Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guanajuato, another magical place in Mexico

Mexicans put lots of color into their streetscapes. Brightly painted stucco was part of the architecture long before the Spaniards arrived.

Guanajuato spreads itself on hillsides that have been mined for silver for centuries. Many of the streets tunnel beneath the city center, so there are really two cities. Navigating in a car is extremely difficult, with all the underground routes, one-way streets and hairpin turns. We parked ours and took cabs.

It´s a labyrinth, as you can appreciate on this map.

A cablecar takes you up to a scenic overlook of the city, which has about 100,000 residents. Cindy remarked that its wrought iron balconies, narrow streets and palatial homes reminded her of European cities we´ve visited, like Genoa.

The city is a Unesco World Heritage site, largely because of its well preserved colonial buildings.

There is a famous granary building in Guanajuato where the heroes of independence won their first battle with the Spanish in 1810. Later four of these heroes, including Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico´s George Washington, were captured, executed, and decapitated and their heads were displayed from the granary´s cornices for 10 years.

The former Hacienda Barrera is today a museum and has a half-dozen impressive gardens with various themes.

The gardens at the Hacienda.

Guanajuato takes its name from the Purépecha language. It means hill of frogs, and there is a plaza with statues of frogs in many styles.

Our Easter candy used to come in baskets like these on display in the city market. Mexico must have been the source.

Cathedrals are colorful here.

Our hotel, the San Diego, was in what used to be a palatial home in the center of the city. Many of the hotels we´ve stayed in in Mexico have been marvelous to look at. Many have high ceilings, french doors, balconies and other nice architectural touches. For $80 a night, the beds are probably harder than Americans are used to, the bathroom is functional but probably small by American standards. High-speed internet access was free. I´ll take this type of place every time over a Holiday Inn, despite a few rough edges.

We´re suckers for archeological sites. This ceremonial center, known as las Plazuelas, thrived until about 1,100 years ago, when it declined for unknown reasons. Maybe invading Chichimecas.

1 comment:

  1. Aging Raconteur10:35 AM

    What is the style of those particular frogs. More to the point, what particular activity are they engaged in?