Thursday, December 29, 2016

Taxco Part 9: Hotel Monte Taxco's dramatic vistas

The spires of Parroquia Santa Prisca, silhouetted against mountains and sky. I took this long-lens shot from Hotel Monte Taxco's restaurant terrace. Carole and I decided to pay it a visit after touring ex-Hacienda del Chorrillo (see Part 8). I will finish my series on Taxco with the hotel's stunning vistas. Monte Taxco is a mesa that looms hundreds of feet over Taxco. The hotel sits on the edge of the mesa's dramatic cliffs. Ex-Hacienda del Chorrillo is located not far from the station of a tram called the Teleferico. We decided to use it to reach the mesa's top and were rewarded with an exhilarating ride. To locate Hotel Monte Taxco and the tram station on a Google map of Taxco, click here.

El Teleferico

The Teleferico, heading up. The four-passenger cars make the round trip at regular intervals. Since there were no other occupants besides Carole and myself, I had full access to all the windows for photos. The Teleferico runs 8am - 7pm, Monday through Thursday, and 8am - 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Fares are $65 pesos ($3.15 USD) one-way and $95 pesos ($4.60 USD) round-trip for adults. Children younger than 11 pay $45 pesos one-way and $65 round-trip. In addition to the Teleferico, there are two other routes to the top. One is a cobblestone road called Calle Alfredo Checa Curi. The other is a foot trail. We chose to take the tram up and then walk down the road because those routes offered the best views.

Carole turns to look back at the Teleferico station. The tram car gained altitude quickly and the view improved as each moment passed. The ride was quiet and smooth, enabling a rapid-fire series of photos in all directions. I only include a few here to give you a taste.

As we rose toward the summit, more and more of Taxco came into view. The tram station is the building with the bright red roof in the lower center. In this shot, you can get a sense of the steepness of the slope to which the city clings.

Speaking of clinging... On our way up, we passed these houses, cantilevered onto the sides of a nearly vertical cliff. As land suitable for construction becomes scarcer, and views become increasingly valuable, builders resort to daring solutions. Taxco has had one earthquake in the last 30 days and 8 in the last 365. I'm not sure I'd want to be in one of these structures when a big one hits.

Hotel Monte Taxco

Hotel Monte Taxco can be seen on top of the mesa in the upper left. This shot was taken from the balcony of the Angel Inn restaurant, looking north across central Taxco. The cliffs below Monte Taxco are blackened by mineral stains. They drop hundreds of vertical feet. In the foreground of the photo is ex-Convento de San Bernardino de Siena, seen in Part 8 of this series.

The hotel is built so that most rooms have balconies with views of the city. We considered staying at Hotel Monte Taxco, but decided on Hotel Los Arcos instead (see Part 1 of this series). Although the views from Monte Taxco are breathtaking, and the hotel itself is both lovely and reasonably priced, it is quite removed from the center of town. This would have necessitated regular use of our car on the crowded and narrow streets. We always like hotels that are near the main plaza of a town, where most of the interesting things can be found. Those without a car would need to use the Teleferico or a taxi to get down to the city below. At Los Arcos, we could keep our car garaged most of the time and just walk around.

An arbor walkway extends out from the center of the hotel toward the cliffs. This would be a nice spot to enjoy the shade on a warm day. There are great views through the arches on either side of the walkway.

A view to the west from the arbor walkway. The red tile roofs cover part of the hotel's guest rooms. Each of the rooms faces the city far below.

View to the east from the walkway. Here you can see the pool and, above it, some of the rooms. To the right of center, under the tile roof, is the terrace of the restaurant. Carole and I decided to stay for lunch and picked a table between the two columns on the far left of the tile roofed area.

Carole sits at the table at the end of the restaurant terrace. At that moment, we were their only customers. This allowed us to choose the table with the most panoramic view.

The view from our table. Our server was very attentive and obliging. At my request he pointed out several landmarks so that I could zero in on them with my telephoto lens. The food was excellent and reasonably priced, but it was hard to pay it any attention with this spectacle before us.

La Vista Grande

View toward the south showing central Taxco. Parroquia Santa Prisca is in the upper right quadrant of the photo. The city spills down the steep slopes like water flowing downhill. It then pools out into a depression surrounded by low hills. White walls with red tile roofs are the dominant color-scheme, a style that has persisted for centuries. Taxco's many attractive qualities have enabled the city to achieve the coveted status of Pueblo Magico (Magic Pueblo).

Santa Prisca is surrounded by closely packed homes, hotels, and other structures. In the background, range after range of mountains extend into the distance. Towns and cities can became Magic Pueblos if they possess natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance. Taxco has all three of these qualities in abundance. Since the program was launched in 2001, over 100 Pueblos Magicos have been designated throughout Mexico.

As Taxco expanded over the centuries, one possible direction was uphill. The steep slopes of the surrounding hills are packed with structures, many of them dating to colonial times. Narrow cobble stone streets wind and twist throughout these neighborhoods.

Some neighborhoods extend right up to the base of awesome cliffs. These are among Taxco's most impressive natural features.

Some parts of the city extend down into the various arroyos that cut through the area. Building in arroyos is always risky. Heavy rains bring mudslides which roar through them with devastating effect. People who build, or buy properties, in arroyos always seem to think "it will happen sometime, somewhere, but never here."

A cobblestone road with hairpin turns connects Hotel Monte Taxco to the city below. After lunch, we decided to walk down this road, rather than take the tram. We were rewarded with more stunning vistas, as well as a look at some of the beautiful homes along the way.

View of Hotel Monte Taxco and hillside homes from the road below. The tall white structure in the middle of the hotel is an elevator. It is at the end of the arbor walkway that extends out from the hotel.

This completes Part 9 of my Taxco series. In the next couple of postings, we will visit the great, pre-hispanic ruin called Xochicalco, to the northeast of Taxco. I hope you have enjoyed the series as much as we did the actual visit. If you have questions or comments, please either leave them in the Comments section below or email them to me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim

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