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Mariachis and tequila, harmony amid vibrant music and intoxicating taste. Perfect and splendid combination. Traditional stamp in a land of singers wearing wide brim hats, artisans shaping the malleable clay, and impetuous charros testing their valour and dexterity in the Mexican rodeo.

"Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores… porque cantando se alegran cielito lindo los corazones" ("…sing and cry not… for singing pretty little sky" the hearts are gladdened) intone the mariachis and their melodic words seem to advice or foresee what travellers will encounter on their visit to Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco… "no te rajes" ("do not sneak or run away", as they put it), where ancient and peculiar habits, capable of agitating even the coldest hearts, endure.

In their singing, the mariachis also reveal that Guadalajara is on a plain, a plain that has transformed - and this is not said by the musicians but by the statistics - into the second largest city in Mexico, a modern and conservative metropolis at the same time, a city welcoming progress without disregarding the value of its traditions, forged during more than 450 years of history.

And that is why the Plaza of the Mariachis, very close to the heart of the city, shakes with the cords, winds and portentous voices of the popular singers during the evenings; similar to those heard also at Tlaquepaque, a town of Guadalajara's metropolitan area that vibrates, dances and celebrates with these melodies that have become synonymous of the Mexicans.

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And that is why in 1919, was founded in Jalisco the first formal association of charros, those horsemen, daring and brave, who are the zealous protectors of their country inheritance. This is also the state in which tequila, the national beverage of Mexico, is produced.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons for singing instead of crying in Guadalajara, a metropolis founded in 1532 by Nuño Beltran de Guzman, who full of nostalgia baptized it with the same name of that of his hometown in Spain. Long time after that - the 27th of May of 1824, to be exact -, it would become the capital of Jalisco.

History - not the mariachis - says that by the end of the XVIII century and the beginning of the XIX, Guadalajara was progressing at a steady pace. Its textile industry was fully developing, while in the educational ambit the university was instituted in 1792, and regarding the urban development, the Cabañas Hospice was built in 1805; currently a cultural centre housing precious murals painted by Jose Clemente Orozco.

The Tapatia (name given to matters regarding the city) lands were no stranger to the social movements that changed the face of the nation, such as the Independence War and the Mexican Revolution. Confusing and uncertain times, but also loaded with illusions and hopes that in one way or another contributed to the current progress of the metropolis.

Guadalajara - at 546 kilometres from the City of Mexico and at 340 kilometres from Puertos Vallarta - is an important trade centre, with a pronounced political and judicial independence. A modern place accurately organized and with little pollution. It keeps architectonic monuments in its historic centre, like the Metropolitan Cathedral, an indisputable symbol of the capital of Jalisco.

But the attractions are not constrained to a temple of proverbial beauty. No, there are many more and range from the neoclassical lines of the Teatro Degollado (Cutthroat Theatre), the serene ampleness of the Plaza Tapatia and the fascinating architecture of the Cabañas Cultural Institute, to the unbelievable colour of the Libertad (Freedom) Market, the biggest in the western hemisphere.

And between the toasts with tequila and the songs of the mariachis, the visitors will have time to be delighted by the works of the artisans of Jalisco, who perpetuate the techniques they learned from their fathers and grandfathers.

True paradises of creativity, with the "mountains" of pottery and the "herds" of mules made out of corn leafs, are found in the towns of Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Tlaquepaque and Tonala, all within Guadalajara's metropolitan area, all a few minutes away from the Historic Centre.

History and modernity in the capital of Jalisco. A bastion of the Mexican culture in a fertile valley of the Sierra Madre Occidental that squanders a benign weather… the song is over. The mariachis clear their throats, breath in some air and tune their cords in some corner of Guadalajara, a corner in which you could and should be.

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