Guadalajara Travel Guide
Ranking as the second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara is nonetheless an easier-going place compared to the urban chaos of its big brother, Mexico City.
Best known today as a thriving centre of electronics manufacturing and the home of Chivas, a football team that is popular throughout Mexico and Latin America, this energetic metropolis at the heart of Jalisco State will take you by surprise throughout the duration of your visit.
Begin your visit to Guadalajara by visiting a unique attraction. The Instituto Cultural Cabanas was one of North America’s oldest and biggest hospices for the chronically ill, elderly and orphaned children, as it opened in 1791 to serve some of the most vulnerable citizens of Guadalajara.
The architecture is a departure from the clinical appearance of most facilities of this sort, as it boasts Neoclassical design elements that includes sweeping courtyards and stylish Roman style arches and facades.
The interior plays host to a wide variety of murals, but don’t miss the masterpiece in the chapel’s cupola, as the work known as El Hombre de Fuego, painted by artist Jose Clemente Orozco, is considered to be one of the finest frescoes painted in the 20th century.
There are a couple of spectacular cathedrals that can be found in Guadalajara’s city centre. The one that many consider to be the more breathtaking of the two is Templo Expiatorio, which is thought to be one of the finest neo-Gothic churches in all of Mexico.
With construction started in 1897 and finished in 1972, the time poured into this structure makes it stand out from its contemporaries, as the medieval style stone work and intricately crafted stained glass windows will cause you to linger longer than you planned.
Guadalajara Cathedral is another Christian church that is worth checking out during your time in town. Reinforced and rebuilt countless times since its founding in 1541, this Spanish Renaissance structure has a number of aspects that make it interesting, including an altar made of silver and marble, relics of St. Innocent (a former pope), and the heart of a former president of Mexico.
If you have a culture itch that needs to be scratched during your time in Guadalajara, then heading out to a show at Teatro Degollado is a sure way to satisfy this craving.
Another neoclassical beauty built to resemble the Pantheon, this performing arts venue hosts shows that celebrate everything from traditional Mexican dance to international touring operas.
If you are looking for some awesome day trips that make good use of Guadalajara as a base, then you’ll have several great options to pick from. Those that are into ruins will want to check out Guachimontones.
Located an hour west of town, Guachimontones is a site where terraced pyramidal structures are all that remains of a complex that was once thought to host temples, ball courts, and homes.
With many mounds still buried, it has the buzz of an active archaeological excavation, and considering its value to the region’s history, it has also been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Another trip you’ll want to consider making during your visit is one to the town of Tequila. Home to the Jose Cuervo Distillery, this otherwise chilled out place is where the now famous spirit was invented in the early 15th century by Spanish conquistadors.
Tours include a breakdown on how Mexico’s best known export is created from start to finish, and it comes with a tasting session at the end.
Finally, be sure to take a stroll around Mercado Libertad before leaving town, as it is the largest indoor market in all of Latin America. Almost 3,000 stalls here sell everything from clothing to video games, but it is the food that is the biggest draw.
Aside from the usual Mexican favorites (tacos, quesadillas, etc), sample some specialties of Jalisco State, which includes Birria (a type of goat stew), Pozole (a soup made with chicken, maize and a host of extra ingredients), and Torta Ahogada (a sandwich drowning in spicy tomato sauce, onions, and meat).