If you want to study Spanish in Mexico, Guanajuato is the ideal place to do it. For more than 200 years, Guanajuato was one of the world’s richest cities, producing 20% of the world’s silver in its heyday. Guanajuato today is colonial jewel, with lovely stone buildings and cathedrals, broad plazas, well-manicured gardens, and narrow alleyways lined with flower-draped, wrought-iron balconies.
Many of its cobblestone streets are free of traffic, thanks to a network of underground tunnels that channel cars and buses under the city center. Guanajuato state’s rich past brims with Mexican revolutionaries, artists, and politicians. Father Miguel Hidalgo, the great Mexican rebel, was born here and began Mexico’s independence movement in nearby Dolores Hidalgo. Guanajuato’s Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, also known as La Pipila, set the blaze that allowed rebel forces to win the first battle of the independence movement.
The artist Diego Rivera was born and raised in Guanajuato city, and his childhood home is preserved as a museum dedicated to his life and art. And Vicente Fox was elected president of Mexico in 2000 after a successful tenure as Guanajuato state’s governor. You can learn about Guanajuato’s history, enjoy art from colonial to modern times, and even view a rare collection of mummies in the city’s many museums.
What to do in Guanajuato?
As home to the University of Guanajuato, the city has long been a center of learning and culture. You can enjoy plays, symphonies, concerts and lectures at one of three renowned theatres. Its student population also lends a lively, bohemian edge. A favorite pastime here is exploring the city’s eclectic restaurants, relaxing cafes, and a vibrant nightlife. Guanajuato also hosts festivals throughout the year, including the world-famous International Cervantino Festival held every October. Artists, musicians and visitors from around the globe come to Guanajuato to celebrate the works of Cervantes and enjoy a variety of entertainment.
Here are the top places to visit in Guanajuato:
- Jardín Unión: The Jardin Union in Guanajuato is the heart and soul of the city and home to the city’s best bars and restaurants. Enjoy this triangular park, a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. At night there is an energetic and fun atmosphere as Mariachi bands and performing students entertain the restaurant patrons. The Jardin Union is the place to start your evening but the great food, free-flowing drink and never-ending entertainment may mean that your night ends there too!
- Teatro Juárez: The Teatro Juarez is one of the most architectural stunning buildings in Guanajuato, themain entrance is in the Doric-Roman style, straight from ancient Rome, while the flamboyant interior is oriental inspired. The theatre is regarded as one of Mexico’s premier theaters and by the standard of the magnificent exterior and beautiful interior rightly should be.
- Templo de San Diego: The facade is in the Baroque style and the architecture is astounding, equal to anything you would see in Spain. The church is located in the center of town so everything is easily located. Plenty of cool places to eat and drink surround the temple and you can find lots of street entertainment and things to do, just a walking distance away from it. During the week there are local vendors selling their goods, street food and many other typical things of the region.
- Plaza de la Paz: This semi-triangular area is surrounded by some of the most beautiful buildings in city and has a monument to commemorate the War of Independence. At the back of the square, which is located in the heart of the city, there ist the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, which is one of the greatest and beautiful church of the city.
- Mercado Hidalgo: Guanajuato’s market (the Mercado Hidalgo) is housed within a classical iron structure, which dates from the final stages of the industrial era. It is a 2 story indoor market selling from touristy stuff (handcrafts, souvenirs, etc) to groceries (food, confectionery and clothing). It is said, the structure of this market was originally intended to be a train station in Antwerpen, Belgium, but it was brought to Guanajuato by President Porfirio Diaz and completed in 1910, shortly before the start of the Mexican Revolution. The façade of this building is made of pink quarry and boasts a tower. Mercado Hidalgo, Guanajuato’s market is a chaotic collection of market stalls, selling a wide range of items and a fantastic place for visitors to haggle for gifts. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, you can find typical Mexican sweets and artisanal products of the region.
- Monumento al Pípila: This monument was erected in honor of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez or “El Pípila”, who made possible the taking of Alhóndiga de Granaditas. To reach this place use the funicular (cable car) just behind Teatro Juarez. Juan Jose Martinez, or also known as El Pipila, is the legend of a hero who wore a stone slab on his back to protect himself while crawling to the only door of the Alhóndiga, or granary, in September 1810. He then tarred and set fire to the door allowing the rebels to enter and defeat the Spanish troops. The view is beautiful, particularly at night. it was built in 1939 by Augusto Gutierrez Visit the monument for a panoramic view of Guanajuato. It´s spectacular day and night.
- El Cubiliete: The Cerro del Cubilete is 2,579 meters above sea level and is one of the highest peaks in the state of Guanajuato. At the top is built a shrine dedicated to Cristo Rey, Christ the King, famous for its huge statue with open arms. Originally, there was also a smaller figure of Cristo Rey but it was destroyed during the last stages of the Revolution, the so-called Guerra Cristera (Cristero War). The current temple was completed in 1944 under the orders of Nicolas Mariscal, and consists of a large circular platform of three tiers in Art Deco style. Its form of the globe crowned by the enormous Christ (20 meters high and weighing 80 tons) has gone around the world. It also has the “Cristero Museum” which includes various historical documents and short films about this time. is one of the most frequented sites in Guanajuato, not only for religious pilgrims, but for those wanting to discover the national character.