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Cuernavaca, Mexican municipality and capital of the state of Morelos. With 349,102 residents in the city in 2005, and a metropolitan population of 804,140 in 2003, it is located about 36 miles south of Mexico City at an elevation of 5,059 feet above sea level. Known as Cuauhnahuac (near the trees) in pre-Spanish times, it became the residence of the conqueror Hernán Cortés. Franciscan missionaries arrived in 1529.

In colonial times Cuernavaca was an important center of local indigenous government and the seat of a Spanish magistrate appointed by the administrators of Cortés's estate. The town's growing non-Indian population became enfranchised with the creation of a municipal government shortly before Mexican independence.

Cuernavaca was often involved in nineteenth-century politics; a junta held there in 1855 named Juan Álvarez as interim president of Mexico, and Emperor Maximilian von Hapsburg frequently vacationed there. In 1869 it became the capital of the new state of Morelos, and in 1891 its first bishop was consecrated. Railroads arrived in 1897, and Cuernavaca played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1910.

During the 1920s a new highway to Mexico City enabled President Plutarco Elías Calles and many of his associates to commute easily to their vacation homes in Cuernavaca. In the last decades of the twentieth century the city has continued to be a favored weekend retreat of Mexico City residents. Such popularity does not come without problems: traffic jams, congestion, and pollution have grown in recent years, detracting from the city's attractiveness.

See alsoMorelosxml .


A scholarly treatment of the colonial period can be found in Robert S. Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca (1991). For a highly personal account of events in Cuernavaca during the Revolution of 1910, see Rosa E. King, Tempest over Mexico: A Personal Chronicle (1970).

Cháve Galindo, Ana María. La nueva dinámica de la migración interna en México 1970–1990. Cuernavaca, Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, 1999.

Haskett, Robert S. Visions of Paradise: Primordial Titles and Mesoamerican History in Cuernavaca. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

Mentz, Brígida von, and R. Marcela Pérez López. Manantiales, ríos, pueblos y haciendas: Dos documentos sobre conflictos por aguas en Oaxtepec y en el valle de Cuernavaca (1795–1807). Jiutepec, México: Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua, 1998.

Rueda Hurtado, Rocío. Sistema urbano de Cuernavaca. México, D.F.: Editorial Praxis, 2001.

Sánchez Santiró, Ernest. Azúcar y poder: Estructura socio-económica de las alcaldías mayores de Cuernavaca y Cuautla de Amilpas, 1730–1821. México, D.F.: Editorial Praxis, 2001.

Wiesheu, Walburga. Religión y política en la transformación urbana: Análisis de un proceso sociodemográfico. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2002.

                                 Cheryl English Martin