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ZACATECAS

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In the midst of a valley, and guarded by impressive mountains spreads Zacatecas, the Capital City of the State of Zacatecas. A bright faced City, with many magnificent buildings and colonial churches, raised with the fortunes of mining tycoons that obtained their fortunes from the extraction of gold and silver from the entrails of this blessed land.
In Zacatecas you will be transported back to the past, not only for the reminiscing air of its streets, squares and museums (considered as some of the best of Mexico), but also through the cobbled walkways of Altavista and La Quemada, two spectacular archaeological compounds that will allow you to improve your knowledge of the Pre-Hispanic roots of this region.
Declared as Cultural Patrimony of Mankind by UNESCO in 1993, Zacatecas has plenty attractions to offer. Therefore, during your stay in this noble and kind-hearted City, you must visit the following places:

Historic Centre

-Government Palace, is a sober and harmonious building, an architectonical stronghold erected in the 18th century as the residence of one of the most influencing families of the colonial Zacatecas.
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Built with a moderate baroque style, this two storey abode has a façade with cast iron railings. In its interior, stands out the elegant central patio outlined by half point arches and the exquisite 'Reception Hall', a very aristocratic room, provided with chandeliers and old furnishing.
Another extremely interesting detail is the wall painting of its main staircase. Elaborated in 1970, this valuable artwork that combines both painting and sculpture, depicts the history of Zacatecas, its most important archaeological sites, its colonial past and its present economical activities Since 1831, this Palace is the seat of the Executive Power of the State of Zacatecas. It is located in 604 Hidalgo Avenue facing the Major Square. It can be visited on any day of the week, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

-Palacio de Justicia o de la Mala Noche - Justice Palace or Bad Night Palace, was the former residence of Manuel Reátegui, a rich miner of the zone who, due to fate and his own dissipation, became utterly impoverished. In desperation, he decided that his only way out was through suicide.
On the night this former tycoon was planning his end, someone knocked on his door to give him some great news: a fabulous vein of gold ore had been just discovered in his Mala Noche Mine. He was saved by the bell.
Since then, this big proportioned palace, with its delicate staircases and beautiful balconies began to be known as Mala Noche, as a reminder of the rich mine that prevented the suicide of Reátegui.
La Mala Noche, which was built in the 18th century, in the times of the independence struggles became the seat of the State's Congress, but it was only since 1985 that it turned to be the premises of the Palace of Justice. It is located at the Hidalgo Avenue, number 699. It can be visited from Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 8:00 pm.

-Catedral de Zacatecas - Cathedral, its architectonic monumentality forces one to think about divine inspiration, and from a more terrestrial point of view, in the fabulous richness of the wealthy miners who brought the funds for its construction.
The Cathedral has three façades, (central, northern and southern) which have a decoration around which scholars never agree. Some of them sustain that it is a superb example of the churrigueresque style, while others think that it actually belongs to the baroque. But in spite of any arguing of its true origins, all the scholars agree that it is a beautiful example of colonial architecture.
The central or main façade is divided in three levels and is flanked by two towers. One of them contains a bell that was cast with the funds obtained from the donation of jewellery and coins by the Zacatecan devotees. In its first level its impressive door of carved wood is one of its main elements.
In the second level of this façade we need to pay special attention to the window of the choir, framed by a fine embroidering of carved stones. On every one of its angles can be observed the figures of the four doctors of the Latin Church (Saint Gregory Magnum, Saint Geronimo, Saint Augustine of Hipona and Saint Ambrose of Milan) and at its sides a pair of apostles, among other details.
The southern façade is composed by two levels and is dedicated to the Virgen del Patrocinio, the patroness saint of the City, while the northern façade has as its principal topic the Crucified Christ, with the caring figures of Saint John and Saint Mary at his sides.
In the interior of the Cathedral we can find large Doric pillars, neoclassic stone altars and arches decorated with lauretanos marianos icons (the doors to heaven, the morning star and others), elements of the Passion (the coins of Judas, the spear of Longinos, the edict of Pilates and others) and images of saints and martyrs representing the history of Christendom.
The Cathedral started to be built in 1730, on a lot where two other temples of simple structures had been previously erected. It finally opened its doors on August the 5th of 1752, and is situated in the Main Square of Zacatecas.

-Ex Casa de la Moneda, was built during the early years of the 18th century, gold and silver pieces were coined in its premises between 1810 and 1905. In the present days, this elegant building with its façade of quarry stone is the seat to the offices of the Secretary of Finances of the State. Indoors, we have to pay attention to a mural painting by the Zacatecan artist Antonio Pinto Rodríguez, depicting the history of currency in Mexico. Another interesting detail is the coat of arms that adorns its front façade.
It is located in 807 Hierro Street, and can be visited from Monday to Friday from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

-Templo de Santo Domingo - Temple, is an extraordinary religious construction that stands imposing sumptuous at the front of the Santo Domingo Square. Its origins go back to 1616, when the Jesuit order erected the modest parish of the Inmaculada Concepción, which would be later enlarged and remodelled between the years of 1746 and 1749. Hence it would not only have its name changed, but also its decoration with the construction in its interior of eight baroque styled shrines.
When the Jesuits became banned from America, the Temple's property befell in the hands of the Dominicans who, in the 19th century, replaced the original baroque styled main altar piece for one with a neoclassical influence, a fact that modified the prevailing structure of the Temple, but left unaffected its architectonical artistry and grandeur.
In the interior of Santo Domingo are kept some exquisite works of religious art, as an oil painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe and an image of a Christ with indigenous features, a thick beard and a wound on its left cheek, which symbolises the betrayal of Judas. This image, made with a paste of corn, stands at one of the sides of the main altar. The Temple is situated facing the Santo Domingo Square. It can be visited every day of the week, from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 to 8:00 in the afternoons.

-Former Convent of San Agustín, is a magnificent religious compound that began to be constructed in 1613, thanks to the support of a wealthy miner who was seeking to 'ensure' a place in the kingdom of Heaven. In spite of the generous donation, the construction was only finished in the last years of the 18th century.
The delay actually proved to be worth the while, because the Convent is nowadays a splendid edification with its eight huge domes, half pointed arches carved in quarry stone and a patio with pilasters adorned with mouldings. The compound also contains the Temple of San Agustín, built by the Augustine priests after their arrival to Zacatecas in 1575.
During the times of the Reform (1855 - 1861), both the Convent and the Temple became expropriated by the government, resulting in the neglect of its preservation, which caused the loss of many artistic and religious objects.
Almost one year later, between the years of 1948 and 1969, some restoration works were done, but in spite of all the efforts, its premises did never recovered its old splendour. The only reminder of its original magnificence is a drawing that was performed in the year of 1850.
Nowadays the former Convent is the Episcopal headquarters, while the Temple is employed for cultural activities. The compound is located at the Miguel Auza Street and receives visitors from Tuesday to Sunday between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm.

-Mercado González Ortega - Marketplace, is the perfect place to buy some of the exquisite wines that are produced in the region along with a great assortment of fine handcrafts, specially of those in silver, which resume the creativity and skills of the people of Zacatecas.
The past history of this market can be traced back to the year of 1886, when the construction of this place for business was started in the spot where the old Main Square of the City used to be. The works were concluded in 1889, resulting in a handsomely built neoclassic styled building, with its cast iron columns.
In the year of 1901 a big fire ravaged its third level, where cheerful festivals used to take place, and in 1982 its structure was subject to a complete refurbishing, thus turning into an updated commercial plaza. The market keeps its doors open all days between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm.

-Teatro Calderón - Theatre, its story begins in 1832, when with the funds raised by the neighbours of Zacatecas the premises of an old penitentiary began to be remodelled, in order to transform its gloomy cells and yards into a magnificent theatre in which the most sublime art expressions could be properly performed.
The history of this theatre was marked by fatality, as if it actually were performing a great dramatic piece, whose first act, enacted in the year of 1855, had as its main character a devastating fire that turned the house of the art of Zacatecas into a pile of ashes.
Nevertheless, the ending of this act brought a spec of hope, when the butny theatre became reopened with the name of the dramaturge Fernando Calderón one May the 16th of 1897. Lately, in 1902, the first movies were to be projected in this hall. This was the end of act one.
Second act: the time is 1914. The Mexican Revolution makes its appearance in stage. Zacatecas becomes a chaos, struggles and fights take place everywhere and a building next to the theatre was blown with explosives, resulting in severe damages to its facilities and, as if that was not enough, when the war was over nobody took the care of restoring its past magnificence. It continued to serve as a cinematograph, rehearsing hall, radio station, circus arena and even as a sport field. End of act two, the curtains come down once more.
The last act of this drama is centred in the recovering of the theatre and starts in the year of 1985. Everything bursts with optimism, thrust, intent of beautifying a stronghold of the culture of Zacatecas. It was by then recovered its exquisite decorations with a perfect blend of soberness and elegance, the half pointed arches of the entrance were rebuilt and the classic elegance became overly renewed end of the final act.
The Theatre is situated in 501 Hidalgo Street, facing the Goitia Square. It now belongs to the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, which has turned it into its restless and many-purposed cultural centre.

-El Cubo Aqueduct, in the last years of the viceroyalty and also in the first times of the new republic, a very long aqueduct was constructed in Zacatecas, to bring water from the El Cubo mine to the place in which nowadays stands the monument to the General J. Jesús González Ortega and from this point to the Independencia Garden, the former Villarreal Square.
The aqueduct stopped functioning in 1921 and its memory vanished from the collective memory of the City until the works for enlarging one avenue started. It was then that the authorities decided that the architecture of the ancient canal must be preserved, having called their attention the peculiar archways of pink quarry stone.
In the year of 2002 a special illumination system was installed in order to enhance the great ornamental value of the aqueduct. It crosses the González Ortega Avenue.

-Mina El Edén - Mine, it may have been due to a lucky strike, a fortunate event that helped to discover in 1586 a fabulously rich gold and silver vein in a mountain nearby the heart of Zacatecas. Since then, and for more than three hundred years, the ores extracted from the entrails of El Edén dominated the world market thus generating huge fortunes as well as an uncontrolled exploitation of the indigenes.
The speeding growth of the City, the continuous flooding of the galleries and the near exhaustion of the vein (zinc and copper, along with other minerals were also extracted from the mine, besides gold and silver) motivated the closure of the El Edén Mine, until on January the 1st of 1975 it became reopened, only this time as a tourist attraction.
The tour starts in the La Esperanza Gallery, where a train transports the passengers through a 520 metre long tunnel. Next, the trip is done walking by the galleries, hanging bridges and tunnels of El Edén, which will allow to know and understand the straining job of the miners.
A very peculiar place is the El Malacante Discothèque, located in the area where the grinding of the ores was done in the old days. The most daring visitors can go over a hanging bridge to reach the end of the gallery, wherein they will find the image of the Holy Child of Atocha and an artificial waterfall.
The adventure continues at the cable car that climbs to the top of the La Bufa Mountain (2.620 m.a.s.l.) in a short but nice trip. When you reach the summit, you will experience more than one surprise.
  • Cerro la Bufa Mountain, is the ideal place from which to have a splendid view of the City of Zacatecas. But besides the splendid panorama from above, you can also visit there the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Patrocinio (the patroness saint of the Zacatecans), the meteorological observatory that was founded in 1906 and the Toma de Zacatecas Museum (go to the museums item). The story tells that the Spaniards were who christened this combed mountain with the name La Bufa, a Vasque word that means 'pig's bladder'.



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