Xilitla is one of the 58 municipal jurisdictions that make up the state of San Luis Potosí. Situated in the Huasteca region, the town’s inhabitants have given it two different names: indigenous Huastecas called it Taizol and later Aztec settlers gave it the name Xilitla.

Photo: Plutarco Gastelum, 1950.

The Town of Xilitla

In pre-Hispanic times, the region was invaded by the Chichimec people from the north and later fell under Aztec domination that reached a zenith during the reign of emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, who established colonization plans at numerous regional locations.

With the arrival of the Spanish, Huasteca communities were defeated by Hernán Cortés, who parceled out the vast fiefdoms of Tamuín and Oxitipa, which included the Xilitla region.

The Augustinian Order charged Friar Antonio de la Roa with the evangelization of the region’s indigenous population in 1537. 1557 saw the construction of Xilitla Convent (the town’s oldest structure), designed to resist Chichimec invasions. Nevertheless, the convent was sacked and put to the torch in 1569 and 1587, after which it ceased to be a significant outpost. It was later abandoned as a result of Mexico’s 1859 anti-clerical reforms.

Hidden in the thick of the Huasteca jungle, Xilitla is situated at 600 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest points in the region. It is known as San Luis Potosí’s rainiest spot, perfect for fruit and coffee cultivation.

Major regional attractions include the Xilitla Caves, where visitors learn about the origins of the Huasteca people via cave paintings; Silleta Ridge, a contemplative site as well as a challenge for alpinists; the Sierra Gorda, famous for its convents and sylvan landscapes, lies near Xilitla’s municipal limits. Finally there is Edward James’s Sculpture Garden, one of the world’s most important surrealist works and the region’s number-one attraction.