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Alamos Sonora, Mexico: An Enchanting Magical Town

  • Joel CZ 
  • 12 min read
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The town of Alamos Sonora awaits you with its cozy colonial atmosphere and mining past. This complete guide will help you get to know this magical town in northern Mexico.

Alamos is a small city south of the state of Sonora, which was founded in the seventeenth century after finding some silver mines nearby.

While the rich metal was being exploited, a beautiful colonial town was built, receiving the name of Ciudad de Los Portales in allusion to those architectural elements.

Alamos Sonora was integrated in 2005 into the system of Mexican Magical Towns and since then receives a growing stream of visitors.

How do I get to Alamos Sonora?

Alamos is about 1,600 Km (994 miles) from Mexico City and 659 km (410 miles) from the Arizona border in Nogales.

The most convenient way to get there from the Mexican capital is by taking a flight to Ciudad Obregon, Sonora’s second-largest city, 120 Km from the Magical Town.

From Mexico City, some buses make the long trip directly to Ciudad Obregón. The journey between Ciudad Obregón and Álamos takes about an hour and a half.

Alamos background

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Source: jejim / shuttlestock.com

The official founding date of Alamos was December 8, 1682, during the viceregal era, after the discovery of rich silver deposits in the surrounding area.

The founder was the Spaniard Domingo Terán de los Ríos, who governed the territories of the current states of Sonora and Sinaloa.

The mining wealth turned Alamos into the most important and most prosperous city in northwestern Mexico, a boom that lasted until the 19th century, when the mines were exhausted.

The Battle of Alamos is sometimes confused with the Battle of the Alamo. The latter was the one that pitted Antonio López de Santa Anna against the Texan secessionists during the Texas Revolution in 1836 for control of the Texan garrison of the Alamo.

This famous battle took place on September 24, 1865, during the Second French Intervention in Mexico.

Republican General Antonio Rosales defeated the forces loyal to France under the command of José María Almada, although he lost his life in the battle.

What happened after the silver ran out?

After the precious metal ran out in the 19th century, Alamos began to languish, experiencing a period of poverty that lasted until the middle of the 20th century.

However, the town’s luck changed in 1948 when American farmer William Levant Alcorn came to visit and fell in love with the place.

Levant Alcorn bought the Almada mansion across from the Plaza de Armas and restored it, converting it into the Hotel Los Portales.

He also acquired and restored other mansions, bringing Alamos back to prosperity as a tourist attraction and a refuge for retirees from the north.

What is Alamos Sonora like?

alamos sonora
Source: csp / shutterstock.com

The climate is semi-dry and semi-warm, and its average annual temperature is 24° C. However, this reference is not very useful since it results from pronounced seasonal variations in which the town oscillates between cool and very hot.

Between December and February, the average temperature is 17° C, with lows of 2° C, and as the year progresses, the thermometer rises.

In the hottest season, the average temperature is close to 30° C, with peaks above 40° C. There is some rain, mainly between July and September.

Alamos preserves its colonial architecture that makes it the main historic town in Sonora.

Its cobblestone streets, religious buildings, traditional houses with white facades, and green spaces make the Magical Town a cozy place to spend a few charming days immersed in Mexico’s colonial past.

Every hour a little train departs from the Plaza de Armas for a comfortable tour of the town. The municipal cemetery, dating from the late eighteenth century, is an architectural attraction with its beautifully crafted mausoleums.

Tourist attractions

alamos sonora
The church of the Immaculate Conception – Source: Arne Beruldsen / shutterstock.com

Among the religious buildings, the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Chapel of Zapopan stand out.

The beautiful Plaza de Armas, the Palacio Municipal, the Casa de la Moneda, the narrow streets with their old mansions vestibules, latticed balconies, ample patios, and beautiful gardens are some of the attractions of Alameda’s architectural landscape.

Others are the Museo Costumbrista, the house of María Félix, the Callejón del Beso, the Paseo del Chalatón, the old jail and the alameda.

The current parish church of Alamos, which combines baroque and neoclassical styles, was built between 1802 and 1821 when the Italian clock that still works today was installed.

Its exterior is made of stone and quarry and has a bell tower of 3 bodies, 32 meters high. It managed to survive two episodes of Mexico’s turbulent history.

During the French intervention, it was looted by Republican troops, and in 1932 it suffered the consequences of the religious persecution that followed the Cristero War in Sonora.

The Plaza de Armas

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The beautiful kiosk at the main square – Source: jejim / shutterstock.com

The main square, or Plaza de Armas, is an ample space surrounded by majestic arcades, dotted with greenery, trees, palms, and gardens, in front of the church of the Purísima Concepción.

In its wrought-iron benches painted in white and other colors, the people of Alameda sit to talk or watch the time go by. Its centennial kiosk is one of the most beautiful examples of these structures frequent in the public spaces of Mexican towns.

Visit the museum

The Museo Costumbrista de Alamos Sonora occupies a beautiful mansion on Calle Guadalupe Victoria No. 1 downtown.

The museum’s house dated from 1868 and was originally the residence of the Gómez Lamadrid family and later a commercial store and crafts school.

Since 1984 it has housed the museum, which traces the history of Alamos and Sonora through almost 5,000 objects, documents, and photographs.

The mining past of Alamos has a prominent place in the exhibit. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 9:00 and 18:00.

María Félix and Alamos Sonora

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Source: jejim / Shutterstock.com

The iconic Mexican actress María Félix is the most famous native since she was born in this town on April 8, 1914, as part of 13 siblings.

“La Doña” spent her childhood in the Pueblo Mágico, where she learned to ride horses, an experience that would be useful in her successful film career.

The house that was once home to the Félix Guereña family on Galeana Street was converted into a museum and a small hotel in 2002, the year of the actress’ death.

It contains more than 200 pieces found in the house, including paintings, photos, newspapers from Maria’s childhood, weapons, perfume bottles, and other objects.

Visit The Municipal Palace (City Hall)

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Municipal building – Source: jejim / shutterstock.com

The Alamos Municipal Palace is an 1899 building whose exterior facades are reminiscent of the architectural style of the old Spanish fortresses of medieval times.

It is a two-story building with a crenelated tower in the center and large windows, built soberly in stone and brick.

Arcades surround its beautiful central courtyard. In January, it is the scene of the Alfonso Ortiz Tirado Festival, another illustrious “Alamense.”

Mexican tenor and orthopedic doctor Alfonso Ortiz Tirado is another famous native of Alamos, where he was born on January 24, 1893.

Aside from being a renowned lyric singer in Mexico, America, and Europe, as a specialist in orthopedics, Dr. Ortiz Tirado was Frida Kahlo’s family doctor, performing several surgeries on the famous artist.

Every January, around the date of his birth, the Alfonso Ortiz Tirado Festival is celebrated, an event that turns Alamos into the cultural capital of Sonora.

The old prison

The old jail of Alamos has been, since the 18th century, a stately colonial mansion, like many others in town.

It has a U-shaped floor plan, a façade with large windows, and interior courtyards with arcades. After being restored and refurbished, it was converted into a cultural center.

Sculpture exhibitions are held in its open spaces, and plastic arts workshops are offered in its halls.

Alamos’ kiss alley

Like other towns in Mexico, Alamos also has its Callejón del Beso, a narrow cobblestone alley in the center of town.

The legend is the same everywhere. “A pretty girl and a young man who must keep their love a secret and take the opportunity to kiss each other from nearby balconies.”

In Alamos, it is a ritual for visiting couples to give each other a peck in the alley.

Suppose you’ve already passed through the Callejón del Beso but want to continue with the romantic vibes. In that case, you can go up to El Mirador on the hill of El Perico, where you have a spectacular view of Alamos, especially at sunset.

Another excellent place to spend a pleasant time with your companion is La Alameda, a tree-lined promenade in town.

What is the history of the Mint?

Curiously, despite being rich in silver, the Alamos Mint was opened in 1828 in a large and beautiful colonial mansion to mint copper coins of one-eighth of a real.

The manufacture of copper octavos was only maintained until 1831, and the mint closed in 1854 when it reopened to mint silver reales and gold pesos.

The Mint building now houses the Paulita Verján High School.

La Casa de Las Delicias

This spacious house, almost 300 years old, can be reached by passing through the Alamos cemetery. It belonged to one of the wealthiest families in Alamos, and there is a legend that the caretaker likes to tell about the beautiful and large house.

The daughter of the owner of the house fell in love with a young servant and the girl’s family had him imprisoned.

After being released from prison, the young man told his beloved that he would bring her a serenade but was killed before he reached the window.

The young woman was locked up by the family and committed suicide—a drama of love and pain typical of Mexican towns.

How far is Alamos Sonora from the sea?

If you are one of those people who cannot do without the sea on vacations or short trips, not far from Alamos is the bay of Agiabampo, a virgin place about an hour away, devoid of infrastructure but splendorous in its pure nature.

You can almost play with dolphins on the seashore, and the few locals offer walks through the mangroves and exquisite fish.

Mountain hiking

Ecotourists have a site called El Pedregal in the foothills of the Sierra de Alamos. In this forest, you can see exciting species of flora and fauna, especially birds, and practice mountain entertainment. There are some mountain cabins with all the essential services.

Hunting

Hunting enthusiasts can find excellent places in Alamos to catch a good game. Within the necessary controls, in Alamos, it is allowed to hunt deer, quail, ducks, wild boars, doves, and other species.

Occasionally, restrictions are established, and hunters are always expected to comply with the established limits.

Lodging

Almost all hotels in Alamos Sonora operate in colonial buildings, in keeping with the surroundings, so they are cozy and small but with spacious rooms.

  • Hacienda De Los Santos is praised for its warm treatment and the quality of its cuisine
  • Álamos Hotel Colonial is noted for its neatness and tranquility
  • Casa Las 7 Columnas has the details that provide the attention of its owners
  • Hotel Luz del Sol is a small establishment with spacious rooms and home cooking

Where to eat

  • Charisma is an international restaurant located on Calle Obregón. There are excellent reviews of their coconut shrimp and filet mignon
  • Teresita’s Bakery and Bistro is an appropriate place for casual dining, with good food and delicious desserts
  • Santiago’s Restaurant is located inside Hacienda De Los Santos and has a nice ambiance
  • The restaurant at Hotel Casa de los Tesoros has an hacienda atmosphere and its clients speak highly of its arrachera and chile relleno
  • Doña Lola Cenaduria Koki’s offers the typical food of the region and is praised for its good seasoning, being the place in Alamos to order tortilla soup and machaca

Don’t forget to take a souvenier

Alamos has a handicrafts market that operates in a colonial house at Km. 51 on the Alamos – Navojoa highway, on the corner of Francisco Madero.

You can find local handicrafts made mainly by members of the Mayo, Yaqui, Pima, and Seri tribes. You can find pieces of wood, glass, ceramics, metals, and woven and leather objects.

I hope you find this guide to Alamos useful and that your trip will be a success. Vamonos!

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