From the outdoor dining table at Casa Ayehualco, I see the mountains of the protected Chichinautzin Biological Corridor in full view. Before me is a traditional breakfast spread of blue corn tortillas, fried eggs, avocado and salsa made from smoked chipotle peppers. I smell copal burning in the distance, the smoke wafting through the surrounding oak trees. Save for the sound of birds, it’s utterly silent.
Set two hours south of Mexico City in the heart of the volcanic belt of the Sierra de Ajusco-Chichinauhtzin range, the five-bedroom home is among a cohort of creative projects emerging in and around Tepotzlán, a pueblo revered as a leading spiritual center of Mexico. Though it’s long been visited by locals who come to climb the stone trail that leads to the Tepozteco pyramid—a clifftop Aztec temple dedicated to Tepoztēcatl, the ancient god of fertility, harvest and pulque, a milky fermented drink made from the sap of the maguey plant—the town is now attracting a new wave of travelers who are equally as attracted to the area for its magnetic energy as they are for its private design homes and hilltop cocktail bars.
Set just 20 minutes away in the neighboring village of Amatlán de Quetzalcoatl, Casa Ayehualco is also built near sacred ground: The town is named after the feathered serpent deity of the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl, who they believed was born here around 1,500 years ago. Once the private country estate of the Mexican architect Diego Villaseñor and his wife, the landscape architect Ana María Maldonado, the home is now available for private bookings for the first time ever. Paying homage to Amátlan’s sacred landscape, the property—which took around 40 years to finalize—is a contemporary expression of the area’s vernacular elements and is built almost entirely from locally-sourced adobe, stone and red clay, the latter of which was molded to form the home’s rooftop tiles. The interiors, too, are a celebration of Mexican design, with pieces including green copper-oxidized pottery made by artisans in Tzintzuntzan in Michoacán.
With Casa Ayehualco as my home base for the weekend, I set out to discover even more like-minded developments in the greater Tepotzlán area. On the opposite side of town is the new sculpture garden Dilao by the artist Eduardo Olbés, who reforested over seven acres of land with more than 800 trees to serve as the backdrop to his contemplative oasis. With an eye for sustainability, his project is crafted with a rainwater irrigation system and natural lighting sourced from photovoltaic panels. Visitors can stroll pebbled walkways to view more than 50 works on display, including figures made by Olbés himself, which are inspired by ancient Venus figures, masks of Mesoamerica, and the aesthetic traditions of his native Philippines.