Can you imagine walking through the beautiful picturesque towns of Italy, Spain, or France while enjoying lively cultural atmosphere AND finding yourself surrounded by the rich and warm culture of Mexico? Look no further as you have arrived to Guanajuato City. Located in central Mexico and the capital of the state of the same name, there is no beating this magical town. Walking through its narrow and winding streets and alleys, with houses built above making it look as they’re floating, you will find yourself wishing to stay there forever.
Guanajuato’s name derives from the Purepecha word Quanaxhuato, which means “Mountainous place of frogs” or “Place of many hills”. It owes its foundation to royal mines, which over the sixteenth century made the city one of the most important mining centers in the New Spain. Due to its beauty and historical trajectory, in 1988 Guanajuato was recognized as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Currently, it is one of the main tourist centers of the state, tied with San Miguel de Allende, as well as one of the main colonial jewels of Mexico.
The city of Guanajuato is the capital of an already famous for its colonial beauty state and here, you can visit the alleys, streets, plazas, and tunnels of this city. When entering this town, it greets you with a spectacular underground avenue, known as Miguel Hidalgo Street, which follows the course of an old river that crossed the city. What is more, many of the city's thoroughfares are partially or fully underground, making it safe to walk everywhere as no cars pass through the streets. And you will want to walk to take in all its culture, history, and local color. The historic center has numerous small plazas and colonial-era mansions, churches, and civil constructions built using pink or green sandstone. Guanajuato has it all! So, join us today as we highlight sight seeing and places to be in this favorite town of ours!
Let us begin by featuring what Guanajuato is best at: experiences! Guanajuato is home for one of the country’s largest and most prestigious universities, Universidad de Guanajuato, adding that young and fun spirit to the town’s allurement. It might be for this reason, or for its focus on cultural and historic appreciation, that Guanajuato is a place where no one will get bored!
Here the nights are as lively as the days, if not more. One of its most popular attractions and ways of celebrating, which attracts dozens of tourists and locals alike, is the famous Callejoneadas. Callejoneadas are a “walking serenade”, where groups of locals follow a band dressed in 17th-century traditional clothing through the alleys of the city as they belt out classic Mexican folk songs with much appraisal and enthusiasm from the crowds who are singing along and drinking small sips of tequila. In them, one can learn the history of Guanajuato and some of its legends such as the Callejón del Beso, the most tragic love story in the city. Here's a video that provides a small glimpse of this unique experience!:
For those who love the Spanish language in all its representations, Guanajuato City holds a yearly festival ranked among the top four artistic celebrations in the world: the International Cervantino Festival. The festival originates from the mid 20th century, when short plays by Spanish playwright Miguel de Cervantes were performed in the city's plazas. Since then, this international festival has become the main cultural festival in the Spanish-speaking world, which holds cultural meetings and events in the widest array of settings in Mexico. During these two weeks, Guanajuato turns into a colorful representation of art expressions; with the participation of thousands of artists from different nationalities in disciplines such as performing and musical arts, plastic arts, cinema, literature, academic meetings, among other activities, this famous cultural celebration makes this *the* cultural party to attend.
Las Momias de Guanajuato, Guanajuato Mummies
The world renowned Momias de Guanajuato are a set of mummified bodies, which were discovered after the exhumation in tombs of the Santa Paula Cemetery, Guanajuato, Guanajuato. Unlike in other cultures such as Ancient Egypt and Peru, in Guanajuato mummification occurred naturally. The properties of the soil and the presence of minerals led to the conservation of the bodies over the years. Moreover, these are not conserved soldiers or kings, but normal people who died from an epidemic. The impressive mummies are exhibited in the Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato, one of the most important in the city that attracts the most attention. Today, the museum counts with a collection of 68 mummies, many of them with a name and a brief description of their cause of death.
Guanajuato’s gastronomy is also one of the best. It has a great variety of foods typical of the region such as: mole, enchiladas mineras, cecina, chiles rellenos, flautas, tamales, gorditas, and tlacoyos. In addition, traditional sweets are made such as: dried and canned fruits, ham, cocadas, coconut charamuscas, and peanuts in the shape of a mummy, celebrating what Guanajuato is well known for.
Having highlighted these main experiences, it is now time to pinpoint the places of interest in this extraordinary city. As we suggested before, Guanajuato’s streets alone are a sight to see, but these walks get better if we know where we are going, so let’s explore the places to see here!
Plaza Mayor o de La Paz
This is a semi-triangular square framed by the most beautiful buildings of the city, in the center of it is a bronze monument. The monument has a quarry and marble base made to commemorate the end of the War of Independence. If you’re lucky you might be able to witness one of the occasional art exhibits by local artists there!
Mexican Romeo and Juliet’s Tale: The famous Callejón del Beso, Kiss’ Alley.
This alley, whose narrowness accentuated at the height of two balconies that almost touch, gave rise to the legend of unfortunate and tragic love affairs between Don Carlos and Doña Ana, who met clandestinely on those balconies. Ana died at the hands of her father when he discovered her in the legendary kiss. Legend has it that couples who kiss on the third step are guaranteed seven years of happiness. This ritual is already a tradition for couples who visit this place and you can finish your callejoneada smooching your loved one there!
University of Guanajuato, Universidad de Guanajuato
This Mexican university earned its college designation in the 1700s, establishing various careers, such as jurisprudence and engineering. By 1945 the college was elevated to the rank of University and today has around 33,828 students in programs ranging from high school level to doctorate level – while over 17,046 students pursue undergraduate, masters, and doctorate degrees. The current building is an imposing neoclassical construction that was erected in the early fifties. It is characterized by its beautiful staircase, where you can see student life in action. It is currently the center of academic activity, as well as being a promoter of artistic and cultural activities. Lastly, this university brings thousands of young people to the town, promoting and cultivating student-life and cultural expressions from Mexico.
Pipila Monument, Monumento al “Pípila”
This monument was erected in honor of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez nicknamed “El Pípila”, a historical hero who during the War of Independence, set the door of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas with a slab on his back to escape the shootings, taking over the place and achieving victory.
Located at the top of the mountanouis town, this monument allows to take in the magic of this town. From the top of the monument you can see a panoramic view of Guanajuato, which is a unique spectacle by day and by night. You can get there by taking a panoramic cable car, where you can get a glimpse of this sightseeing, or take a climb of steps, if you are up to it.
It is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in Mexico, built between 1872 and 1903. It was inaugurated on October 27, 1903 by General Porfirio Díaz. Its portico is in the Roman Doric style, where eight columns support as many muses. Among its attractions it has an art nouveau-style foyer. During Callejoneadas or the Cervantino Festival, the outside of this theatre is filled with street performances and exhibitions!
This is a beautiful triangular park. Baptized by popular speech as the slice of cheese. Located in the center of the city, and surrounded by busy cafes and restaurants, it is a meeting place for Guanajuato residents, national and foreign students, as well as tourists. From Thursday to Sunday the student who invite people to the callejoneadas meet at this point to go with the groups of tourists to the traditional callejoneada.
No list of colonial town in Mexico is complete without its churches. If this interests you, be sure to at least walk by the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, with its unique yellow exterior and detailed red dome roof, inside you can admire the ancient figure of the Patron Virgin of the City; San Sebastián Church, where the heads of the national heroes Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama, and Jiménez were deposited, after being removed from the Alhóndiga de Granaditas; Templo de la Compañía, the largest temple in the city built with pink stone; and, of course, check out Templo de San Roque with its cozy entrance garden and plaza.
So, what do you think about Guanajuato City? Is this a place you have visited or would like to visit? What part of Guanajuato interested you the most? We hope that this list full of places definitely worth visiting encourages you to explore this exceptional awe-inspiring cultural wonder!
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