Most people around the world probably have no idea what or where Guanajuato is. After all, the modest-sized Mexican city of less than 200,000 is heavily overshadowed by Mexico’s flashier, more marketable tourist destinations — Cancun, Cabo, Acapulco, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, etc.
Mexicans, however, are well-aware of this ‘hidden’ gem in their backyards.
Guanajuato — the capital of the state that has the same name — is known as a safe destination to experience an authentic display Mexican history and culture. It is a particularly popular destination for Mexicans (and foreigners too) to spend traditional holidays, such as Semana Santa or Day of the Dead.
The city rose to fame among the new Spanish colonies in the 16th century for its rich mineral deposits, which led to a growth of population and an influx of capital to the highlands of central Mexico.
As investment poured in, winding cobblestone streets, elegant churches, and thick fortresses were built among the town’s steep, rocky hillsides.
But Guanajuato is more than just a pretty place to look at. Beautiful, colonial towns are a dime a dozen in Mexico, so what really etched the city’s place in history was its key role in Mexico’s independence of Spain. It was in Guanajuato in 1810 that the rebels achieved their first major victory over the Spanish crown, sacking the city’s granary that was defended by Spaniards and royalists.
I’ve never heard a bad word spoken about a visit to Guanajuato, and all my friends that have been there rave about it, so I figured during my five-week stay in Mexico that it wouldn’t hurt to give a week in the city a shot before heading home.
I spent lots of time wandering the maze of worn, stone streets, admiring the stunning architecture and centuries upon centuries of history that took place on the very ground upon which I stood.
While the stories to tell about Guanajuato are endless, I decided to delve into three facets of the city that I enjoyed learning about during my stay: The tunnels, Mexican independence, and Diego Rivera.