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    Guanajuato (GWAN-a-what-oh) (1990 pop. 113,580). Capital of the Guanajuato State, with an altitude of 6,583 ft (2 008 m), is a historical and picturesque town of agreeable little plazas, streets lined with stairs and houses of pastel-colored facades and balconies trimmed with iron work, and flower-filled window boxes, located about a five-hour drive northwest of Mexico City.

    The town is a maze of cobblestone streets and alleys that wind around steep hillsides upon a small ravine, opening into vistas of beautiful churches and small plazas. 

    Most of these passageways are largely pedestrians only, since modern traffic circumvents the narrow streets underground, in massive stone tunnels and upon the riverbed, past the basements of the core city. 

    During centuries, a major mining center, its mines pouring out silver for the Spanish crown, now a government seat and college town. Since 1988, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guanajuato has no traffic lights or neon signs, creating an extremely enjoyable place to walk, peaceful, yet with plenty of life in the streets, and plenty to see.

    Guanajuato. Oil by Jose Chavez-Morado


  • Hidalgo Market. Inside the cast iron of a french railroad station, this market offers fresh produce, exotic tropical fruits as well as folk art of the region (pottery, candies, snuff boxes, etc.)

  • Callejoneadas. On Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. (more often on holidays), from the Jardin de la Union, a students minstrel ("Estudiantina") dressed in 17th century costume, gather and lead all onlookers wandering through the narrow streets and alleyways serenading. Everyone is invited to follow. The north path (opposite to Juarez Theater) being less rough for persons with walking problems.  A nice way to get a feel of the typical Guanajuato.

  • Juarez Theater. Built in 1875 by engineers Jose Noriega, Alberto Malo & Antonio Rivas-Mercado, and commissioned by former president Porfirio Diaz in 1903. Facade with neoclassical colonnade and frontispiece crowned by the Muses. Exquisite interiors with Moorish motifs. Beautiful foyer.

  • Guided tours in english available at front desk.

  • Alhondiga de Granaditas, the massive city grain warehouse built in 1798-1809, where loyalists sought refuge during the first battle for Mexico Independence when besieged (1810) by Miguel Hidalgo at the outset of the war against Spain. In 1811, loyalists hung on each corner of this building a head of a leader of the war of Independence as a reminder. Now holds the Guanajuato historical and archaeological museum.

  • Diego Rivera's House Museum. Birthplace of famed muralist Diego Rivera, now filled with a comprehensive collection of his and brilliant artist Frida Kahlo's works.

  • The Mummy Museum. It's adjacent to municipal cemetery. More than l00 bodies line the museum's walls in glass cases. Some still wear their burial clothes, and others are, quite literally, just skin and bones. They have been naturally mummified by the chemistry of Guanajuato's soil . Open Mon-Sun 9:00 to 18:00.

  • Olga Costa/Chavez-Morado Museum. Nice Gallery of Art, created by both artists.

  • San Diego Church. First works of oldest church in the place date from 1663. Its facade is from the late baroque period. Inside, a statue of Jesus Child in a glass cage is offered toys as votives. 

  • Detail 

  • Parish Church - Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato. Baroque church dated from 1671. The little statue of the patroness of the city was donated by King Philip II of Spain. The local hero, Celedonio de Jarauta, is buried at the Faustina chapel.

  • Cata Church. Next to Cata Mining Works. Finished in 1725. The Seņor de Villaseca, one of the first images of crucifixed Christ brought from Europe is worshipped here. Tradition gives miraculous powers to the image and votive offerings are shown in a small chapel at right, first floor. 

  • Two side altars from the old Rayas church are now located in the transepts. The guilded altarpieces have related themes: one is dedicated to Christ portrayed as the Man of Sorrows, and the other to the Virgin of Dolores. The latter appears to be in its original state.
  • (La Compaņia) Company of Jesus' Church. Architect Felipe de Ureņa design with Churrigueresque facade sculpted in high relief from rose-colored limestone. Works lasted from 1747 to 1765 under patronage of the Jesuit priest Jose de Sardaneta, brother of the first Marquis of Rayas.  The restored painting collection in the sacristy is worth a visit. 

  • (San Cayetano) La Valenciana Church, built in 1765-1788 by the richest man of the New Spain, the Valenciana Count, with the huge profits of the nearby mine, but never finished. Oils by L. Monroy, c. XIX. Great acoustics to listen pipe organ works. Its Claustro was the first place in the Americas where simultaneusly were taught Latin, Greek and Hebrew. 

  • Don Quixote Iconographic Museum. Tuesday to Saturdays 10:00 - 18:30. Free entrance. It's dedicated to the main character of Cervantes' l7th century novel. Collection of objects by Ocampo, Coronel & Dali among others with the image of the thin errant knight of dismal countenance, and his short squire, Sancho Panza.

  • Ex-Hacienda of San Gabriel de Barrera. Former place for refining silver ores. Now a museum with an outstanding XVII Century art and furniture collection. The museum's jewel is the gilded open chapel. The old patios and warehouses are now cozy gardens for reading or just relaxing, and sometimes rented for weddings.

  • Festival Cervantino, a major international art fiesta on the streets and theaters each October. After Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote," whose plays are performed by college students on a small and picturesque plaza. Tickets for off-street events are available via the TicketMaster system. Mexico City's phone no. (+52 55) 53 25 9000. Guanajuato office is at Juarez Theater, street level, left side. More information at Plaza de San Francisquito No. 1; Colonia Pastita; 36090 Guanajuato, Gto. Mexico (+52 473) 731 1221, Fax 731 1217. ficgto@gto1.telmex.net.mx 

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