Famous the world over, Guanajuato is one place in Mexico you definitely don’t want to miss. The area is soaked in rich history and traditions, and was granted World Heritage status in 1987 by UNESCO. The site has been ranked consistently as one of the top travel destinations in the world and it isn’t hard to see why.
Both locals and tourists are happy to classify Guanajuato as one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It was once a major mining town for silver, and many of the mines are still active and in production. Unusually, the city doesn’t have an actual date of founding, having evolved from a number of miner camping sites based around veins of silver discovered between 1540 and 1558. Unbelievably, a silver vein so enormous was discovered in the city, in 1558 that it produced a third of all the silver in the world for the next 250 years.
Guanajuato is built on very hilly surroundings, so almost every point in the city is slanted. Although this makes for interesting wanderings for the unbalanced, it is also an impressive architectural feat. Guanajuato also features a network of underground tunnels serving as roads, making even a drive in this interesting city very unique. The first tunnels were built in the remnants of a rive in the late 1960’s and new tunnels were added on later, with the last being constructed in 1990. Visitors can take buses that run along the tunnels if they want to experience them, although walking in tunnels near Centro (Guanajuato’s downtown area) is also quite safe.
One thing that Guanajuato is known for internationally, apart from it’s UNESCO status, is the Festival Cervantino, an internationally acclaimed arts festival held around the fall season in October. Lasting for most of the month, the event attracts almost 200,000 people and sells on over 450,000 tickets to events. These events happen in around 49 venues, including theatres and plazas, and are a cultural treat for any visitor.
Other sites in Guanajuato include the strange Museo de las Momies (the Mummy Museum), which came about following the forced exhumation of several bodies from local graveyards due to overcrowding. Surprisingly, these bodies were found to have mummified, instead of decomposing, and are now available for visitors to see in the museum.
If morbidity isn’t your cup of tea, you might have more fun visiting El Pipila, a 28-metre high statue of independence hero Juan Jose Marinez, also known as El Pipila. The legend goes that he wore a stone stab on his back as protection while he burned Spanish troops hiding in a granary around 1810. The site is accessible by cable car, just behind Teatro Juarez, and offers incredible views at night. Do check out the theatre (Teatro Juarez that is) on your way though, as it has interesting greek, roman and Moorish architecture making it a very beautiful and unique structure worth getting a few photos of. No doubt the photograph will be one of many you treasure from your trip to the amazing city of Guanajuato.