed by the Tourism Secretariat (SECTUR), working in collaboration with an amalgamation of regional and town governments across Mexico, to ignite new interest in the lesser seen areas of the country. Its aims encompass a wide range of long term objectives, however the program seeks to improve the preservation efforts, within areas deemed of cultural importance; promote lesser known locations of interest, which hold a particularly historic, legendary or even modern allure and work with local economies/ tourism enterprises to increase the flow of visitors to such areas.
In Mexico, a “pueblos magicos” is a term used to loosely define a village or town with great cultural or beatific value, including any aspect of it's character such as upheld traditions, festivals and ways of life that make it unique. Launched in 2001, the Pueblos Magicos program had already identified a series of 'off the beaten track' towns and villages thought worthy of the accolade “pueblos magicos.” By 2005, the tranquil town of Alamos (City of Portals) famed for its Gothic and colonial architecture; the city of Tepotzotlán within Estado de Mexico (Mexico State) and Real de Catorce (where Huichol pilgrims are famed to have congregated) all featured prominently. As of mid-2011, over 43 locations scattered throughout nearly every Mexican state have been awarded “pueblos magicos” status.
Download the Pueblos Magicos Program Guidelines (in Spanish, PDF).