To celebrate the Bicentennial of Mexico's independence from Spain and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, Mexico has created eight commemorative tourism routes that pass through 100 different destinations and 17 states, highlighting the historical settings and emblematic monuments of the country. The routes can be covered between one week and 10 days and because of their circular paths, travelers can start from any point on the circuit.

The country’s fascinating history truly shines in the following eight commemorative routes, with the first four celebrating the bicentennial and the latter celebrating the revolution:

La Ruta de Hidalgo Centro (The Hidalgo Route - Center)
La Ruta de Hidalgo Norte (The Hidalgo Route – North)
La Ruta de Morelos (The Morelos Route)
La Ruta de Guerrero y el Ejercito Trigarante (The Guerrero Route)
La Ruta de Zapata (The Zapata Route)
La Ruta de Villa (The Villa Route)
La Ruta de Madero y Carranza (The Madero and Carranza Route)
La Ruta de las ciudades de la Revolucion (The Revolution Cities Route) 

La Ruta de Morelos celebrates the life of the “Servant of the Nation,” Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. Born in Valladolid and passing in San Cristobal Ecatepec, this route recounts the many miles that Morelos traveled in his five military campaigns, and during his civil and religious life. The route takes travelers through the emblematic sites of his career and the regions where he lived and fought, such as Acapulco, Taxco, Iztapa, Uruapan, Morelia Charo and Jantetlco, just to name a few.

La Ruta de Guerrero y el Ejercito Trigarante recounts the life of revolutionary general Vicente Guerrero and his army as they fought against Spain for Mexico’s Independence. The route manages to gather key sites of the life and work of Guerrero and many of the places where army head, Agustin de Iturbide, carried out crucial military and political actions. The route welcomes visitors to travel to destinations where they can both discover the exploits of Guerrero, as well as the multitude of natural beauties along the path. The extensive route passes through Oaxaca, Santa Cruz, Huatulco, Acapulco and Veracruz, just to name a few cities.

La Ruta de Hidalgo Norte retraces the footsteps of independence leaders Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama, Jimenez and their army, as they desperately attempted to reach the United States to buy arms and mount an offensive that never came. To travel this route is to travel the same distances and view the same scenery that these men did in Mexico’s fight for independence. This route passes through several important cities including Monterrey, Matehuala, Real de Catorce and Monclova.

Although each route is special for several reasons, a “must-see” is La Ruta de Hidalgo Centro. This route celebrates the life of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, “the father of the nation.” Born in Costilla and executed in Chihuahua, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla traveled heavily between these two locations in his struggle for Mexico’s independence. This historic route takes travelers through the states of Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Michoacan, which house many of the sites that represent his career as a priest, philosopher and military leader. Of particular interest is the city of Chihuahua, where travelers can visit the Palacio de Gobierno de Chihuahua (Government Palace of Chihuahua), where Hidalgo was executed by a Spanish firing squad. Today, the Altar of the Motherland stands in the exact spot where the father of the nation died, allowing visitors to step into Mexico’s history.

One of the most important stops on this route is in the Guanajuato town of Dolores Hidalgo, which has been declared the “Capital of the Bicentennial.” Here, one can visit the church in which Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla delivered his famous “Grito de Dolores,” the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence. Guanajuato is also the location of two much-anticipated parades on Sept. 16 and Nov. 20, celebrating Mexico’s Independence and Revolution, respectively. The site of the two major parades will be the new Expo Guanajuato Bicentennial, a park and entertainment complex named after the bicentennial, and host to several commemorative events. Tourists may also be interested in visiting the Casa de Allende Museum, the Museum of Dolores Hidalgo and the Alhondiga de Granaditas, which have all been remodeled in preparation for the bicentennial celebrations.

Aside from Guanajuato, another bicentennial “hot spot” is Mexico City, the home of several commemorative locations such as the Palacio Nacional (National Palace), which houses murals by famed artist Diego Rivera, depicting important moments in Mexico’s rich history. Starting in August, the Palacio Nacional will be transformed into a museum, the Palacio Galeria Nacional, where visitors can enjoy an art exhibition dedicated to Mexico’s independence. The National Palace is also housing the bones of 13 founding fathers and one founding mother in honor of the bicentennial celebrations On Sept. 16, a military parade celebrating Mexico’s independence will take place through the streets of Mexico City, followed by an air show and a fireworks and pyrotechnic show at the Mirador Torre Latino Observatory.

Mexico City is also the location of the Museo Nacional de Historia, a national history museum housed in the 18th century Chapultepec Castle. Other preparations in the country’s capital include a commemorative arch on Paseo de la Reforma, which will join El Angel de la Independencia in observing Mexico’s fight for independence.

Although the country has been celebrating since the beginning of the year, the bicentennial will come to a head on Sept. 15, 2010, 200 years after revered Mexican hero Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla first rang the revolutionary bell that sparked Mexico’s independence movement. Across the country, cities will erupt into joyous festivities, celebrating what has truly been an exciting year for Mexico, one which also saw two new UNESCO World Heritage sites being added to the country’s already-long list.

For more information about Mexico’s bicentennial and centennial celebrations, as well as the eight commemorative routes, please visit bicentenario.visitmexico.com. Please note that for non-Spanish speakers, the Web site may be translated into English using Google.