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Guanajuato Mexico

Guanajuato's history can be traced to a spanish colonial mining camp in the 1520's . . . which led to the discovery of rich silver deposits. The large silver vein (found in 1558) led to a much larger settlement. As the number of miners grew, the mines became larger and the mountains of ore became mountains of silver. By the 1700's Guanajuato was producing a third of all silver in the world. The mountains of silver have been generous to Guanajuato, and they are still counted among the best producing silver mines in the world.

Guanajuato has a population of around 115,000 people and is the capital of the state by the same name. The city rests at 6,562 feet (2,008 m) above sea level, and resembles some cities in Europe that grew up without a plan. Its streets are a maze of pedestrian only walk ways that were never designed for cars (cars travel through underground tunnels). The narrow winding cobblestone may lead to alleys, stairs, dead ends or hidden churches and plazas. Pay particular attention to how the buildings were built to fit within the asymmetrical shapes within the non-existent grid (more like something designed by Dr. Seuss). Wandering these streets guarantees that you will get lost . . . Only then will you will realize that being lost here is a journey of discovery.

Guanajuato has been described as the most picturesque city in Mexico and is a UNESCO world heritage site (since 1988) for good reason. The streets, the buildings . . . the city itself is its main attraction.

The most popular must see attraction here is the 92 foot (28 m) tall statue of El Pipila located on top of the San Miguel hill. The statue stands as a monument to Juan Jose Martinez (El Pipila) who became a hero in the war of Independence by strapping a flat stone to his back (to protect him from the Spanish rifles) and set the door of the Spanish stronghold (the granary) on fire. This heroic action allowed the 20,000 strong Mexican force to defeat the Spanish garrison (1810). -- But people don't come to see the giant statue for its history . . . they ride the funicular to the top of San Miguel hill for the breathtaking panoramic view of Guanajuato.

Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 to 1556 & also ruled as Charles I of Spain) donated a statue (now a thousand years old) to Guanajuato in order to keep it safe from an Arab invasion. The statue found a permanent home in the Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato (finished in 1696) . . . So that should be on your list of things to see.

Museo Iconografico del Quijote : When writer Eulalio Ferrer spent time imprisoned in a Spanish concentration camp, he developed a passion for the character Don Quijote which lifted his spirits while in that dismal place. After he fled Spain for Mexico, he began to collect pieces inspired by the man from La Mancha. Its a very interesting collection of art, sculptures and murals with one theme . . . Don Quixote! Located on Manuel Doblado 1

Museo de las Momias : Before 1858, if someone was buried in the local cemetery, relatives had 5 years to pay for the services. If no payment was made by that time, the corpse would be removed to make room for paying customers. The minerals in the soil preserved the bodies well and you may now see some of these poor souls displayed in glass cases. The Mummy Museum is on Panteon Municipal and can be reached in a Taxi. The fee (around $5 US) does not go towards paying for their burial.

Mercado Hidalgo : When you are ready to shop the Mercado, take note that this one was designed by Gustave Eiffel. Located on Calle Juarez near Mendizabal.


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