The area where the city of Querétaro now stand was inhabited by the Otomi people from around 200 CE to mid-1400 CE before the Otomi fell under the rule of the Aztec Empire. However, before they became part of the Aztec Empire, the Otomi were able to establish cultural centers, such as the ceremonial hub at the top of the mountain known as El Cerrito, which can still be visited today.
In the early-1500s, the Spanish arrived and, with the help of some of the evangelized Otomi people, were able to drive the Aztecs out of the city. The Otomi leader at the time, Conin,converted to Catholicism, changed his name to Fernando de Tapia, and founded the city Santiago de Querétaro on July 25, 1531.
Historians believe there was an eclipse during the battle between the Spanish forces and the indigenous Chichimeca population resisting the conquest. Members of the Spanish forces claimed to have seen the image of St. James, patron saint of Spain, during this eclipse, which they believed led to the surrender of the Chichimecas. The city was named Santiago (St. James) de Querétaro by the victorious Spaniards.
The city of Querétaro would later become instrumental in the War for Mexico’s Independence. In September of 1810, Spanish forces learned of the upcoming rebellion and planned an attack on the rebel headquarters. Before that could happen, Josefa Ortega de Dominguez, or La Corregidora, who was the wife of the sitting mayor of Querétaro, warned the rebel leaders of the planned attack by the Spanish forces. The warning allowed them to vacate the rebel camp before the Spanish arrived. A few days later on September 16, 1810, the priest Miguel Hidalgo gave the famous “Grito de Dolores,” or “Cry of Dolores,” which began Mexico’s fight for Independence from Spain.
Querétaro served as the rebel headquarters during the 11 year fight for Mexico’s independence. Years later, in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded most of Mexico’s northern territories to the U.S., was signed in Querétaro.
Now, Querétaro is a booming economic center. The metropolitan area has the second highest GDP per capita in Mexico, after industrial powerhouse Monterrey. The area is known as a center for information technology, data centers, logistics services, aircraft and automotive manufacturing and the production of chemicals and food. It is home to international businesses such as Freixenet, Kellog’s, Samsung Electronics, Michelin and Nestle.
The region surrounding Querétaro also has a rapidly growing wine industry. Wine production in Querétaro is now second ony to the Valle de Guadalupe wine growing area of Baja California Norte.