Guanajuato Travel Guide
Introduction to Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a unique place in Mexico, as its streets, despite their spaghetti-like nature, encourage exploration.
Banished to underground tunnels, locals and visitors alike are free to roam amidst brilliantly painted homes and buildings, many of which are surprisingly sophisticated in their design.
This underlies its status as a wealthy silver mining city, and while its glittering veins aren’t as productive as they once were, the gold rush of tourism has kept this gem of a town as prosperous as it always has been.
Cultural Experiences in Guanajuato
There are many beautiful and colorful buildings in the heart of this city, but there is none that is quite as stunning as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato. This Mexican Gothic, mustard coloured cathedral stands out in Guanajuato’s historic downtown to all that happen upon it.
Within, you’ll find an image of the Virgin Mary that was brought here from Spain as a gift from the Spanish monarchy in recognition for the silver wealth that the mines of this city were providing the Spanish Empire. Covered in jewels, it’s a dazzling sight that will easily serve as the highlight of a tour of its ornate interior.
When night falls in Guanajuato, take in a show within the gorgeous walls of Teatro Juarez. Fronted by a Greek-style facade that contains Moorish design elements, the interior of this theatre will bring you back to the Gilded Age with its posh frescoes on the walls and ceilings, and the thick curtains that are pulled back at the start of every show, just like it was when this cultural asset opened at the turn of the 20th century.
Check with the box office on what is showing when you get here, so you can enjoy the performing arts in a world class theatre that is virtually unknown outside of this country.
For those looking for something truly unique, the Museo de las Momias is an attraction that shouldn’t be missed. Brought about by the imposition of a graveyard tax in the mid 19th century that led to the exhumation of scores of bodies, this institution shows off a fraction of them that underwent a mummification process after burial.
While this might be harrowing to some, others will find the preserved remains a fitting accompaniment to this nation’s comfortable relationship with death, which culminates with the celebration of the Day of the Dead on October 31st.
Other Attractions in Guanajuato
Want to visit a tribute to one of Guanajuato’s greatest heroes, while getting a great view of the city at the same time?
Take a funicular to El Pipila, a statue that lionizes a mine worker turned civil war hero. As the fight shifted to the city off Guanajuato, he knew where a detachment of Spanish soldiers were holed up, and roused the populace to go to the grain warehouse where they were hoarding food, silver and gold.
The place was lit on fire, and El Pipila became a national icon as an entire nation stood up against Spanish imperialism. Apart from its historical significance, its location atop a sizable hill above the suspended valley where the bulk of Guanajuato can be found makes it an ideal vantage point for photographers looking to shoot the city from above.
Want to try one of Guanajuato’s most famous dishes, in addition to a variety of other excellent Mexican dishes?
Mercado Hidalgo is where you’ll want to go at lunch time, as there are a number of food stalls that serve up Enchiladas Mineras, which is a hearty take on the well-loved dish. It also is home to a wide variety of candy, which is definitely a reason for families and the young at heart to visit.
Guanajuato is a place that isn’t lacking in great places to dine, but if you are looking for a particularly atmospheric place to have dinner or a coffee, then Jardin de la Union is where you’ll want to make your plans.
With well-trimmed Indian Laurel trees, roving mariachi bands, and no shortage of university students hanging out here after a long day spent in classes, an evening spent in this square certainly won’t be a boring one.