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Acambaro is a city and municipality in the southeastern Mexican state of Guanajuato, on the banks of the Lerma River. It is a small town with serene tree-filled squares and an extensive and original architectural heritage.

Acámbaro was the first village founded in the state of Guanajuato.

Acámbaro is the oldest of the 46 municipalities of the state of Guanajuato and it covers an area of 867.67 sq km and includes many small outlying communities, the largest of which are Iramuco and Parácuaro.

Worth visiting the impressive Templo y Convento de San Francisco and the famous Fuente Taurina (Bullfighting Fountain). The Aqueduct, popular amongst photographers, and the 9-arches Stone Bridge were built in 1528.

Also worth walking up the Hill of the Bull, which dominates the city of Acambaro, to be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view over the city as well as the whole valley.

Acámbaro is noted as a major railway junction, a local transport hub, and the origin of the nationally famous Acámbaro bread.

Origin of the Name

The city was founded with the name San Francisco de Acámbaro.

The word Acámbaro is derived from a Native American term meaning “place of magueyes”.


The first inhabitants of this area belonged to the Chupicuaro culture, one of the oldest in Mesoamerica.

Their origin is estimated to be from 1200 B.C. In this region, there have been valuable archaeological finds of ceramic of incredible beauty that are now exhibited at the local museum.

The city was founded on September 19, 1526, by the cacique Don Nicolás de San Luis Montañés, with the name San Francisco de Acámbaro. It was the first Spanish town in what is now the state of Guanajuato.

The evangelization process was undertaken by Franciscan friars, who also constructed splendid structures that remain standing today, such as the Templo del Hospital (Hospital Temple), an aqueduct in the Mudéjar style (1527), and a stone bridge over the River Lerma (1750).

The first bullfights on the soil of New Spain were held in Acámbaro, and the Fuente Taurina fountain in the city’s plaza commemorates the introduction of the sport to Mexico.

It is also a unique city in Mexico with a colonial-origin fountain dedicated to bullfighting.

Acámbaro is the only city in Mexico that had a fully intact colonial-era aqueduct until recent times, as it has been destroyed with the construction of houses and streets in Colonia San Isidro.

The 18th century brought prosperity to Acámbaro. During that time important religious and public buildings were constructed. Beautiful temples, bridges, and particular houses were left as remnants of the city’s colonial architecture.

An important event in the history of Mexican independence took place in Acámbaro.

Don Miguel Hidalgo stayed there on October 22, 1810, and brought a ceremony that declared Acámbaro military quarters for the Ejército Grande de América (Grand Army of America).

Hidalgo was given the title of Generalísimo de las Américas (Grand General of the Americas).

That same day, a parade of eighty thousand insurgents took place, that demonstrated the speed of growth of the movement: one month prior on September 16 just 800 men responded to the Grito de Dolores and raised arms against the Spanish in Dolores Hidalgo.

Because of its strategic location, Acámbaro was the key to the development of the railway in Mexico and had a major junction, yard, and shop facility for the National Railways of Mexico (The rail lines are now owned by Kansas City Southern de Mexico).

Acámbaro was the home of the only full-scale locomotive repair facility in Latin America that was capable of constructing steam locomotives.

In 1944 Acámbaro’s mechanical workshop built La Fidelita 296, a steam engine that is a symbol of a time in the history of the Acambarense society. La Fidelita is now on display as the cornerstone exhibit of Acámbaro’s railway museum.

Another souvenir of Acámbaro’s age of steam is a large model locomotive on an elevated platform in the center of a major highway intersection east of the city.

The model engine was originally intended to be placed in a church as thanks by railway workers to the Virgen del Refugio (patron saint of the city) for bringing prosperity and jobs to Acámbaro.

However, the model would not fit through the doorway of the church.

Consequently, it was decided to mount the model outdoors.

Tourist attractions & Sightseeing

Visit the magic town of Acámbaro with its unique churches and architecture. Explore Acámbaro’s streets and enjoy the atmosphere.

  • Bullfighting Fountain (“La Fuente Taurina”) or Pila del Aguila.
  • Templo del Hospital dates back to the 16th century.
  • Templo de Guadalupe dates back to the 18th century.
  • Templo de San Francisco dates back to the 18th century.
  • El Acueducto (“The Aqueduct”), whose arcs are different among themselves.
  • El Paseo de la toma de Agua is a beautiful ravine with arcs and roofs at its bottom.

To the north of Acambaro worth visiting:

  • The archaeological site of Chupicuaro
  • The Solis Dam
  • The Cuitzeo Lagoon
  • Obrajuelo – a town located 15 km from Acámbaro, on the slopes of the Celaya-Acámbaro highway
  • Agua Caliente Spas with thermal waters


Museo Waldemar Julsrud

Acámbaro has been notable as a point of controversy in the field of archeology as the source of the Acámbaro figures, a collection of about 32,000 clay figurines discovered by German archaeologist Waldemar Julsrud in 1944 near the city’s most prominent landmark, the Cerro del Toro (Bull Hill).

The figures are claimed to be hoaxes, as some of the figurines resembled dinosaurs (thus implying that man and dinosaurs co-existed) and their discovery is used by some as evidence to support creationism.

Many of the Julsrud finds are now on display at the Museo Waldemar Julsrud.

Museo de Chupícuaro

Less controversial archeological artifacts are on display at the Museo de Chupícuaro (also known as Museo Fray Bernardo Padilla), documenting the history of the Chupícuaro people, and the Museo Local de Acámbaro, which has over 4000 relics relating to local Mesoamerican cultures.

The Museo Local also contains paintings related to colonial Mexico and the War of Independence.

Acámbaro figures

The Acambaro figurines are almost 33,000 small ceramic figurines believed to have been found by Waldemar Julsrud in 1944 in Acambaro. The figurines resemble dinosaurs and are sometimes called anachronisms.

Some have put forward the existence of the figurines as compelling evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans, in an attempt to challenge scientific dating methods and potentially support a literal interpretation of the creation narrative in Genesis.

However, there is no known reliable evidence that the Acámbaro figurines are actual ancient artifacts, and many question the motives of those who defend their validity.


The figurines were discovered by a German immigrant Waldemar Julsrud who came across the figurines while riding a horse and hired a local farmer to dig up the remaining figurines, paying him for each figurine he brought.

The farmer brought him more than 32,000 figurines, which included depictions of everything from supposed dinosaurs to peoples from around the world, including the Egyptians, Sumerians, and “bearded Caucasians.”

The figures attracted little attention from scientists and scientists, and when Julsrud began to argue that they were accurate representations of dinosaurs created by ancient society, he only distanced himself further from serious scientific research.

However, the tabloids and popular media covered the story, and these figures gradually became famous.

Archaeologist Charles C. Di Peso worked for the Amerind Foundation, an anthropological organization dedicated to the preservation of Native American culture. He examined the figurines and concluded that they were not authentic.

He concluded that the figurines were indeed fakes: there were no signs of age on their surfaces; dirt did not accumulate in their cracks, and although some of the figures were broken, not a single piece was missing, and not a single broken surface was worn out.

Moreover, the stratigraphy of the excavation clearly showed that the artifacts were placed in a newly excavated pit filled with a mixture of surrounding archaeological layers.

Di Peso also learned that a local family had been producing and selling these figurines to Julsrud since 1944, supposedly inspired by films shown at the Acambaro Cinema, local comic books and newspapers, and affordable day trips to the National Museum of Mexico City.

Others, however, argued that Di Peso would not have been able to conduct a thorough investigation during the four hours he spent at Yulsrud’s house. Charles Hapgood, a pioneer of pole shift theory, became one of the theory’s most famous and dedicated proponents.

Other supporters included Earl Stanley Gardner, creator of the Perry Mason character, who stated that the 32,000 figurines could not have been created by one person or group of people and that the figurines were not a hoax.


Attempts have been made to date the figurines using thermoluminescence (TL) dating. The earliest results from tests conducted when TL dating was in its infancy suggested a date around 2500 BC. However, later trials refuted these findings.

In 1976, Gary W. Carriveau and Mark K. Hahn attempted to date 20 Acambaro figurines using TL dating. They found that the figurines were fired at temperatures ranging from 450 °C to 650 °C, contradicting claims that the figurines were fired at temperatures too low to be accurately dated.

However, all samples failed the “plateau test”, which showed that the dates obtained for the Acambaro figures using standard TL high-temperature dating methods were unreliable and lacked any chronological significance.

Based on the degree of signal regeneration found in the re-measured samples, they estimated that the figures tested were produced approximately 30 years before 1969.

Gastronomy & Cuisine

Pan de Acámbaro (Acambaro bread), Acámbaro’s most famous culinary export, is a bakery product similar to Jewish Challah (it is supposed that the similarity is not coincidental).

The largest of the six city bakeries devoted to the production of Pan de Acámbaro is Tio Sams (Uncle Sam’s), which claims credit for its invention.

How to get there?

From Mexico City

Buses from Mexico City to Maravatio: $15-$16 (2:30/2:50 hours) run just 3 times a day.
Then taxi from Maravatio to Acambaro $35-$45 (0:36 min).

Buses from Mexico City to Acambaro: $8-$17 (2:30/2:50 hours) run every 30 min.

Taxi or car from Mexico City to Acambaro takes just 2:45 hours.

From Morelia

Buses from Morelia to Acambaro: $3-$5 (1:30 hours) run hourly a day.
From Morelia to Acambaro in taxi: $70-$85 (0:55 min).

From Queretaro

Buses from Queretaro to Amealco: $2-$4 (0:50 min) run hourly.
Buses from Amealco to Acambaro: $3-$5 (1:35 hours) run every 30 min.

Then taxi from Queretaro to Acambaro is $90-$110 (1:30 hours).

More buses

Salamanca – Acambaro just via Morelia or Queretaro
Patzcuaro – Acambaro just via Morelia
San Miguel de Allende – Acambaro just via Queretaro

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