Guanajuato is the capital city of Guanajuato State. At roughly 7000 feet above sea level, in central Mexico’s high plateau region, the city is spread over steep hillsides at the junction of three ravines. It enjoys mild weather year round.
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. It is a colorful, vibrant city, a university town (University of Guanajuato), that is beloved by artists, writers, musicians, travelers and locals. It is host to the largest Latin American music festival, Festival Internacional Cervantino, popularly known as El Cervantino, which began in 1972, which brings in musicians and audiences from around the world, every October.
Founded in 1554 and given city status in 1741, the town became one of the three greatest silver-mining centers of the 16th century. Its celebrated Veta Madre (“Mother Lode”) was described as the richest in the world. The fabulous wealth was used to build the elaborate and richly endowed churches, including the Templo de San Francisco (1671) and the Iglesia de San Diego(1663). Another icon is the exquisite Parroquia de Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, a stately 17th-century church with a statue of Virgin Mary dating from the 8th century and a wooden image of Nuestra Senora de Guanajuato, thought be the oldest piece of Christian art in Mexico.
Guanajuato’s historic city center and nearby colonial-era mines—including a shaft about 2,000 feet deep (Boca del Infierno/“Mouth of Hell”)—were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988.
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Photography by Bonnie Wolkenstein, Ph.D. All rights reserved.