Overlooked by the twin peaks of Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Mountain), Monterrey is the industrial and cultural capital of northern Mexico. Located 150 mi/240 km south of Laredo, Texas, this city has devoted some of its iron and steel profits to beautifying itself, and the jagged mountains that ring it on three sides make approaching Monterrey an amazing sight.

Founded at the end of the 1600s by a Spanish noble, the imprint of the Europeans can still be found in what's left of narrow streets, colonial patios and the city's cathedral and government buildings. By and far however, Monterrey is a modern city—the third-largest in Mexico—and a powerhouse of industry led by foundries and breweries.

The pace is fast there, and you'll not find the laid-back stance of most of the rest of Mexico. Because of this and it's proximity to U.S. markets, Monterrey is the most Americanized city in the country with plenty of transportation links connecting it to the border. Urban renewal projects have given the once drab town a more sophisticated appearance with the Gran Plaza, Fundidora Park and spectacular museums making it an attractive place to visit.

Monterrey has also invest a lot of energy into its institutions of higher learning and, today it ranks number one in Mexico in science and technical studies, resulting in a well-educated work force.

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