Teul de Gonzalez Ortega
There's a new wave of excitement rippling through El Cerro Del Teul. Reeling from the news of its inclusion, as the 40th town upon the Pueblos Magicos Program at the start of 2011, the celebratory spirit shows no sign of dying down. Predictions of a boom in tourism and inflated economies are rife, and as well they should be, for this Eden-like municipality is one of the most stunning undiscovered corners within the Southern hemisphere of Zacatecas state.
Located within the North-Central heart of Mexico, Zacatecas state is revered for its colonial beauty and collective of World Heritage Sites. Zacatecas city features a bizarre urban layout, with twisting portales and meandering lanes likening it to a labyrinth of colonial treasures. Its defining feature, the 18th Century baroque styled Catedral de Zacatecas is regarded one of the last Churregueresque structures to have been built during Spanish colonization.
Concealing a few colonial treasures of its own is the understated town of Teúl de González Ortega, situated in the far North Zacatecas state, bounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental. Affectionately dubbed the “city of gardens” by natives, Teúl de González Ortega is an efflorescent miniature of the breathtaking city, alike in all but economy and environs. Here, the boundaries of the town are invisible; a delicate urban landscape punctuated by greenery and agricultural plantations which seamlessly connect with the meadows of lavender and wildflowers. The temple of San Juan Bautista del Teúl peeps above the avenues of trees congregated around the main plaza, reflecting sunlight from its apricot hued stones across the red tiled roofs of the town. To locals, its dreamy baroque facade calls to memory a time when Teúl faced an uncertain future – completed at the height of the Revolution in the early 1800's.
With its high elevation amid the Sierra Madre Occidental, the climate of El Teul is fairly precipitous, making way for lush landscapes, thundering rivers and humid forests teeming with wildlife. The Tlatenalgo and “Ducks” rivers flow wildly down to two notorious dams – Manuel Coloca and Michael. The former is a beautiful lake reservoir, where Huichol Indians can often be seen venturing out upon wooden kayaks to cast their nets. Ruins of Chalchihuite settlements lie dotted among the swaying trees and inner rainforests – the most famous being that atop the hill of El Teul, where a complex of ceremonial buildings and ball courts remain impeccably preserved and wonderfully isolated. It is here the most recent developments in El Teul's archaeological history have occurred, with finds of jewelery, art and clay pots, thought to date back to 600 A.D. Hidden among the leafy vegetation of the subtropical rainforest, one can stand here and feel like the only person left on earth.