Cuernavaca, Mexico, is unjustly overlooked by many international tourists and students. This is a terrible shame, for its rich cultural and historical legacies are second to none, and the beauty of the natural surroundings are truly spectacular. In fact, Cuernavaca is so appealing that the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian choose the city as the location for one of his famed summer residences. This, of course, speaks volumes: A man with the entire world literally at his disposal, and unlimited monetary funds, chose to spend his summers in this little city in Central Mexico. As the old saying goes, If it's good enough for him...
Of course, it makes perfect sense that people would be drawn to Cuernavaca: The average annual temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, leading locals to boast of their city's so-called eternal spring. And "its parks and gardens resplendent with tropical plants and flowers, [and] its charming center with colonial architecture still attract Mexicans and foreign tourists from all over the world. [And] because of its geographical position, Cuernavaca is also an ideal starting point for interesting trips in Central Mexico."
The Central Mexico region, of course, is famous for its history and beauty. "In this region, you can visit Mexico City, the nation's capital. There you can appreciate the fascinating architecture of the aging buildings in the city's Historic Center...In the Mexican heartland, you can also visit picturesque towns known for their fairs, convents and haciendas, such as Tlaxcala and Huamantla. Or you can experience the rush of the running of the bulls in Aguascalientes, where you can also see cockfights and visit the San Marcos Fair. Or you can visit colonial city Guanajuato, which hosts the famous Cervantino Festival. And then there's Puebla, the city of angels, with more than 200 churches. Finally, be sure to check out Queretaro's monumental aqueduct and Morelia's baroque cathedral, both declared UNESCO World Heritage sites."
And though it is surrounded by many fascinating and beautiful towns, Cuernavaca itself is full of the kind of attraction tourists from all over the world flock to. "Among the important historical and architectural attractions are the 16th century Cathedral, the Hernán Cortés Palace with famous murals of Diego Rivera, the Borda gardens and the richly adorned Aztec temple Teopanzolco...[T]he city center, the Zócalo, mixes native and foreign visitors with street cafés, numerous restaurants[,] and coffeehouses allowing you to spend tranquil moments in the busy center."
Cuernavaca is especially appealing to students: It is, beyond all else, a university town, and as such it bursts with the energy and excitement that all those students bring to the city and its cultural life. Because of the prevalence of students and academic institutions, many intellectuals and artists have made their home in Cuernavaca, and the result has been a city whose relatively small population (about half a million) still manages to be one of the most vibrant in Mexico, outside the capital of Mexico City. "[M]any cultural events have increasingly taken place in recent years, poetry readings, concerts, ballet and theatre performances and art exhibitions. You can also enjoy the discotheques and music bars until the early hours of the morning."
Many American universities have programs in Cuernavaca. Language study is one of the most popular reasons students choose to spend a semester or a year in this city, though there are a number of other ones they may choose to pursue, including anthropology, archaeology, and cultural studies, as well as the more typical college courses of economics, the sciences, and the arts.
In all, Cuernavaca is an exciting, intellectually stimulating, and beautiful place to study. Its unique combination of college-town excitement and intellectualism and its deeply rooted cultural history make it an excellent choice for study abroad. Or, if you happen to be the emperor of a very large swath of land extending over much of Europe, Cuernavaca isn't too bad a place to spend your summers, either.