By Carla Land

In the midst of one of Mexico's most beautiful regions you'll find a quaint town called Cocoyoc where a beautiful historical hacienda lies. Built by the hands of  Mexico's most legendary Indian rulers, owned by equally famous Spanish Royalty, it was once almost destroyed by Mexican revolutionaries.

It is not hard to imagine why rulers and conquerors sought to own this "Garden of  Eden". Hacienda Cocoyoc and the town of Cocoyoc lay about 60 miles outside of Mexico city in the mountains and is graced with excellent weather year round, fertile land and lush vegetation. It was built 200 years prior to the established capital of the Aztec empire in Mexico City. It was here at Cocoyoc that the great Aztec ruler Moctezuma the First was born and spent his boyhood years.

He was so taken with Cocoyoc ("the place of coyotes") that during his reign he ordered extensive gardens to be built with trees, flowers and plants being brought from all over the country to be featured in his "private garden". Royal baths were also constructed with lush vegetation and great stone work and aqueducts - which still stand today. Moctezuma the First used Cocoyoc as his "Camp David," a place to escape the pressures of state affairs.

The rule of the Aztec Empire passed from father to son as did the Hacienda Cocoyoc. And it was during the Conquest of the Aztec Empire (ruled by Moctezuma II) that Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes took notice of the hacienda and the region around it. In 1521, in honor of his services to the Spanish crown, he was given this vast territory which included Cocoyoc. Cortes, in an effort to establish a firm hold on the land, married Isabel, daughter of Moctezuma II, who was the Aztec ruler of the time.

The history of this hacienda is as diverse as the history of Mexico. Through the centuries it has endured Spanish conquest, land negotiations and marriages, it was downsized because of forced tax liens and even served as a sugar plantation in the late 16th century. During the eighteenth century it was among the twelve most important sugar plantations in the country.

But during the revolution of 1910, revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata burned and destroyed many of the haciendas of the region, including Cocoyoc, and by the end of the war only 168 acres remained of the original hacienda complex.

In 1957, Paulino Rivera Torres purchased Hacienda Cocoyoc and brought it back to life as a first class hotel. Today this historic Hacienda embraces the comfort and class of  a five star hotel, but embodies the romance and history of it's glorious past.

Hacienda Cocoyoc features a luxurious spa with various hydrotherapy Jacuzzis, steam baths, mud baths, wraps, with all the professional services of any high quality spa. It sports over 300 rooms and suites all decorated with the finest in Mexican colonial furnishings.

There are three swimming pools, a 9 hole golf course on the property and an 18 hole golf course just down the road. You cab dine in any one of four restaurants, dance and socialize in one of three bars and a disco offering a variety of cuisine and entertainment options. The kids will enjoy the game room which offers billiards, cards and an arcade as well as an outdoor sports area set up for volleyball or football.

But what makes this Hacienda special is the lush landscape provided by the ornate and unique garden areas that surround the complex.

There is so much to do at the hacienda that it is tempting to never leave. But if you are a history buff or love archaeology, you'd be making a mistake by just sitting by the pool. Cocoyoc is a great base for exploring many historical sites within the region. Here's just a few that are featured on their Web site, Cocoyoc.com:

 Archeological sites - Lomas-El Bosque:
(Ten minutes from Cocoyoc)
This is a Tlahuica ceremonial place inside the residential zone "Lomas de Cocoyoc". Its original name is unknown. Inside stands a pyramid.
Inside the public resort "El Bosque", there is another pyramid and a sacred well, where the Aztec emperors used to take baths. This was a favorite place of Moctezuma the First.

Archeological sites - Pantitlan:
(Five minutes from Cocoyoc)
Aztec Place with more than ten pyramids. It is under exploration. It seemed to be a place for concentrating military forces.

Archeological sites - Tepoztlan:
(Fifteen minutes from Cocoyoc)
On top of the mountain named "Tepozteco", archaeological remains from the nahuatlahuica culture, can be found. You can admire the pre-Hispanic temple and the pyramid. The only way up is walking; which takes about one hour. This place is under the responsibility of the National Institute of Archeology and History (INAH).

Archeological sites - Teopanzolco:
(Thirty minutes from Cocoyoc)
In the city of Cuernavaca, in the residential zone of "Vista Hermosa". This archeological zone has more than fourteen monuments. Among them, there is a pyramid known as "double temple". It is managed by the INAH.

Archeological sites - Las Pilas:
(Forty minutes from Cocoyoc)
At the east side of the state of Morelos in the valley of "Amilpa", near Chalcatzingo and within the resort "Las Pilas"; this ceremonial place can be found. Because of the construction of the resort, only a part can be appreciated: The pyramid and two altars. The importance of this place is due to the fact that the dead bodies were found in an unusual position, called "loto flower". In the tombs, pieces of jade, conch shell, carving bones and clay of the purest Teotihuacan style were discovered. Some tombs contained more than three hundred objects.

Archeological sites - Chalcatzingo:
(Forty minutes from Cocoyoc)
This zone is found at the east side of the state of Morelos, at one side of the "La Cantera" and "Delgado" mountains. It consists of a complex of Olmecan constructions and Aztec ruins, such as: The downtown plaza, the altar, the hunter's and queen's spikes and the painting of the Jaguar and the King.

Archeological sites - Coatetelco:
(Sixty minutes from Cocoyoc)
Here you can appreciate the remains of the Tlahuica culture. This ceremonial center has a traditional ballpark and main temple.

Archeological sites - Xochicalco:
(Sixty minutes from Cocoyoc)
This ceremonial center has characteristics which relate it with the Olmecan, Mayan, Totonac, Toltecan, Teotihuacan, Xochicalcan and Aztec cultures.
Interesting constructions can be found here, such as: The pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, the ancient ballpark and the observatory, where you can appreciate the solstice in all its splendor on June 21st.

Colonial Monuments - Oaxtepec:
(Five minutes from Cocoyoc)
In Oaxtepec there is a monastery from the XVI century. It was the first one of the Dominican order in the state of Morelos. It has a pre-Hispanic foundation.
The church is made up of only one nave with domes and painted arches.
Three blocks from here, you can also visit the ruins of the first hospital in America, founded by Hernan Cortes.

 Colonial Monuments - Tlayacapan:
(Fifteen minutes from Cocoyoc)
The ex-monastery of Saint John the Baptist is characterized by the tradition of the Agustine order. The beauty of its decorations on the walls and wide porch of two stages, are worth seeing. It is also from the XVI century. Some tombs and mummies have recently been uncovered.

Colonial Monuments - Tlalnepantla:
(Twenty minutes from Cocoyoc)
Among its attractions is the Agustine ex-monastery of "The Purification of Tlalnepantla". Which dates from the XVI century.

Colonial Monuments - Tepoztlan:
(Fifteen minutes from Cocoyoc)
This is a Dominican ex-monastery from the XVI Century. It was called the monastery "of the Nativity of the Virgen". The inside consists of two floors of toscan style. The upper floor has old cells and it is supported by arches. On the same floor you find the famous "window" where you can observe the marvelous landscapes and the valley of Tepoztlan.
Because of its construction it somewhat resembles a fort.

Colonial Monuments - Atlatlahucan:
(Twenty minutes from Cocoyoc)
The ex-monastery of Saint Mathew (San Mateo) is also from the XVI Century. It belonged to the Agustine order. Its cloister of primitive mudefor style exhibits a set of beautiful decorative paintings. One of its bells was transferred to the Cathedral of Mexico City in 1955

Colonial Monuments - Totolapan:
(Twenty minutes from Cocoyoc)
Here we have another Agustine ex-monastary which was built in the XVI Century. Its church has its own Christ (the Christ of Totolapan). It also has chapels, "pozas" and an open chapel.

Colonial Monuments - Jantetelco:
(Thirty minutes from Cocoyoc)
This Agustine ex-monastary also from the XVI century, holds many popular portraits, ornamented images and paintings. This place was the parish of Mariano Matamoros. This priest joined the revolutionary movement of Morelos during the Mexican Independence.

Colonial Monuments - Jonacatepec:
(Forty minutes from Cocoyoc)
This is an Agustine monastery from the XVI century. It shows both European and mexican influences. The inside of the church has been reconstructed: However on the dome, there are still seen some original paintings.

Colonial Monuments - Yautepec:
(Ten minutes from Cocoyoc)
Yautepec still maintains its ex-monastery of the Agustine order. The front side is of plastereque style with a gothic formation.

Colonial Monuments - Yecapixtla:
(Thirty minutes from Cocoyoc)
Here one can visit the parish of Saint John the Baptist, an ex-monastery of the Agustine order. The front side is of plasteresque style with a gothic formation. With four "Pozas" chapels. Inside the church, one can still appreciate the beautiful gothic pulpit with some traces of paintings.

Colonial Monuments - Ocuituco:
(Thirty minutes from Cocoyoc)
This was the first Agustine monastery built in the XVI century. It was dedicated to Santiago Apostle. You can admire the cloister with its pillcris and supports and two special fountains. One in the cloister and one in the porch.

Needless to say more than one trip to Hacienda Cocoyoc is necessary to discover the true beauty and history of the region. Enjoy discovering what Indian rulers, Spanish royalty and the Mexican people have always known for centuries....Cocoyoc is magical.