Living and working in big cities may have its benefits, yet, from time to time it is more than necessary to reconnect the essentials. Visiting rather remote areas even for a weekend can provide enough relaxation, inspiration, and even fulfillment for those who are seeking an escape.
Located outside Mexico City, at a distance of no more than two hours -to be precise- Valle de Bravo is one of those picturesque regions to go and re-engage with both nature and yourself. The old town sets forth a wide range of possibilities for recreation, by valuing all water, land, and air, as well as build form.
Below is the list of 15 such places in Valle de Bravo for architects to visit:
1. Mirador la Peña
Mirador la Peña is one of those emblematic places in Valle de Bravo. Being able to climb a mountain such as la Peña, while still being inside the borders of the town has its charm, for sure, especially as it offers one of the best views over the entire region.
2. Velo de Novia & El Molino Waterfalls
Velo de Novia and El Molino are two of the best-known places to visit when in Valle de Bravo. Located around 15 kilometers away from the town center, those two waterfalls provoke visitors, by their beauty, to forget about everyday problems, and engage in a completely different environment.
3. Parque Estatal Monte Alto
Parque Estatal Monte Alto offers 476,000 hectares to reconnect with nature, while still next to the town. For those who like mountain biking or paragliding, this is the perfect spot to go to when visiting Valle de Bravo.
4. Piedra Herrada Sanctuary
For an experience depicted from fairy tales, one should definitely visit Piedra Herrada Sanctuary. After an approximate 42 minutes car ride from Valle de Bravo, visitors will find themselves surrounded by Monarch butterflies in a setting like no other, where beauty, delicacy, and wonder are the keywords.
5. Entre Pinos
Although nowadays practices promote a different type of architecture that is more often than not quite insensitive to nature, such sites as the four mentioned before may plant the desire for a different architecture, one that is built around nature, not against it. Entre Pinos, designed by Taller Hector Barroso, offers an example of architecture valuing its surroundings.
6. Lake Avandaro
Being an important element for the identity of Valle de Bravo, the Avandaro lake puts forward, to both visitors and locals, an opportunity to relax and detach from the built environment while still being able to reflect on the charming environment around.
7. Valle de Bravo Lakefront
To get a glimpse of the nicest views over the lake together with the hills surrounding it and the town, one has to go to this lakefront plaza, down Calle de la Cruz. Walking along the waterfront, one may notice the intimate relationship between the town and the lake.
8. La Gran Stupa Bön para la Paz Mundial
La Gran Stupa Bon is one of those attractions no one has to miss when in Valle de Bravo. Placed in a serene landscape, surrounded by forest and greenery, this stupa (which was the first one erected in Mexico) encapsulates a part of the essence of Buddhism.
9. Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís
If Valle de Bravo were to be depicted in one building alone, no doubt the parish of San Francisco de Asís would have been chosen for the task. Located in the very heart of the town, the monument sums up the rich history of the area by its rich architectural vocabulary.
10. Templo de Santa María Ahuacatlán
Another essential religious building in Valle de Bravo is the 17th-century temple of Santa María Ahuacatlán. Besides being the oldest such building in the region, the architectural piece hosts one of the most mystical objects in town: the Black Christ.
11. Carmel Maranatha
For those who would also like to find a place radiating peace and harmony, Carmel Maranatha is the spot to visit. Envisioned as a house of prayers for the Carmelite monks in the ‘70s, the sacred space invites, even today, both meditation and self-examination.
12. Artisan Market
In order to get the very essence of a place, one has to look at those rather small things that are sometimes even crafted by the locals. Like any other market out there, Mercado de Artesanías not only offers a glimpse of local products (manufactured by locals) but connects to an authentic experience of the place.
13. Joaquin Arcadio Pagaza Museum
A cultural center, a library, and a museum; all are gathered under the same roof, the one of Joaquin Arcadio Pagaza Museum. This place does not display permanent and temporary collections, but it works as a catalyst for local artists, both emerging ones and those already well-known.
14. Jardin Principal, Zocalo
Roughly located in the center of Valle de Bravo, Jardin Principal -or, locally known as Plaza de Los Tres Arboles- represents the ideal place for a green-break where one could take a few moments and admire the beauty of the area.
15. Valle de Bravo Streets
One of the beautiful things about being an architect is that you do not necessarily have to go to certain areas advertised on all sorts of web pages to acknowledge a place. You do not have to read infinite blogs about a region so that you get the true essence of it. Sometimes simply walking down the streets in a city or a town may reveal more about it than anything else.