Guanajuato, a Must-see in Mexico

A brief review of what Guanajuato has to offer visitors.

This is based on personal experience. Facts were taken from Lonely Planet's Guide to Mexico.

Colonial in its essence, artistic in its aura, distinct in its country, Guanajuato will find its place in your heart even before you visit, that is, if you do some research on it. But visiting is a definite if you plan to be anywhere near central Mexico.

With a population a bit over 70,000, this well-known city isn't overcrowded yet offers much to do. My advice: walk, don't drive, as the tiny one-way tunnels can prove annoying for those who have never been. The city curves up and down with the slopes of the terrain. The city is at an elevation of over 2,000 meters. Walking offers a better view of the town as a whole, and dismisses the problem of parking.

Guajuato has a rather obvious charm. Founded in 1559, the architecture is enticing. Cafes and little restaurants are scattered throughout the compressed center. The city offers many sleeping options: hostels and hotels at an array of prices. The cheapest would be about $10 a night per person. There is always couch surfing (www.couchsurfing.org) if you can find a host for the time you want to stay. 

There are many things to do in Guanajuato, including three main theaters and several beautiful plazas and parks. The city is most famous for its arts festival, Festival Internacional Cervantino that brings in international music, dance and theatre groups. If you are there mid-October, be sure to find tickets for these events.

Otherwise, here is a list of suggested things to do:

1.The Don Quijote Museum — this museum displays all forms of artwork based on Miguel de Cervantes famous character in his book Don Quijote de la Mancha, first published in 1605. This is one of my favorite museums in the country of Mexico, despite never having read the book.

2.Callejon de Beso — this is a tiny but famous alleyway. The steps that lead between the two buildings are so narrow, two people can barely walk side by side. There are several versions of the legend, but basically: legend has it that a poor boy fell in love with a well-to-do daughter and the two would kiss from the balconies that nearly touch. The father forbade the daughter to see the boy, but the two continued their romance, until the father caught them one night and stabbed his daughter to death.

3.The Mummy Museum — this famous museum can have a rather dismal effect on those who come to see its 100-plus displays. I would recommend going during the day and doing something fun or watching something funny afterward. In 1865, to make more room in a cemetery, older bodies were dug up. Due to high deposits of lime and clay, the bodies did not deteriorate in normal fashion. Instead, they were mummified, leaving many facial expressions in tact.

4.Diego Rivera's House Museum — The house Diego Rivera was born in has been turned into a museum displaying some of his artwork, but mostly just the house and furniture. There is a theatre upstairs that features photographs of Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and at times, films.

5.Guanajuato started as a silver-mining city, so to find out some of the mining history, visit Boca Mina San Ramon.

As for places to eat, the city offers many. I would recommend El Gallo Pitagorico, with fine Italian cuisine and a great view of the city.

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