Denver’s Sister City in Mexico, Cuernavaca, Morelos, is often called La ciudad de la primavera eterna (The City of Eternal Springtime), and it richly deserves the name. Located in the central highlands of Mexico, about 50 miles south of Mexico City, Cuernavaca enjoys a year-round temperate climate that influenced Aztec kings, Spanish conquistadors and European monarchs to select it as a retreat for rest and relaxation. Even today, tens of thousands of residents of Mexico City flock to Cuernavaca every weekend to escape the pressure and fast pace of life in the Mexican capital.
Cuernavaca’s economy, historically based on the agricultural production of the rural areas surrounding it, has expanded significantly in recent years. Foreign investment has brought many manufacturing jobs to Cuernavaca, the most notable example being those at a Nissan automobile manufacturing facility northeast of the city. Education is also an important aspect of Cuernavaca’s economic and cultural life. It is home to the Universidad Autonoma de Morelos, as well as to around 50 language schools where college students, executives, diplomats and others who what or need to learn Spanish can study for short or extended periods of time.
Cuernavaca has numerous tourist attractions. Its Cathedral, built by Franciscan missionaries in the 16th Century, is among the oldest churches still in use on the North American continent. The Palacio de Cortez, which sits beside Cuernavaca’s Zocalo(central public square), was indeed constructed at the behest of the Spanish Conquistador of Mexico, Hernan Cortez in the 16th Century. It now houses a historical museum as well as a moving mural by the famous 20th Century painter, Diego Rivera.
The Jardin Borda, today a pleasant botanic garden, was the site of a summer retreat of the Hapsburg Emperor Maximilian and his wife Carlotta during their short-lived reign over Mexico in 1860’s. The Brady Museum was the residence of an American art collector, Robert Brady, from 1962 until his death in 1986. By his will Brady established a foundation that converted his residence into the existing museum. It contains an impressive collection of more than 1,300 pieces, including works by such prominent 20th Century Mexican artists as Frida Kahlo, Miguel Covarrubias and Rufino Tamayo.
Though it has been a quaint colonial town in the past, Cuernavaca has grown beyond that status in recent decades. According to the most recent government census, taken in the year 2000, Cuernavaca itself had a population of 338,000, and was part of a larger metropolitan area of more than 820,000 residents. In 2003 Adrian Rivera Perez was elected Presidente Municipal (Mayor) of Cuernavaca, and he will serve a three-year term ending in 2006. More information about the government, economy, culture and people of Cuernavaca is available on the internet at http://www.cuernavaca.gob.mx.
The sister city relationship between Denver and Cuernavaca dates back to 1983. Since then, residents of both cities have benefited from the cultural, educational and personal exchanges that the relationship has promoted. High school students from both cities have traveled to the other in educational exchanges.
The Cuernavaca committee of Denver Sister Cities International has provided financial support for a few carefully selected charitable organizations operating in Cuernavaca. In 1996 an older fire truck from the Denver Fire Department fleet was refurbished and sent to the fire department in Cuernavaca.
One characteristic of Cuernavaca that makes it a particularly apt choice to be Denver’s Sister City is its altitude. At nearly 5,200 feet above sea level, Cuernavaca could also be called Mexico’s Mile High City (but for the fact that Mexico, like most of the world, uses the metric system).