"Travel Notes from Guanajuato" Top 5 Page for this destination Guanajuato by gdilieto

Guanajuato Travel Guide: 217 reviews and 729 photos

A Touch of European Sophistication

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At time of writing I have visited many Mexican colonial towns in many years I have been traveling to Mexico and Guanajuato is arguably one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable of the ones I have traveled to. It is somewhat different from other traditional Mexican colonial towns, exhibiting in its architecture, churches, squares and alleys a pleasant touch of European sophistication.

Extending along a narrow valley, Guanajuato reminds many travelers of San Francisco (without the ocean, of course), for its crooked streets up and down the slopes of the surrounding hills. It reminded me instead of a combination of Paris and Positano (in Southern Italy): Paris for its picturesque little squares with romantic fountains, tree-shaded parks and flower-decked balconies and Positano for the colorful houses piled up on the steep hills one over the other below. Guanajuato has remarkable churches, palaces and monuments, legacy of its wealthy past of silver capital of the world, as well as some pleasant museums worth visiting, but you will get the best from your time just wandering the Plazuelas y Callejónes (little squares and alleways) of the old colonial center where you will find, at day and night, picturesque recesses to relax and enjoy the very special atmosphere.

Guanajuato's old colonial center has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. This Guanajuato Website provides good tourist information about the city.

The Silver Mining Capital of the World

Fortune and decline of Guanajuato have been tied over the centuries to the discovery and exploitation of silver deposits in the area. The city was founded in the middle of the XVI Century after Spaniards found rich veins of silver in the mountains surrounding the city. Guanajuato soon became a colonial boomtown flourishing as the silver mining capital of the world and producing for three centuries nearly a third of the world's silver of the time. In the beginning Indians were used as slaves in the mines and later on workers were employed at the same miserable conditions. Owners of the mines became some of the wealthiest men in the New World and the city of Guanajuato flourished with colonial mansions, churches and buildings. Along with the depletion of the silver deposits, in XX Century, came the decline of the city. Today the economy is based on commerce, tourism and the university. Some of the mines are still in operation though they are largely worked out.

The Legend of El Callejón del Beso

The picturesque alleways of Guanajuato have produced many legends. One of the most tragic and romantic is the one of el Callejón del Beso (the Alleway of the Kiss); this is how I heard it told: Doña Carmen was the young daughter of a rich man of Guanajuato. She fell in love with a poor miner, Don Luis, but her father had different plan for her: get her married in Spain to a rich, old noble, to restore his dwindling fortune, so when she found out about the daughter's love he locked her up. Don Luis did not give up and figure out a plan to talk to her. A window in Doña Carmen's home gave onto an alley so narrow that it was possible, leaning out the window, to touch the wall on the other side with a hand. He spent a fortune to buy that place and eventually managed to talk to his love on the opposite balcony. The father broke up in Doña Carmen's room right when the two lovers were talking and, in a fit of rage, stabbed his daughter to death. Doña Carmen's hand, still in his, slowly went cold. Resigned to the inevitable, Don Luis left a tender kiss on that smooth, pale hand, now lifeless. This is why this spot is called the Callejón del Beso.

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  • In a nutshell:One of the most enjoyable Mexican colonial towns
  • Last visit to Guanajuato: Nov 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (14)

Comments (2)

  • VdV's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2009 at 6:31 PM

    Nice tips on Guanajuato. I only spent one day there, and your advice on spending at least two full days there sounds about right. Hoping to go for a return visit sometime.

  • malianrob's Profile Photo
    Sep 28, 2008 at 7:40 AM

    Guanajuato is definitely on my list of places to visit. I really love traveling in Mexico. It is a big coutry with alotto see. Maria


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