A hub for textile industries since 1863, Hidalgo's second largest municipal city has evolved greatly over the past fifty years. Buoyed by its repute for exceptional agricultural produce and diverse textile industries, economic progression has transformed the Chichimeca city of Tulancingo into a thriving and populous city, fast catching up with Hidalgo's state capital of the same name.
Located in the temperate South East of Hidalgo State, the esteemed city of Tulancingo is historically documented for being location of some of the oldest settlements in the Americas. Settled by ancient ethnic groups such as the Olmecs, Chichimecas and Xicalancas, relics of these Meso-American inhabitants can be found at Huapalcalco and El Pedregal – both under 10 km from the city. Nestled at the foothills of Tecolote Hill, the pyramids of Huapalcalco are heavily protected, owing to their affiliation with the mythical entity Topilitzin Quetzalcóatl. A feathered serpent god worshiped by the Toltecs, Quetzalcóatl earmarked Huapalcalco as the capital of the Toltec Empire in 100 C.E, however the large scale development at Tula put paid to his vision. Even so, Huapalcalco remains a key site in the growth of the empire with a well preserved plaza, ball court and several pyramids still relatively intact.
Modern day Tulancingo retains much of its 18th Century agricultural heritage, coupled with a smattering of colonial relics hinting at its brief flirtation with the Spanish. Settled at the foot of Cerro del Tezontle, beneath the Eastern Sierra Madre Occidental mountains, it has found touristic use as a passage to the Sierra Poblana and Gulf Coast resorts. Sierra Poblana includes the municipal pueblo of Huachinango, well known for its ancient forests and myriad of impressive waterfalls.
Head of the Tulancingo diocese, the Cathedral of St. Francis de Assisi is often the first landmark of the city to garner attention from tourists. The site was first consecrated in 1528 by Franciscan monks intent on spreading Christianity throughout the “wild” region. By 1788, the modest building had transformed at the hands of Spanish architect Damián Ortiz de Castro to align with accepted European style. Flanked by two great ionic columns of pink sandstone, beset with the image of St. John The Baptist, the gargantuan North door best exemplifies the mix of Porfirian and colonial influences popular during the 18th - 19th Centuries. The Jardin Floresta was designed upon much of the old monastery site, reflecting this ancient history through the inclusion of foundation stones and fountains that once decorated the Franciscan courtyard. Visitors will find a wealth of architectural relics scattered across urban Tulancingo, including La Expiración Chapel founded by one of the earliest Tulancingo friars (Juan de Padilla) in 1527; the Casa de los Emperadores, once home to emperors Agustin de Iturbide and Maximiliano I and the Jardin del Arte, on the site of the old Municipal Palace.
Renowned for its flourishing textiles industry, Tulancingo is an avid promoter of its arts and crafts heritage with over five central markets dedicated to locally manufactured/ handcrafted goods. Built on the former site of Plaza of the Count of Orizaba, the Mercado Municipal is by far the largest, housing a huge forum broken down into individual “tianguis” (outdoor bazaars). Handcrafted silverware dazzles in the never ceasing glare of the sun, reflecting the vivid colors of lambswool cashmere jumpers, woven cotton blankets and hand beaten leather goods. Once dubbed the “former conquerors' retirement home” during Spanish domination, Tulancingo has spent the best part of the 20th Century convincing the world there's far more to this city than just a graveyard of national monuments!
Museo del Ferrocarril – the only railroad museum within the Southern portion of Hidalgo State, Tulancingo's Museo de Ferrocarril captures an important era in the region's history through never seen before photography and documents found among the city's archives. Housed within Tulancingo's old train station (built in 1893) the museo has become a regional treasure for its brilliant narrated time-lines and plethora of recovered railroad signs and tracks. Open: Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4: 30 pm.
Cathedral of Frances de Assisi – beset within the spectacular Jardin Floresta, upon an elevated area of El Centro, the grounds of this 18th Century Cathedral afford spectacular views across the cityscape. Jardin Floresta captures the fascinating history of the Cathedral grounds (once the site of the first Franciscan monastery) with exposed foundations and several fountains from the 16th Century monastery. An interior of disarming architectural beauty, the Cathedral also houses some beautiful oil-work depictions of St. John the Baptist and the “Vision of The Angels” near the choir. Open: Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 3 pm.