Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

Best historic and colonial towns in Mexico

Colonial Mexico’s heritage is a rich and fascinating tapestry woven from a diverse blend of indigenous and Spanish cultures.

Spanning three centuries, from the 16th to the 19th, this legacy is an integral part of Mexico’s national identity, reflecting the country’s history, religion, art, architecture, and daily life.

Spanish conquerors brought with them a wave of cultural changes that transformed Mexico’s indigenous civilizations.

Spanish religious orders established missions and built churches and cathedrals that still dot Mexico’s landscapes, and serve not only as symbols of Spanish dominance but also reflect the religious and political power of the conquerors.

Mexico is a country with a rich pre-Hispanic culture. But it’s impossible to deny also the impact colonial history has left on modern-day Mexico and one of the most obvious ways it presents itself is through architecture.

Exploring Colonial Mexico

Mexico Colonial Route will take you through some of Mexico’s most historic and culturally significant cities, where you can admire the country’s stunning colonial architecture, and visit museums and cultural centers.

Here are the 20 most historic and significant colonial towns in Mexico.

Mexico City

One of the most striking examples of Mexico City’s colonial history is the Zócalo, the city’s main square, surrounded by some of the city’s most important colonial-era buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace.

Metropolitan Cathedral was built on the site of an Aztec temple, and its design reflects the Spanish influence.

Mexico City is also home to many other colonial-era buildings: churches, convents, and monasteries, many of which are still in use today. These buildings are notable for their intricate architecture and stunningly beautiful interiors.

Mexico City is a fascinating and vibrant city that is steeped in history and rich in colonial heritage. Its diverse neighborhoods and landmarks offer a window into the city’s past, and they are a testament to the city’s resilience and vitality.


Guadalajara is a beautiful colonial city founded in the 16th century. Guadalajara was once the center of commerce and culture in the region and remains an important cultural center to this day.

One of the most notable features of Guadalajara’s colonial heritage is its well-preserved historic center, which is filled with stunning colonial-era buildings, plazas, and churches.

One of the most famous landmarks in the historic center is the Cathedral of Guadalajara which serves as a symbol of the city’s rich history. The cathedral is a stunning example of Spanish Baroque architecture and features intricate carvings and frescoes.

Another important and significant landmark in Guadalajara’s colonial heritage is the Hospicio Cabañas, which used to be an orphanage and is now home to the Institute Cultural Cabanas.

Guadalajara is a must-visit for anyone interested in Mexican history and culture.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, a colonial town located in the central highlands of Mexico, is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and stunning natural beauty.

Founded in 1542, this charming town has a rich history and cultural heritage that draws visitors from all over the world.

The heart of San Miguel de Allende is its picturesque central square, known as the Jardín Principal, surrounded by beautifully restored colonial buildings, lively cafes, and charming shops.

The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the town’s iconic church, dominates the square, with its striking pink stone facade and twin bell towers. The church, built in the 16th century, is a testament to the town’s rich cultural heritage and a symbol of its strong faith.

San Miguel de Allende is a stunning colonial town with a rich cultural heritage, thriving arts community, and breathtaking natural beauty. Its charming streets, vibrant culture, and friendly locals make it a truly unique and unforgettable destination.


Guanajuato is a colonial town located in the central region of Mexico and is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. Founded in the 16th century, Guanajuato has a rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Guanajuato is known for its unique urban design, with narrow, winding streets that twist and turn through the town’s hillsides.

The colonial buildings, painted in bright colors and adorned with intricate details, line these streets, giving the town a whimsical and magical atmosphere. The town’s central square is surrounded by historic buildings.

Guanajuato has managed to maintain its authentic character and a strong sense of history. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or architecture, or just want to experience a unique and vibrant destination, Guanajuato is a must-visit.

Guanajuato is a colonial town with a rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. Its narrow, winding streets, historic buildings, and friendly residents make it a truly unique and unforgettable destination.


Oaxaca is a charming colonial town, known for its rich history and breathtaking natural beauty. Oaxaca has been a center of indigenous and colonial cultures for centuries and is considered one of the most important cultural destinations in Mexico.

Founded in 1532, Oaxaca City is famous for its vibrant street life, with colorful markets, lively street performers, and bustling street vendors selling everything from traditional crafts to delicious street food.

The impressive Oaxaca Cathedral, built in the 16th century, serves as a reminder of the city’s colonial heritage. The town is also home to several excellent museums, which showcase the area’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Oaxaca is a town that has something for everyone.


Morelia is a colonial town located in the heart of Mexico. It is known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture. The town was founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador.

Morelia’s colonial architecture is a highlight for visitors. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its well-preserved colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming plazas offer a glimpse into the past.

Visitors can explore the Palace of Justice, a beautiful building that was constructed in the 16th century and now serves as a museum, or the Cathedral of Morelia, a stunning baroque church that was built in the late 17th century.

Morelia is a charming colonial town that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and beauty.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the town’s rich architectural heritage, enjoying its vibrant cultural scene, or savoring its delicious cuisine, Morelia is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

If you’re looking for a town that will transport you back in time, Morelia is the perfect destination for you.


While many of what we now consider Mexican colonial cities were already established when the Spanish arrived, Puebla was actually one that the Spanish themselves founded, making it far more European in feel than many of our other entries.

But why did they bother creating it in the first place? Well, Puebla’s location was designed to be strategic, connecting the port cities of Acapulco and Veracruz.


Modern-day Querétaro is now a thriving yet calm city situated at the heart of one of Mexico’s smallest states.

However, in the Colonial Era it was considered the ‘third city of New Spain’ and actually (kind of) played a huge role in ending the Spanish rule over Mexico.

How? Well, it was in Querétaro where the first plots for Mexican independence were put in motion; so, if you’re into Mexican history, Querétaro makes for an unmissable destination.


Taxco in the present day is a charming city, which (not unlike Guanajuato) is arranged in a somewhat higgledy-piggledy manner, with cobbled streets that wind around corners and definitely don’t stick to any logical pattern.

It was also once one of the most important mining towns in the country, known for silver. Well… it still is known for silver, except nowadays you can just buy it rather than digging it up. Handy.


We’ve already touched on Veracruz, but that wasn’t the only important port city that had a historic role during Spanish rule.

No, there was also Campeche. Now often overlooked by visitors, despite charming pastel facades and a laidback vibe, Campeche was once awash with pirates (hence the huge fort which now encases the walled city).

The colonial influence can be seen in both that aforementioned wall, as well as buildings throughout the historic center.


Mérida enjoys a prime location on the Yucatán Peninsula and, while managing to keep the Mayan culture alive even in the heart of the city, also displays clear signs that it was once colonized by the Spanish.

For example, the buildings are blatantly European in design (in fact, there’s even a street that was inspired by France’s Champs-Elysees) and the grid layout so typical of many Mexican cities really gives the game away.


Veracruz is one of Mexico’s most historic and important cities, principally thanks to its strategic coastal position and influential trading port. In fact, it was at the port of Veracruz where Cortés allegedly arrived, on Good Friday in 1519.

Nowadays though, Veracruz is less about fighting off pirates and more about its lively African- and Caribbean-influenced culture. As you’d imagine, there are also plenty of colonial buildings to visit too, like the Casa de Cortés.


Cuernavaca, a.k.a. the city of eternal spring, might not seem like it was once hugely important, given that it’s now less of a tourist attraction, and more of a place for Mexico City to retire to for a weekend.

Even so, Cuernavaca is historically very significant and to this day houses a classic example of colonial architecture—the Palacio de Cortés. Fun fact: The Spanish built it smack bang atop an Aztec pyramid.

San Luis Potosí

San Luis Potosí is another underrated colonial destination that visitors are quick to write off, favoring instead the lush Huasteca Potosina further east.

However, if you’re interested in immersing yourself in Mexican history, then you should strongly consider stopping by.

While the appeal of San Luis was once, like Taxco, the plentiful silver mines, the draw nowadays comes in the form of the spectacular and well-preserved colonial architecture on display in the historic center.

Use these tags to read more related posts and reviews:
Let us know if this article was useful for you