Teúl de González Ortega

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City & Municipality
Teúl de González Ortega
Location of municipality
Location of municipality
Coordinates: 21°27′44″N 103°27′39″W / 21.46222°N 103.46083°W / 21.46222; -103.46083Coordinates: 21°27′44″N 103°27′39″W / 21.46222°N 103.46083°W / 21.46222; -103.46083
Country  Mexico
State Zacatecas
Founded 1536 (official)
 • Municipal President Saint. José Humberto Muro Cortés
Elevation (of seat) 1,940 m (6,360 ft)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Website [1]

Teúl de González Ortega is a town and municipality located in the south of the Mexican state of Zacatecas, between the state capital of Zacatecas and the city of Guadalajara. Unlike most of the rest of the state, its economy has been based on agriculture and livestock, rather than mining, and it is noted for its production of agave and mezcal. The town has been named a Pueblo Mágico to promote a tourism industry.

The town[edit]

Plaza de Armas
San Juan Bautista parish

The political and economic center of the municipality is the town of Teúl, with a population of about 5,000 people, located 250 km from the city of Zacatecas and 111 from the city of Guadalajara.[1]

The town has two important squares. The official one is called the Plaza de Armas. It has two garden areas, which are set off by stone fences and contain palm trees for shade. This square is surrounded by old mansions which contain businesses such as the Heladería Piwy ice cream shop, Arteúl, which specializes in the region’s mezcals and the La Herradura cantina. The Portales Trinidad Cervantes is on the west side of the main square, a commercial center built in the 19th century, still active today. It is named after a general from the Mexican Revolution.[2] At night, the main plaza hosts local bands. To the west of this is the “lower” plaza (Plaza de Abajo), which used to be the town’s outdoor market. Today, it hosts most of the town civic observances.[2][3]

The main church is the San Juan Bautista Parish, a large square building built between 1772 and 1824 as a Franciscan monastery and still has it original wooden door, with a bell tower added in 1873. In the early 19th century the complex was turned over to regular clergy and during the Cristero War, it was heavily damaged, losing the bell tower and right hand vault, which were both reconstructed. The interior is Neo Classical with a solitary image of John the Baptist on the main altar. Two unusual features are the cupola, which is rectangular instead of round, and the choir banister, which is stone instead of wood. To the left of the main altar is the Chapel of the Holy Martyrs, containing relicts of three canonized priests from the Cristero War, José Isabel Flores, Agustín Caloca and Ramón Adame, all from Teúl. Outside the church is the Patio de las Campanas, a small space with a well in the center and three arches that lead into the parish museum. The museum exhibits archeological pieces from Cerro del Teul such as axes, arrowheads and blades along with mutates and ceramics along with everyday items from later periods in the town’s history. It also contains a room dedicated to two martyred saints from Teul with includes some of their personal effects. The complex also contains the garden for the resident priest, and the José Isabel Flores Theater. This theater was built in 1985 and host operas, regional dance, concerts and shows for children.[2][3]

The main municipal building, called the Presidencia Municipal, is an old mansion, with a stone portico marking the entrance. Behind this, there is small patio with a bust of Jesús González Ortega. The main hall has a mural that depicts the history of the municipality.[2]

The municipal market is located next to the Plaza de Abajo. It serves local dishes such as birria, burritos, asado de boda, pork with nopales and pipian rojo. This markets expands with outdoor stalls on Saturday.[2][3]

The Virgin of Guadalupe Sanctuary is at the end of an alley called Callejón de las Trompadas, itself marked by a stone arch. The sanctuary dates from the 17th century at a site which used to be a hospital for Indians. These same local indigenous built the church for the Franciscans. The image of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in the Baroque facade has indigenous features. The choral window is surrounded by sculpted flowers, which has small wooden doors instead of glass. Above this, there is an arch to support a single bell. Inside the church still has its original cedar flooring. The small main altar has a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the style of Miguel Cabrera. The Colegio Agustin Caloca is next to the Guadalupe sanctuary, with Tuscan arches and columns and a portico that is older than the school, which was built in 1908 by Filiberto Alatorre, who also worked on the main municipal building.[2]

Overlooking the town is the Cerro de Teúl which has an archeological site, centered on a pyramid called El Sol (The Sun). It also has a decapitated sculpture of a Mesoamerican ball game player and one of a jaguar.[3]

Geography and environment[edit]

The municipality extends over 886km2, and borders the municipalities of Tepechitlán, Mezquital del Oro, Garcia de la Cadena and Florencia de Benito Juárez with the state of Jalisco to the south and the state of Nayarit to the west. Outside the seat, other important communities include Ignacio Allende with 1,800 residents, Huitzila with 800 and www.milpillas.com with 500. In addition there are sixteen other communities with representation in the municipal government.[1]

The municipality has mountains, small mesas, plain and rolling hills with an average altitude of 1940 meters above sea level.[1] The Cerro de Teul is marked by a large cross.[2]

The area is part of the Lerma River basin. The municipal seat is at the juncture of two small rivers called the Rio Grande and La Aticuata. Together they form the Tlaltenango River. After joining other rivers to the Lerma, the area drains into the Pacific. Another important river in the area is the Patitos. The municipality contains one dam called the Manuel Caloca with a capacity of 5,000,000 m3 and another called the Ignacio Allende with a capacity of 1,000,000m3. The rest of the municipality has an abundance of fresh water springs which provide most of the potable water.[1]

The climate is between semi warm and temperate with an average annual precipitation of between 750 and 800 mm with most rain falling in the summer, especially July. The north is drier than the south. The coldest months are December and January with lows down to 11C with occasional freezing. The warmest months are May and June with highs up to 40C.[1]

Much of the area is forested with species such as oak, holm oak, royal pine and “palo colorado”. Fauna includes coyotes, wildcats, white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, various spiders and scorpions, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and other snakes, eagles, quail, owls, storks, ducks and various other birds.[1]


The name Teúl comes from the Chichimeca phrase teulinchan, which means “dwellings of the gods.” After the Conquest, its name became San Juan Bautista de Teúl, prepending the name of its patron saint. In 1935, the suffix of “de Gonzaléz Ortega” was added. Jesús Gonzaléz Ortega, a governor of Zacatecas and ally of Benito Juárez, lived in the town as a boy, then returned later in life to marry.[1][2]

Little is known of the early inhabitants of the area, but settlements probably go back as far as the first century of the Common Era, according to archeological evidence such as tombs. The Caxcans arrived here around the middle of the 7th century, taking control of the valley from the Nahuas and the Techueshes. They remained the dominant group until the arrival of the Spanish.[1][2]

In 1536 Nuño de Guzmán sent Pedro Almíndez Chirino to the area then followed himself shortly after. Within months the indigenous of the area were conquered and Captain Juan Delgado along with Frair Juan Pacheco founded the modern town. At that pre-Hispanic ceremonial center the friar held a mass in honor of John the Baptist, who became the town’s patron saint. One probable reason for the selection of this saint by the Spanish was the area’s abundance of fresh water springs. At this mass, they baptized the area chieftain and a sister, giving them the names of Juan and Catalina. In 1574, a monastery was founded here.[1][2]

Unlike other small towns in Zacatecas, it was never a mining town, with its economy based on livestock and the making of mezcal from agave. During the colonial period into the 19th century, much of the agriculture was organized into haciendas, but these were dismantled with the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War, when the town itself was nearly burnt to the ground.[2]

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe was the original parish church constructed in the late 17th century.[1]

The town was formally recognized in 1714 by the Real Audiencia de la Nueva Galicia.[1]

At the time of Independence, Teul was a dependency of Tlaltenango, but was separated into its own municipality in 1844. This status was reaffirmed in 1935.[1]

In 1986, the municipality adopted a seal on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the town’s founding.[1]

Socioeconomics and culture[edit]

The economy of the municipality is based on agriculture and livestock. Eighty eight percent of the farmland is worked only during the rainy season, with the rest irrigated. The main crop is corn, followed by beans then sorghum and fava beans. Livestock is mostly cattle followed by pigs.[1]

Another important crop is agave, which is used to make mezcal. This liquor is still made by hand, using wood barrels and pits to roast the agave hearts.[3] The municipality has seven registered distilleries making mezcal including El Caxcán, Don Aurelio Lamas and Zacatecano.[2] In addition to the straight mezcal, cream variations in flavors such as strawberry, piña colada, coconut, nut and coffee are produced.[3]

The area remains relatively poor, with many families having one or more members living in the United States to work.[1] The state and municipality have worked to develop a tourism industry for Teúl as well, including its naming as a Pueblo Mágico.[3]

This rural area maintains many of its traditional religious and secular celebrations, mostly related to local saints.[2] Unlike many places in Mexico, the streets are clear of street vendors, so street food is generally available only during festivals. Local specialties include gordita de horno, a sweet case baked on an oak leaf, and gorditas de arriero, a savory dish filled with refried beans flavored with chile de arbol. Other popular dishes include pipian rojo, tamales with meat and nopal, tortitas de guachal (made with nopales and eggs), and chuales, a kind of baked tamale with beans and piloncillo and birria.[2]

Handcrafts include wooden masks, most often used for a traditional dance called Los Morenos in honor of the Holy Cross. Another craft is ceramics, which include pots, plates, storage jars and ladles. They are made with a sand colored clay and glazed.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Teúl de González Ortea". Enciclopedia de los Municipios y Deleaciones de México Estado de Zacatecas (in Spanish). Mexico: INAFED. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Pueblos Mágicos Zacatecas (in Spanish). Mexico City: México Desconocido. July 2013. pp. 59–72. ISSN 1870-9397. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Promueve Canacozac al Teúl de González Ortega como destino turístico" (in Spanish). Zacatecas: NTR Noticias. March 18, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.