Monday, August 15, 2011
Mexico: Historic mining town of Guanajuato
The Historic Town of Guanajuato, another old mining town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, was our next stop. We took an early morning bus from Zacatecas to Guanajuato which was about 5 hours and arrived late in the morning. Like in most towns of Mexico, the bus terminals are outside the city center and we had to take a cab into Guanajuato. We actually didn't know where to go and we just told the cab to drop us off in the centro historico.
Several minutes later, we found ourselves in front of Mercado Hidalgo, Guanajuato's old market. And just at the right time since it was nearing lunch and we were sure the market had some great local fare. We were attracted to a stall selling carnitas, a choice we did not regret at all. We tried out both the tacos and torta de carnitas.
After getting maps from the nearby tourism kiosk, we made our way to the Guanajuato Basilica. From where we started, we thought Guanajuato was going to disappoint. After seeing a good number of Mexican towns already, we were yearning for something new.
As we moved further from Mercado Hidalgo towards the basilica, the interesting character of Guanajuato started to emerge. Its winding roads kept producing surprises at every turn, charming colonial buildings or old churches with pocket plazas with neatly-trimmed trees which looked like tall hedges forming a natural perimeter around the squares.
Then appeared the Plaza Mayor and Guanajuato Basilica or the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, painted in a vibrant yellow and red. Guanajuato definitely had a different architectural vibe which we very much appreciated.
There were actually more churches to visit nearby including the Templo de la Compania de Jesus and the Templo de San Francisco among many others. Behind the Templo de San Diego and Teatro Juarez is a funicular which takes you up a mountain that overlooks Guanajuato. A monument to local hero El Pipila was built with a commanding view of the city. Seeing the grand view of Guanajuato was definitely worth the trip up.
After taking photos, we took the funicular down again and continued walking around, making our way back to Mercado Hidalgo for a late afternoon snack before returning to the bus terminal.
We explored more of the market and enjoyed the colorful local culture that one can experience when visiting markets.
Although our plan was to eat in the market again, we ended up eating at a taqueria across the street called El Paisa. Those were among the best tacos I had during the trip. Of course, the best taquerias have a complete set of condiments which includes tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, guacamole and salsa rojo.
If you get a chance to visit Guanajuato, and have time to spare, you might want to visit the Museo de las Momias since Guanajuato's mummies are very famous; and the Casa Diego Rivera, the birthplace of Diego Rivera among other museums. The mines are also part of the UNESCO inscription and a tour there would be very interesting as well.
Guanajuato was literally a day trip for us since we decided to spend the night in San Miguel de Allende.