Peña de Bernal

Is considered the third largest monolith in the world following the Rock of Gibraltar and Sugarloaf in Brazil. In mass, it is second to Ayers Rock in Australia and towers at a height of about 450 feet.

San Sebastián Bernal sits at the bottom of the mountain, a small quiet town that claims an average life span for it’s inhabitants, of 94.7 years.

The mountain is believed to have magical properties,
Bringing thousands  of pilgrims each spring equinox,
Dressed in white robes, to an evening community ritual
At the small chapel mid-way up the mountain.
The town has been bestowed with the gift
Of being one of Mexico’s 35 or so Pueblos Magicos.

On the weekend, the town is full of people,
Mostly tourists who live within a day’s ride.
Rock climbers come to scale to the top of the mountain,
Hikers skirt around the lower half.
Most likely you’ll see walkers in tennis shoes or boots,
But being as we are here in Mexico,
We also saw groups of younger women
In high heels.  Go figure.
During the week, it is a peaceful, colorful ghost town.
We went last year on a Wednesday for the night.
The town closed up at seven so our dinner,
Was up on the highway, a taco stand
Which sold tacos de cabeza – eye, tongue and brain,
Or chorizo.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the town,
Climbing part way up the Peña,
Or buying some of the fabulous wool traveling blankets.
The weavers here make many things,
The women of the town knit sweathers, shawls and vests,
But Bernal is famous for it’s wool textiles,
Blankets, rebozos, bufandas,
Which I have to say are top quality,
In beautiful natural colors and designs.
It is worth a visit to the workshops
Where the rhythm of the shuttles and pedals
That work the loom create a quiet music
As meter after meter of cloth forms at the other end.
Besides the wool, they make colorful cotton bedspreads,
Pillow covers and decorative  wall pieces and rugs.

Besides the hand woven textiles,
One can find artisan foods,
Including cheeses,
Hand made candies
Artesanal jams and jellies.

The Peña has been used as a backdrop
In many Mexican movies including
La Cucaracha with Pedro Armandas and Dolores del Rio,
El Gallo de Oro with Ignacio Lopez Tarzo and Lucha Villa,
Adios Nicanor,
El Lugar Sin Limites with Isaura Espinoza
To name a few.

Never mentioned in travel books,
Is Bernal’s wonderful cemetery
Which sits at the bottom of the monolith.
It has some of the more unique burial mausoleums
That I have ever seen, not to mention
Being a very peaceful place to spend some time.

Although Bernal is a tourist town,
It maintains a sense of self and place
That we didn’t find in Tequisquiapan,
Which although has many thermal baths to draw people,
Didn’t maintain the sense of place that Bernal has.
Perhaps this is because of the mountain,
Or the hand crafted textiles that are made here,
Or perhaps that it hasn’t totally given itself over
Completely to the tourist.
Click on the photo below to view a slideshow of photos which includes a short movie of the town and one weaving studio at work.

CLICK ON THE photo to view the slideshow including a video of the town and weavers of Bernal

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2 thoughts on “Peña de Bernal”

  • Suzanne,
    The slide show is incredible. I have a 19″ (diagonal) square computer screen and the clarity and colors are fantastic. I couldn’t find the video however. I think you need to put a big red “click here for video” for dummies like me 🙂

  • Ahhhh…now I see the video. It is connected to the last frame. Very nice. Those looms are big! The flying shuttle is really something to see also. It looks like the loom operator is almost in a trance and doing a dance to the beat of the loom. Very hypnotic 🙂

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