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Guanajuato: A Cradle of Color

by planetnomad on October 11, 2010

Sometimes one can’t pinpoint the most apt description for a place until it’s highlighted spot-on by others.  In a recent article about the city of Guanajuato, the Mexican Travel publication,  “México Desconocido” aptly describes this city as sometimes appearing as one of M.C. Escher’s creations.  One visit to this former silver mining giant and you will soon agree with that description after getting lost in its many twists, turns, tunnels and flat out gorgeous geometry.

There seems to be no end in sight to the bold and beautiful colors that blanket this city and its outlying areas.  The silver mining is long gone here, but the riches have remained to the point that it was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.  Along with this esteemed designation, the city marches on as being one of the cultural and artistic jewels of Mexico and Latin America with museums, theatres & art housed in some of the finest Baroque and Neoclassical-inspired structures found anywhere.  Highlighted below is a list of sights which should be on any itinerary when visiting this lovely city.

Alhóndiga de Granaditas

Originally built as a grain storage facility, it has also served as military housing and even a prison over the years.  But, it is best known as the site where Juan José Martínez or  “El Pípila”, as known by many, fought for Mexico’s Independence in 1810 alongside other insurgents partial to Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.  Currently, it serves as a regional museum housing art and a collection detailing the history of the state of Guanajuato.

Visitor Info:

Open Tue-Sun from 10-2pm & also from 4-6pm

Admission Price:  $46 MXN

Alhóndiga de Granaditas

Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

Surrounded by the manicured flowering beds of Plaza de La Paz, this religious icon has stood front and center since the mid-late 1600’s when it was fashioned in its Baroque style.  Nowadays, one would be hard-pressed to overlook its stunning, ochre-splashed walls that tend to brighten the city even more on a clear day.

Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

El Pípila

From this monument honoring the Independence War hero, Juan José Martínez, great panoramic views of the entire city can be enjoyed.   It’s reached by foot, bus or a funicular, which is located behind Teatro Juárez.

Funicular Info:

Open daily from 8am-9pm

Admission Price:  $27 MXN

El Pípila Monument

The University of Guanajuato

Situated in a finely detailed Neo-classical building, this university, with a student enrollment in excess of 20,000, has been meeting the scientific and research needs of the academic community for close to three hundred years.

The University of Guanajuato

Templo de San Diego

Next to Teatro Juárez, this Franciscan-built church serves as the meeting place for the nightly performance of the traditional “Callejoneada” or singing student performers.

Templo de San Diego

Teatro Juárez

Unveiled to the public in 1903 by President Porfirio Díaz, this structure impresses the masses with its red and golden-colored Moorish-inspired interiors.

Teatro Juárez

Museo de las Momias

To “stare death in the face”, takes on a new meaning at this museum on the outskirts of town.  Over a 120 bodies of mummified men, women & infants are on display here.  They were exhumed from the adjacent city cemetery of Santa Paula as early as 1865, and found to be well-preserved due to the ideal mineral ratios of the existing soil.  Reasons for the exhumations range from the inability to pay for burials to the  “space-making” needs of the cemetery.

Visitor Info:

Daily from 9am-6pm

Admission Price:  $52 MXN

Museo de las Momias

Callejón del Beso

Translated as “Alley of the Kiss”, this spot is a popular picture-taking area because of its extremely narrow passageway.

Callejón del Beso

Plaza de la Paz

Adjacent to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, this setting provides an ideal spot for people-watching while dining at the numerous cafes.

Plaza de la Paz

Panoramic View From El Pípila

A trip to Guanajuato should include a trip to this prominent point for a grand view of the city’s layout and surrounding mountains.

Panoramic View From El Pípila

Other Points of Interest

Museo Casa Diego Rivera
Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato
Museo Iconográfico del Quijote
Jardín de la Unión
Boca Mina San Ramón

Useful Websites

Getting Here

By Air:  Nearest airport is Del Bajio (BJX)

By Bus:  4 1/2 hours from Mexico City’s North Terminal

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Abi October 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm

That first photo really does look like an Escher creation. Gorgeous!

Mary October 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks for the new discovery (for me). The pics and the flow were perfect.

Ashley October 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Oh, that alley way is adorable! And I love the colors of the buildings! Definitely haven’t visited enough of Mexico…had such a great time this summer, we’re thinking about going back next summer too 🙂

planetnomad October 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

Thanks Abigail for your comments! Yes, It’s very easy to get disoriented in this Beautiful City, but in a good way. 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your comments!

planetnomad October 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

Mary, Thanks for visiting and leaving such lovely comments behind! Guanajuato was also a “discovery” for me since this was my first trip there. I definitely plan on making it back there someday….really, really loved it! Cheers!

planetnomad October 15, 2010 at 10:48 am

Always great to see you Ashley! Yep, the colors really draw you in don’t they? I’m also like you and have not visited enough of Mexico….I thought I had, but there’s so much more to discover! Happy Travels!

Lisa E October 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Great post….and fantastic photos! I’ve been to Mexico several times and have yet to visit this city. I really need to. It looks wonderful and it’s one of those places with the near-perfect weather, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks for the great info. I will keep this in mind for my next visit!

planetnomad October 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Thanks Lisa for your visit and kind comments! I had never been to Guanajuato until recently and have just been completely drawn in by its beauty. You are right about the “near-perfect” weather…it’s known for its “spring-like” weather that’s present year-round due to its higher elevation. I highly suggest you visit someday…you won’t be disappointed! Keep us posted on your trip there, would love to see pics and hear about your experience! Safe Travels!

Jen Laceda November 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

You are convincing me to go to Guanajuato! I also want to combine this with a trip to San Miguel de Allende! Woo-hoo, a perfect vacation for me!

planetnomad November 12, 2010 at 1:17 am

I’m really glad you feel like visiting Guanajuato after reading the post Jen….I will take that as a compliment…Thanks! The city is so amazing, that I have to include it as one of my “favorite” places in Mexico now. I love everything about it, especially the architecture and the beautiful colors around. I didn’t have a chance to make it to San Miguel, but have heard some great things about it. You should definitely visit both since they are so close to each other! Thanks for visiting!

LeslieTravel December 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Beautiful photos! That giant sculpture of a man is really impressive. I’d love to visit Mexico and see the beautiful architecture and art.

planetnomad December 31, 2010 at 11:07 am

Thanks for your comments Leslie! As I’ve mentioned to others, Guanajuato is a dream place for snapping photos because of its amazing sights at every turn, literally! You really owe it to yourself to visit not only this city, but explore other parts of Mexico, especially if you’re fond of art and architecture. Let us know when you decide to visit…I would love to see your pics and possibly read about your journey! Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

LeslieTravel January 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

Good to know! Hopefully I’ll make it there in 2011 🙂

Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures February 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I visited Guanajuato with my grandmother when I was 12 or so and I only rmember 2 things:

-Shopping around the square at the various options for the Comida Corrida.
-El Museo de Las Momias–At such a young age, this was place was TERRIFYING! Thank you for NOT including any pictures of the mummies… 🙂

planetnomad February 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

Aaron, Guanajuato is surely a place worthy of a return visit, especially if you haven’t been in some time. Yeah, there are certain things I refuse to photograph, and one of those is deceased bodies. I think one has to draw the line somewhere and show some restraint and respect. Besides, there are so many photo opportunities everywhere you turn in this gorgeous city that you’d be hard-pressed to return home w/o some great shots!

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