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ZACATECAS

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Winding roads that cut through the urban skin of Zacatecas, a proud and stately City, in which the past is a part of the present, and this can be noticed on the notable architectonic lines of its temples and casonas (mansions), priceless legacy of the colonial bliss, when gold and silver profusely flowed from its mines.

And the labyrinth of streets in the Historical Centre of Zacatecas, considered as Cultural Patrimony of Mankind since 1993, always end up in some interesting spot, in edifices filled with stories or in palaces wrapped up by a legendary aura, as La Mala Noche, where a bankrupt miner abandoned its suicidal plans when he heard the news of the discovery of a fabulous vein of gold inside his lands.

La Mala Noche was the name of one of his mines and Manuel Reátegui, the mentioned miner in bankruptcy, became again the possessor of an immense wealth, as did many others in Zacatecas, who, drunken with power and money, did not spare expenses to raise their residences or to support with great sums for the construction of churches and convents, in order, so they thought, of saving their souls.

It is impossible to know if they accomplished this last will, but what remained as a true fact is that with their support the Cathedral Basilica could be constructed (1728), a luxurious baroque styled building with an impressive façade of carved quarry stone. During its times of splendour it was adorned with gold and silver, a beautiful ornamentation that was looted during the period called the Reform in the 19th century, under the ruling of an anticlerical government that closed many temples and convents in Mexico.
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ZACATECAS - MEXICO TRAVEL AND TOURS
Zacatecas Travel
Attractions in Zacatecas
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As a result from the economical apogee of the miners, Zacatecas became 'populated' by some magnificent buildings, as the gloomy though harmonic Palacio de Gobierno, a boisterous deed from the 17th century, with cast iron railings and a central patio framed by half point arches. A true beauty as it is.

Nowadays, many of the architectonical jewels of the colonial times are the seats to impressive museums (to some they are the best of all around Mexico), standing out among them the Pedro Coronel Museum, owner of the most valuable collection of universal art in Latin America, containing works by masters like Picasso, Chagall, Dalí, Vassarely, Joan Miró and Goya.

Another museum worth visiting is the Rafael Coronel, which shelters a collection of more than 5 thousand Mexican masks, being the biggest in the world of its kind. The masks exhibited in its halls depict the most intense feelings. These are the faces of angels and demons, of shepherds and beasts, of sad and happy men. The faces of the popular festivities and dances of the Country.

Streets filled with the history of Zacatecas, a City that was founded in 1546, after important veins of gold and silver were discovered. Its name comes from the Náhuatl voices zacatl (zacate: herb or grass) and tecate (people), which could be translated as "people from the grasslands".

Due to the great production of its mines, the City of Zacatecas, Capital of the State with the same name located in the central part of the Country, received from Phillip II, the king of Spain, a coat of arms and the title of "most noble and loyal City" (1585 - 1588).

Although the history of Zacatecas -at an approximate altitude of 2.200 m.a.s.l. and a distance of 560 kilometres from Mexico City- is oldest and goes back to the Pre-Hispanic settlements of nomadic and sedentary groups.

These cultural tracks were registered for posterity in the more than 500 archaeological sites strewn throughout the State. From all these places, the two most interesting ones are Altavista (230 kilometres at the Northwest of Zacatecas), a ceremonial and astronomical centre of the Chalchihutes Culture; and La Quemada (50 kilometres at the Southeast of Zacatecas), that should be the mythical Chicomostoc, from where the Aztecs departed to found the great Tenochtitlan.

The tour does not end in the Historical Centre, neither it does at the museums nor in the archaeological compounds. The journey must include a tour through the galleries of the El Edén Mine, discovered in 1586. This mine was the origin of many fortunes, but also brought an exploitation of the natives. Its production became exhausted after dominating the world trade market for more than 300 years. Nowadays, its premises are a very interesting tourist centre.

When leaving El Edén, you must get aboard the cable car on a short and amusing trip to the top of the La Bufa Mountain, a natural viewing point to achieve a full sight of the lovely Zacatecas: the city of yesterday, the city of today, the city of always. An unforgettable city.

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