Atotonilco el Grande: A Unique Destination for the Outdoor Tourist

When you visit Atotonilco el Grande, you will realize that the splendor of history rises majestically before the wonders that this land possesses. It is a territory with an enormous diversity of natural beauties, also inhabited by cheerful and hospitable people always ready to welcome tourists.

Atotonilco el Grande: A Unique Destination for the Outdoor Tourist
Natural Landscapes, Architecture, and Culture at Atotonilco El Grande. Photos: Atotonilco el Grande

Atotonilco el Grande has everything you need to make the best of your trip; from picturesque haciendas where the luxury and bonanza of past centuries are preserved, to natural landscapes full of superb canyons that house stony rock formations where you can practice various adventure tourism activities, to the imposing Augustinian constructions, which are an indelible imprint of the mixture of cultures. You are invited to visit and take away the best experiences, enjoy the passage of time with a lot of history, sigh in awe of natural beauties and live the experience of Atotonilco el Grande.


Handicrafts give cultural identity to society. They consist of the transformation of raw materials obtained in the region and show the mastery of manufacturing techniques, they are part of a social-historical context.

In Atotonilco el Grande, a great variety of handicrafts are made from bejuco, reeds, willow, and palm branches, such as cages, baskets, baskets, hats, and flutes, mats, and furniture. They also make embroidered garments of pepenado and Tenangos embroidery.

Community Museum

"El Jagüey". Located in the center of Atotonilco el Grande and an emblematic place, its objective is to disseminate the representative cultural heritage of the municipality, addressing aspects of the general history with an emphasis on the collection of books by Dr. Antonio Peñafiel and Víctor Manuel Ballesteros, a photographic collection of the population and mention of the world heritage housed in that municipality: Geopark, gastronomy, charrería.

El Comalillo Dam in Atotonilco el Grande.
El Comalillo Dam in Atotonilco el Grande. Photo: Moises Hernández.

Comarca Mine Geopark

The Geopark is integrated by 31 geosites of geological, biological, and cultural interest. The Comarca Minera Geopark is a UNESCO decree and is integrated by 31 geosites of geological, biological, and cultural interest, in Atotonilco el Grande there are three of them.

Metztitlán Ravine Biosphere Reserve

The Metztitlán Ravine Biosphere Reserve is a natural protected area with an area of 96,042.94 ha, located in the central-eastern part of the state of Hidalgo. It is located in the geographic and cultural region of Hidalgo known as the Sierra Baja, where the landscape is not precisely of high hills or sharp mountains, but rather a plain that suddenly seems to sink into its ravines and canyons.

Amajac Hot Springs

Located in the northwestern end of the Comarca Minera Geopark, this geosite is the gateway to one of the 12 physiographic regions of the State of Hidalgo: the Sierra Baja. The faults that acted during the distension phase causing the movement of the valley and the formation of the ancient lake are the same ones that today control the deep circulation and ascent of the thermal waters of Amajac.

Ex-Convent of San Agustin

The temple and ex-convent of San Agustin, in Atotonilco el Grande, is considered the first Augustinian construction in the State of Hidalgo. Its foundation dates back to 1536, but the construction by order of Fray Juan de Sevilla took place between 1542 and 1562. It is of plateresque style, its main altar consists of a neo-classical baldachin and mural paintings. The pictorial works of the staircase cube that show St. Augustine surrounded by the Greek and Latin classics stand out.

Sanctorum and Puente de Dios

Sanctorum comes from the Latin SANC TORUM which means: "Place of All Saints". It is an indigenous community of Otomí origin where there is also a chapel from the XVII century.

In its chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, an image of possibly the seventeenth century is preserved, it is an image very similar to the one housed in the chapel of Santa Maria Amajac. In the past, it was said that both images had the good fortune to change towns, so the one from Sanctórum appeared in Amajac and the one from Amajac in Sanctórum.

Within the limits of the community of Sanctorum in Atotonilco el Grande and the community of Mesa Chica belonging to the municipality of Actopan, there is a natural site known as Puente de Dios, which is a system of caverns that reach a height of between 40 and 50 meters high and which are connected through a subway river.

Exconvent of Atotonilco el Grande is next to the church. Guided tours are available.
Exconvent of Atotonilco el Grande is next to the church. Guided tours are available. The entrance is through the sacristy or back of the church.

Adventure Tourism

Atotonilco el Grande has a variety of natural sites for different types of tourism activities; in the region of the Barranca de Metztitlán Biosphere Reserve, you can go on 4x4 vehicle tours on a photographic safari and enjoy the view of the imposing canyons and travel along the course of the Venados River. Near the center of the town, there are other rivers such as the Amajác where you can also go hiking or mountain biking, in the community of Sanctorum is Puente de Dios, which is a system of caverns connected by a subway river.


Santa María Amajac

Balneario Santa María Amajac, also known as Los Baños de Amajac, is located in a pleasant and quiet natural area of Hidalgo, where you can enjoy the weather and delicious hot springs. Amajac is one of the best alternatives to spend the weekend, especially if you are traveling with the whole family. Its great tradition, its excellent facilities, and the captivating atmosphere that defines it make it an indispensable option for those who visit the territory of Hidalgo. In addition, 5 minutes from the spa is the center of the town where you can see the remains of an ancient Augustinian construction of the sixteenth century.

El Bañito

El Bañito is a tourist complex located in the municipality of Atotonilco el Grande, a favorite place for travelers and vacationers for its lush vegetation and crystal clear water pools.

Panoramic view over center of Atotonilco el Grande.
Panoramic view over center of Atotonilco el Grande.


Hacienda de San Juan Tezahuapa

Known by few and unknown by many, the Hacienda de San Juan Tezahuapa is one of the few mining constructions that exist in Atotonilco el Grande. Located on the banks of the Amajac River, it still preserves part of its old church where remains of the white quarry stone with which its façade was ornamented and possibly brought from Tezoantla in Real del Monte can be seen.

Hacienda de San Pedro Vaquerias

The Hacienda de San Pedro Vaquerias is located on the plateau of the same name, for the year 1767 the Royal Treasury expropriated their possessions to the Jesuits before expelling them from the kingdoms of Spain, for making politics against the king. Thus, one of its haciendas, San Pedro Vaquerías, passed into the hands of Count Pedro Romero de Terreros, who was originally from Cortegana, Spain.

Ex Hacienda El Zoquital

In 1860, General Rafael Cravioto acquired the hacienda of El Zoquital, nowadays it is dedicated to the breeding and reproduction of sheep. The big house still preserves a Moorish style arch in its main entrance, the paintings in the corridors are decorated with a French-style very typical of the Porfiriato period, in the kitchen, there are three small doors of a neogothic style. It has other spaces such as a school, barns, stables, halls, and rooms for the housing of some employees.


Within the typical gastronomy of the municipality, you can taste the gualumbos, cactus worms, quintoniles, huitlacoche, mutton barbecue, pork carnitas, green and red mole, green, red, and tomato tamales; and its restaurants offer seafood and regional dishes. In addition, fried foods are prepared with piloncillo and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and peanuts.

Also, tepache, pulque, and liquor drinks are made with apples. The bread of Atotonilco el Grande is very famous, especially its cocoles. There are simple cocoles or cocoles filled with cheese and cajeta. You should also try the camarones, which are bread stuffed with pineapple, walnut, and cinnamon, or the migueladas stuffed with figs and coconut. The typical drink is the requintada, a green drink made from wormwood, anise, mint, and brandy. This drink is used to cure stomach ailments.

Don Liborio Olguín, an artisan from the community of El Contadero in Atotonilco el Grande.
Don Liborio Olguín, an artisan from the community of El Contadero in Atotonilco el Grande, where he makes handicrafts made with wicker and willow sticks. Photograph by Edgardo Ángeles.

Augustinian chapels

In addition to the former convent of San Agustín in the communities surrounding the municipal capital, there are other more modest religious constructions, but they are also examples of colonial architecture.

Church of Santa Catarina. Located in a community of the same name. In the center of the hamlet of Santa Catarina stands this Augustinian complex consisting of a church, two small rooms, an atrium, an ossuary, and the bell tower. The temple is a single nave and faces west as is common among the buildings of the sixteenth century.

Chapel of San Nicolas el Xathe. Although it is already in ruins, it includes the temple and the curial house composed of four unroofed pieces, where you can still observe remains of mural painting that alludes to angels, zoomorphic figures, and the shield of the Augustinian order.

Church of San Martin. Located in a community of the same name. The temple has a single rectangular nave, covered with a barrel vault reinforced with former arches. Its construction dates from the XVI century but it was rebuilt in the XVIII century when the bell tower was added.

El Bañito Hot Springs is an increasingly known and visited spot in Atotonilco el Grande.
El Bañito Hot Springs is an increasingly known and visited spot in Atotonilco el Grande.

History of Atotonilco el Grande

The name Atotonilco is of Nahuatl origin and its roots are: atl, "water"; totonqui "hot", and co, "in" The meaning is "place of hot water". To differentiate it from other places that had the same name, in ancient times it was known as "Huei-Atotonilco", which means Atotonilco el Grande, since the "Huei", also in the Náhualt language, comes from "Huehuetl", which means big or old. This is how through time the Náhualt name has been preserved, in this case, translated into Spanish.

The oldest material vestiges of the men who inhabited these lands come from the Upper Preclassic horizon (200 BC-800 AD), and consist of clay figurines of Teotihuacan influence. Archaeological remains can be found in places such as the ranch "El Tinacal" and the neighborhood of "Los Tepetates".

Atotonilco, today known as Atotonilco el Grande, is registered in the Codex Mendoza as a conquered town and tributary of the Mexica since in the year 1440 Moctezuma the Elder subdued 33 towns under his power.

On August 13, 1521, Tenochtitlán fell under the arms of the Spaniards, and surely, soon after, Atotonilco was also subdued. It was granted in encomienda to a cousin of Hernán Cortés, named Pedro de Paz, who was born in Salamanca, Spain, and benefited from a tribute that the indigenous people of Atotonilco gave him. The tribute consisted mainly of grains and other foodstuffs.

These delicious homemade cookies are known as "frutas" in Atotonilco el Grande and are a must.
These delicious homemade cookies are known as "frutas" in Atotonilco el Grande and are a must during the Day of the Dead season.

Traditional festivals

There are two annual fairs, the main one is held in honor of the town's patron saint: San Agustín and takes place for several days around August 28th. Different events are organized such as charreadas, cock fights, horse races, sports competitions, dances, and evenings. There are also mechanical games and food and candy stands.

As part of this festival, the Cocol Festival is held, where the different bakeries of the municipality that make Cocol take part. The other annual celebration is called Feria del Calvario, celebrated on the first Friday of Lent in honor of the Lord of Tezoquipan, a crucifix that is venerated in the chapel of Calvario, along with these celebrations also takes place the Turkey Mole Festival.

Other celebrations that are also deeply rooted are Holy Week with liturgical activities that refer to the life, death, passion, and resurrection of Christ. Atotonilco el Grande is the birthplace of good charros, who have raised the name of the municipality very high in both state and national competitions.

Last but not least, the celebration of the Day of the Dead, which like the charrería, is part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, has been gaining much relevance for a couple of years since there been a tianguis of expo-sale of products to place the offerings in homes.