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01.27.2010

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Apan Plains
Surroundings of Mexico City

The Apan Plains is a region of the Mexican plateau shared by the states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Puebla and Tlaxcala, located 60 kms north of Mexico City.

The region's long history dates back to prehispanic times, when there existed important teotihuacan and toltec population sites in which people used the fertile land to cultivate several species of plants, mainly the maguey, which name in nahuatl means 'the tree of wonders'. This reference should not surprise us after realising that many products were extracted from it such as ropes, textiles, paper, building materials and even pulque, Mexico's national drink.

The arrival of the Spanish conquerors, who divided part of the territories in the region between them following the 'encomienda' labour system, was the beginning of the gradual establishment of the haciendas.

The haciendas are large agricultural estates which represented the productive unit of the Mexican countryside during the time of the viceroyalty and throughout the 19th Century. The production of the fields was administered through them, from the planting of seeds to the sale of products in nearby cities. The haciendas in the Apan Plains were mainly focused on the production of pulque, so as to satisfy the demand of neighbouring states. With time, these properties accumulated great wealth which is reflected on their magnificent constructions characterized by the distribution of spaces focused on production efficency, but also on the owners' comfort, to the point where some of these estates could be considered the Mexican equivalent to European castles or palaces.

With the passing years this system generated major social issues because the lands where unevenly distributed and the conditions of the indigenous who worked the lands were unjust, all of which generated riots that echoed in the Mexican Revolution, after which, during the government of Lázaro Cárdenas, the hacienda system was abolished throughout the country, leaving most of these properties abandoned.   

Today, the Apan Plains surprise us with their beautiful cultivated landscapes which extend for miles and are dotted with the remains of once flourishing haciendas, some of them turned into hotels where one can enjoy every comfort and beautiful spaces. Among the haciendas in the region which produce pulque there's the Xala Hacienda, the San Lorenzo Hacienda (near Emiliano Zapata), the San Francisco Ocotepec Hacienda (near Apan) and the San Miguel Ometusco ex-Hacienda, which has been turned into a hotel.

Due to the Plains' proximity to Mexico City, one can go on a day trip to this region and visit its haciendas and little towns like Tepeapulco, Apan and Otumba, and a visit to the Aqueduct of Father Tembleque, near Tepeyehualco, is mandatory, as it's one of the most important in the country, as well as the 16th Century convent of Acolman, one of the first Christian constructions in Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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