Picture a Spanish colonial town, so romantic that when you first see it, you feel as though you've fallen in love. Hear soft Mexican music echoing down narrow, cobblestone alleyways and enjoy the warm glow of the highaltitude sun kissing your cheeks.
Now breathe in the aroma of sweet gordita shells and corn tortillas sizzling on woodfired pans. Hear the quiet hum of a bustling town, neither too busy nor too idle. This is Guanajuato and it is Mexico's (and possibly the world's) most romantic town.
To fully enjoy the magic of this place, one needs to spend at least a week, wandering the endless labyrinth of narrow streets, gawking at the impeccable collection of Churrigueresque, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture and occasionally ending up in one of the cities many Europeanstyle plazas.
One of the things that makes Guanajuato so special, is it's pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Upon entering the city, you'll immediately notice a refreshing lack of traffic. This is because the city was constructed above an elaborate web of tunnels and roadways where most of the traffic is now found.
The tunnels were originally built in the mid-20th century to disperse the raging waters of the Rio Guanajuato (Guanajuato River), which once flooded the town on a regular basis. What was left behind after this remarkable engineering feat is a perfect network of tunnels for traffic to pass through, without polluting and disturbing the city above.
Can't-Miss Guanajuato Highlights
Once you get over the immediate shock of Guanajuato's obvious beauty, it's time to plan some routes and get out there to explore. Some main points of interest include the three quintessential examples of Mexico's unique Churrigueresque architecture in the churches of San Francisco, La Compañía de Jesús and La Valenciana.
Also find your way to The Jardin de la Union Plaza at the heart of historic Guanajuato, Plaza San Fernando, Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss), The Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato. The sites are seemingly endless in this enormous, living museum.
If you tire of sipping wine and listening to live music in plazas, wandering through back streets and snapping photos of architecture, consider heading to the Mummy Museum (Museo De Las Momias de Guanajuato) where you can stare in awe at a collection of real mummies (complete with hair, teeth and private parts) that were dug up from a nearby cemetery. The museum is not for everyone, but it will give you a good introduction to Mexico's strange, yet intriguing fascination with death.
Absorb the Artistic Atmosphere
The music that you hear echoing in the streets here is not just stationary bands, playing at bars, bistros and cafes, there is also a moving band that collects an audience as they sing and dance their way through the streets. These talented strolling musicians are known as Estudiantinas and you can follow them and sip wine as they meander their way through town in the evening.
At the end of a long and satisfying day of strolling around Guanajuato, stop by the Juarez Theater (Teatro Juarez) and pick up tickets for a show. There are live plays and beautiful orchestras here nearly every week.
By the end of your visit to Guanajuato, you'll probably see why so many tourists visit here and end up moving to the town permanently. There's such a young, exciting and artistic ambiance that seems to fill the cool mountain air around the city.
The students add to the city's nightlife, while the constant flow of visitors (both Mexican and foreign), ensures that Guanajuato has a great collection of bars, cafes and restaurants. There is nowhere in the world like Guanajuato, so hurry here before the secret gets out.
Nick & Dariece of Goats on the Road are a nomadic couple encouraging a lifestyle of Freedom, Travel and Adventure. They're always in search of unique ways to sustain their travels and are looking for cultural experiences, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten-path adventures.
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