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Magdalena de Kino: A Charming Magical Town in Sonora

  • Joel CZ 
  • 8 min read
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Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, awaits you with its fascinating cultural and historical heritage.

This Magical Town is the head of the Mexican municipality of the same name (Magdalena), located in the north of the state, 80 km from the U.S. border.

In 2012, the small Sonoran city was granted the rank of Magical Town (Pueblo Magico) to promote a tourist flow based on its proximity to the United States.

This was possible thanks to the architectural and historical attractions of the town, whose origin as a human conglomerate was the same as that of many communities in the southwestern United States.

Where is Magdalena de Kino?

The closest major city to Magdalena de Kino is Nogales, 89 km apart on Federal Highway 15. Hermosillo is 190 km from Magdalena de Kino, traveling north on Federal Highway 15.

Guaymas, an important port town of Sonora, is 325 km away, and Ciudad Obregón is 443 km.

Mexico City is 2,100 km away, so it is best to fly to Nogales and make the short overland trip to Magdalena de Kino.

Climate

The average temperature in Magdalena de Kino is 20° C, with the cold of the Sonoran desert making its presence felt between December and March when temperatures drop to 11° C (approx).

The heat starts in June and lasts until September, with an average temperature that varies between 26 and 29° C, although extremes of over 37° C can be recorded.

It rains little in Magdalena de Kino, less than 400 mm per year, mainly falling in July and August.

History

The first Hispanic settlement was the old Mission of Santa María Magdalena, founded in 1648 and destroyed by the high Pápagos and Pima Indians.

In 1687, Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino arrived and refounded the mission in the late 17th century.

The town was called Santa María Magdalena de Buquivaba until the remains of Father Kino were found in 1966, and the Pueblo Magico took the name of its founder.

Who was Father Kino?

Eusebio Francisco Kino was a famous Jesuit missionary born in Milan in 1645 and died in Magdalena de Kino in 1711.

After a fruitless search for more than 250 years, his remains were found in 1966 in the site now occupied by the Monumental Plaza.

He was the main evangelizer of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States, where he built 20 missions.

Father Kino distinguished himself for his ability to understand and relate to the indigenous populations, and besides being a missionary, he was also a cartographer, geographer, and astronomer.

Magdalena de Kino: Main attractions

Main square – Source: el parajo lindo / Shutterstock.com

The tour of Magdalena de Kino must begin at its center, the Plaza Monumental. Around this central space, you’ll find the Temple of Santa María Magdalena, the Mausoleum of Father Kino, and the Temple of San Francisco Javier.

Other places of interest are the Plaza Benito Juarez, the Municipal Palace, and the municipal cemetery, where many people visit the mausoleum of Luis Donaldo Colosio.

Plaza Monumental

This esplanade in the historic center of Magdalena de Kino is the town’s main square. On one of its sides are the Temple of Santa Maria Magdalena and the modern religious sanctuary of San Francisco Javier.

On the plaza’s south side is a statue of Luis Donaldo Colosio, one of Magdalena’s most beloved citizens.

On the east side of the Plaza Monumental is the Mausoleum of Padre Kino, and on the north side are several quaint stores.

This mausoleum located in the Plaza Monumental houses the remains of Father Kino.

For over two centuries, the faithful traveled to Magdalena to pay tribute to the famous Jesuit priest in the town of his death, but without doing so in front of his mortal remains.

After the remains of Father Kino were found in 1966 under an orange tree, an imposing white mausoleum was built on the same site, which is a must-see in Magdalena de Kino.

Visit the Templo de Santa María Magdalena

magdalena de kino
Source: el parajo lindo / Shutterstock.com

In front of the town’s Monumental Plaza lies this beautiful temple, built on the same site where Father Kino erected the mission church at the end of the 17th century.

Near the temple is the Chapel of San Francisco Javier, built in 1711 by Father Agustín de Campos.

For the chapel’s inauguration, Father De Campos invited Father Kino, and he fell ill, dying a few hours later in the town that now bears his name.

Temple of San Francisco Javier

San Francisco Javier’s modern and beautiful chapel, located near the Templo de Santa María Magdalena in the Plaza Monumental, was opened in 2013.

San Francisco Javier has enjoyed great veneration in Sonora since Father Kino made known the work of the 16th-century Navarre missionary saint who collaborated with Ignatius of Loyola.

Many faithful pilgrimages to Magdalena de Kino pay tribute to San Francisco Javier, and its patron saint festivities are well attended.

Festivities in Magdalena de Kino

The most important festivities here are Fiestas de Octubre, celebrated between the last week of September and the first week of October in honor of San Francisco Javier, the town’s patron saint.

Another important annual event is the Kino Festival.

For the occasion, hundreds of people flock to Magdalena de Kino, many from Nogales and other U.S. border towns, to participate in religious events and enjoy the folkloric and cultural shows.

What is the Kino festival about?

The idea of holding an annual festival in honor of the missionary founder of the town arose shortly after the remains of the famous Jesuit were discovered in 1966.

The first festival was held in 1967. Since then, it has been held during the third week of May to remember and celebrate the region’s missionary origin and commemorate the figure of Eusebio Kino.

It includes events in different fields of art and culture, reaching other municipalities, and is currently coordinated by the Sonoran Institute of Culture.

Visit the Colosio Family Mausoleum

Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta was a prestigious political leader born in Magdalena de Kino on February 10, 1950.

He was assassinated on March 23, 1994, in Tijuana, when he was the candidate with the best chance to win the Presidency, in one of the political crimes that have shocked Mexico the most.

Luis Donaldo Colosio and his wife, Diana Laura Riojas, are buried in a beautiful mausoleum in the Magdalena de Kino cemetery.

Plaza Benito Juárez

This small haven of peace is located one block from the Plaza Monumental.

The bust of Benito Juarez stands on a pedestal of stone blocks, flanked by two slender pines and surrounded by trees and green areas.

A short flight of steps accesses a beautiful kiosk in the plaza center.

During the Fiestas de Octubre and other festivities, the surroundings of the Plaza Benito Juárez are filled with stalls selling drinks and typical food.

Municipal Palace

This building, located on Obregón Avenue, two blocks from Plaza Benito Juárez, was originally a military school but was restored to become the municipal Presidency.

The palace opened in 1922 and mixes ancient and modern European and American architectural styles and has the particularity that its roofs are made of metallic tile brought from Italy.

It has a cozy Mexican-style interior garden.

Gastronomy

Sonorans are great meat eaters, and this town is no exception.

The Sonora-style grilled meat must be prepared with a good cut, with enough thickness to dry out when roasted in wood or charcoal embers.

You won’t miss a good hamburger, pizza, or “dogos,” the Sonora-style hot dog with irresistibly sauced beef sausage.

Magdalena de Kino Handicrafts

magdalena de kino
Source: Monica Rojas / shutterstock.com

The main handicraft products you can buy here are textiles, pottery, shoes, and hats.

These pieces can be purchased at reasonable prices in a tourist corridor close to the Plaza Monumental.

Magdalena de Kino Lodging

This Sonoran town is improving and expanding services to cater to tourism, especially those crossing the border with the United States.

Hotel Andares is one of the best hotels in Magdalena.

Other recommended lodgings are in the nearby city of Nogales, such as the Fiesta Inn Nogales, on Calle Nuevo Nogales 3; the City Express Nogales, on Prolongación Álvaro Obregón; and the Hotel San Carlos, on Calle Juárez 22.

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