Guanajuato Overview

Guanajuato, the City

Select cities create atmopheres that induce enthusiastic vibes and pleasurable sentiments just by an unknown unique element of the city - Guanajuato is one such city. Embedded within and along hillsides the city houses 80,000 Mexicans in a colorful and entrancing display.

Guanajuato is a city of splendor and great historical significance. It is the capital of one of the thirty-one Mexican states, also named Guanajuato. Originally a silver mining establishment settled by the Spaniards in 1554, it is located roughly four or five hours north of Mexico city and lies landlocked, hours from either cost. The beauty, history, and subtle mystical attributes of the city led it, in 1988, to be named a world heritage city by the United Nations.

Full of attractions, Guanajuato is perhaps best known for the 1800s military fort - the Alhondiga, the Pipila statue erected on a hilltop above the city, its morbid mummy museum, the birthplace of famous painter Diego Rivera, and its annual Cervantino festival.

GTO CollageFrom Left, Clockwise: Teatro Juarez, Plaza de la Paz (note El Pipila on the hill), a busy mercado at lunch time, and El Jardin at dusk (taken from the steps of Teatro Juarez)

During my stay in Guanajuato I saw a lot of the attractions, but what I enjoyed most was wandering the splendid callejones (tiny streets) and trying to feel well-acquainted with the city. Rambling through the alleys could lead to groves of beautiful homes, scenic city vistas, and possibly delicious and cheap food.

When I am fortunate enough to travel abroad on programs, I cherish most trying to feel at home in places I stay. And with Guanajuato I now have that affinity; returning would invite much nostalgia and warm memories.

History and Myth

Guanajuato was the site of the first revolutionary bloodshed during Mexico's war for independence. In 1810, Miguel Hidalgo led his troops to Guanajuato and fought a costly battle while seizing control of the Spanish-built fort - the Alhondiga.

Alhondiga InteriorThe Interior of the Alhondiga

Stories of the Mexican's heroic victory are wrought with lore. According to the legend, the Spanish fort was virtually inpenetrable due to its worldy craftsmanship. The Mexicans suffered great losses of forces (this part is true) in their charges against the fort's entrance. With hope fleeting and despair setting in a young miner from Mellado, a small mining town, stepped forward . Amassing his courage, wit, and strength the young man, best known by his nickname 'Pipila', marched towards the entrance bearing a great flagstone upon his back. Thereby protected from the Spanish firearms, Pipila set fire to the gates, which soon burned and were able to be broken asunder. Although Pipila was killed in the struggle that ensued, his bravery swayed the tide of the battle, allowing Hidalgo's troops to triumph. He is now immortalized, standing ever-vigilent upon a hill overlooking Guanajuato.

PipilaEl Pipila, Overlooking Guanajuato

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