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GUANAJUATO

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Travellers  in street typicalPitted, narrow and steep streets going up and down through all the corners of a city of colonial features, separating idyllic balconies witnesses of stealthy passionate loves; or leading to exquisite big houses and temples, fruit of the wealth coming from the gloomy mine tunnels, and of the boast of faith of powerful men who wanted to ensure a small place in heaven for themselves.

Street typical The old lampposts continue to shed light in these twisted and uncontrollable streets, illuminating the traces of the past, a past plethoric of bonanza that ceases not to be part of the urban present of Guanajuato, the city that was born and developed to the production rhythm of its fabulous silver mines, some of the richest on the planet, which generated huge fortunes and laid the foundations of several neoclassical and baroque architectonic jewels.

Church Guanajuato is a monumental city that reflects the preterit bonanza of the mining activity and the squandering spirit of their owners, who did not spare resources in order to build their big houses and palaces, and those churches and temples with which they were grateful to God for all they were achieving on the earth.

Candies Charamuscas of GuanajuatoDespite the passing of time and modernity, which always finds a crack through which infiltrate, Guanajuato still keeps a great part of its old Hispanic physiognomy, when it was the second city in importance, after Mexico City, in the vast and thriving New Spain.

But before it became a splendorous city, Guanajuato, whose name is translated as "the place of the frogs' hills" was a wild territory dominated by the Chichimec, a nomad group that lived out of hunting and gathering until 1541, when the first Spaniards showed up to get hold of their lands.

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  • Guadalupe Mine The discovery of rich silver and gold deposits (especially the former) boosted the development of the colonial city, founded in 1570. Later a Royal certificate would grant it the title of "Loyal City of Santa Fe and Royal Mines of Guanajuato".

    Such a pompous title was explained on a weighty and irrefutable economic reason: two thirds of the silver that poured out of the coffers of the Spanish Crown during the colonial period, was extracted from La Valenciana, a mine deposit discovered in 1548.

    Monument of the Independence When times began to change and rumours of independence grew in Mexico, Guanajuato was the scenario of a notable historic event: the capture of the garrison and prison of Alhóndiga de Granaditas (currently turned into a museum), which took place on October the 28th of 1810 and meant a victory for the libertarian forces.

    Detail of the San Agustin Church History has another bastion in the town of colonial roots of Dolores de Hidalgo, located at 54 kilometres from Guanajuato. Father Miguel Hidalgo would start the struggle for independence in this place on September the 16th of 1810, with the famous "Cry of Dolores", a call to break the colonial chains.

    These are events of the past that are useful to understand the importance of Guanajuato, a city that was declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1988, due to the value of its architectonic legacy, which is clearly evident on the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, built between 1671 and 1696.

    Other constructions of great interest are the Temple of San Diego (of characteristics proper of the Spanish style of Churriguera) and the mansion of the Earls of Rul and Valenciana, a splendid work of neoclassical style built during the XVIII century. It is currently the seat of the Superior Court of Justice.

    International Cervantino Festival The most transcendent cultural event in Mexico takes place in Guanajuato, capital of the homonymous state: the International Cervantino Festival, which has its origins in the representation of the so-called Cervantino Interludes, brief plays of one act that began to be staged in 1953.

    The Cervantino Iconographic Museum surged from this cult to the so-called "One-Handed of Lepanto", which exhibits artworks inspired on Quixote of La Mancha, the chevalier of the sad figure and his loyal squire, Sancho Panza, universal characters created by the renowned Spanish author. The artworks are fruit of the geniality of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Mario Orozco Rivera, amongst others.

    Guanajuato, located at 2000 metres above sea level and 300 plus kilometres north of the City of Mexico, is nowadays a city loaded with a past. Today its treasures do not pack the coffers of the Spanish Crown, but they contribute to enrich the memories of the travellers that get delightedly lost in its steep and narrow streets.

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