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Magdalena de Kino

by Dorothy Bell  Share |

(This is the first of a series of articles that we are writing about the towns and cities you might wish to explore as you head South down Highway 15 and 200. If you have favorite place to stay or eat in any of the locations, please write us and we will include it in future edits.)

Weather today in Magdalena Cloudless skies during the day



Santa Marie Magdalena Mission



Magdalena de Kino is the first small city you pass when you pass the border and drive south down Highway 15. And therein lies the problem for this charming town of 23,000 inhabitants. People drive by as they rush to the beaches to the south and inadvertently miss this tiny historic town.

The Pima and Papago Indians inhabited the territory around the valley of the Magdalena River and the present day site of Magdalena de Kino long before the arrival of the Spanish.

1541 - The settlement was known as a Buquibavic. Spanish expeditionary Francisco Vazquez de Coronado said the farming village of Buquibavic had a population just over 300 Indians and described them as not surpassing the Stone Age.

1688 The Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino figures founded the Santa Maria Magdalena de Buquivaba Mission on the site inhabited by the Pima Indians.

1700 Lieutenant Juan Bautista Escalante founded the municipality.

Statue of Padre Kino

1711 Father Kino passed away at the mission

1966 the city was renamed Magdalena de Kino. The Plaza Monumental was constructed after discovery of Kino’s remains


Tourist Services and Attractions

Magdalena has six hotels and six restaurant/bars. One of the hotels, Hotel Kino, provides hookups for RV’s

Plaza Monumental, constructed in 1966, is the center of cultural activities of the town. Here you can find the Crypt of Father Kino, Saint Mary Magdalene Temple (and the venerated image of San Francisco Javier) and the cultural center.


 Padre Kino Crypt


Father Eusebio Kino Museum has diverse objects exhibited representing indigenous culture, photographs, weapons and other objects of great value.

The Mausoleum of Luis Donald Colosio and Diana Laura is located in the municipal cemetery where the remains of the would- be (he was assassinated) Mexican presidential candidate and those of his wife.

Major Festival

Every October 4 the town celebrates San Francisco Javier a co-founder of the Jesuit order. The celebration is the largest fiesta and religious event in the Sonoran desert. Thousands of pilgrims come to worship and party annually during Catholic feast days. Festivities include regional foods, traditional dances, and music and important rituals for the Church.


Padre KinoKino's Most Famous Map


Eusebio Francisco Kino was an extraordinary explorer and humanist. As a priest he founded 24 missions and chapels throughout the Baja, Sonora and Arizona. His curious mind and subsequent talents in writing, mathematics, astronomy and cardiology have influenced the discovery and development of Sonora, Arizona and Baja California. He was the first to prove, for example, that the Baja was a peninsula rather than an island.

A Kino Map illustrating the Baja

was a Peninsula


Born August 10, 1645, Eusebio Francesco Chini (Kino is the German version of Chini) in Segno Italy and was educated in Austria. After a serious illness he joined the Jesuit order and was ordained June 12, 1677. While he wished to serve in the Orient, his superiors ordered him to establish missions in Baja California and North West New Spain; present day Sonora and Arizona. In 1681 at the age 36 he departed Spain for Mexico.

Padre KinoAfter establishing a mission in San Bruno Baja California Sur, Kino arrived in Sonora in 1687 to work with the Pima Indians. He established the first church in the area and also explored areas to the north including modern day Arizona and California. It is said that his horseback expeditions covered over 130,000 km2 (50,000sq miles) – much of which he mapped.

Padre Eusebio Kino

Kino the humanist taught European agriculture techniques and animal husbandry to the indigenous groups. He was known to create positive relationships with the Indians; he opposed slavery and mandatory work in the silver mines and instead taught them trades and skills to assist their lives. The 20 cattle herd of cattle he imported, developed grew during his lifetime to over 70,000. The Zinfandel grapes are still common to the area.

Kino died suddenly in the town bearing his name; Magdalena de Kino. His remains were lost for many years and after a concerted search were discovered in 1966 near the site of his mission. The city proudly encased his remains in a crypt located in the Plaza Monumental.


Agriculture is the main economic engine providing the majority of economic and employment opportunities. A well/river irrigation system ensures a healthy harvest of 18,000 tons of vegetables, fruit, wheat, and sorghum.

Animal husbandry is also important; 20,000 head of cattle are raised to produce the “best in Mexico” Sonoran Beef.

Due to its proximity to the border, maquiladoras (tax-advantageous assembly plants) thrive in the municipality. Magdalena also has a thriving furniture industry.

Meeting the demands of the local population, Magdalena also has a healthy construction and service sector; grocery, hardware, liquor, clothing stores and restaurants.


The valley of: Magdalena has water year-round and boasts a “medium dry climate” with more rainfall than the surrounding desert locations. With a 3000ft (1000 Meter) elevation, Magdalena has a comparably moderate climate considering it is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Maximum daily average temperatures range from 80F in July and August to 52 F in December and January.


Getting there

Drive 85 kms (53 miles) South on Highway 15 from Nogales to KM 190.

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