Queretaro is the well-to-do capital of an agricultural state, and doesn't trumpet itself as a tourist destination. This, however, is its charm. The city abounds with attractions—colonial buildings, pleasant shaded plazas and cultural events—and you can explore them yourself through the alleys and cobblestoned streets.

On approaching the city, the first thing you'll notice are the long, looping arches of the 18th-century aqueduct that still carries water across a dusty valley. Unlike many Mexican towns, Queretaro doesn't have one central plaza: It has five squares with flower gardens and trees that are frequent venues for music and dance festivals.

Queretaro was a base for the conspiracy that led to the War of Independence, and the Museo Regional features many exhibits from that time. The Casa de la Corrigedora, now the state government building, was once the home of conspirator Dona Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, wife of the local regent. You can visit the room where she was kept under house arrest.

Queretaro's many churches and monasteries are large and many of the architectural styles were imported from Spain. The restored Convento de la Santa Cruz served as a prison for the ill-fated Emperor Maximilian in 1867. Today, a guided tour re-creates these turbulent events as well as the domestic life of the monks who lived there in the 1700s. If you feel a strong urge to catch a bullfight, there is an active bullfighting ring there with shows several times a year.

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