What to see in Mexico
Tourist attractions Guanajuato
Often cited as the ‘most beautiful city in Mexico’, Guanajuato is the capital of the state of the same name. Situated at the very heart of the country, at 2,000 metres above sea level, a trip to Guanajuato is the chance to uncover the history of what was once one of the most influential cities in South America. In fact, at the height of the colonial era, Guanajuato's mines accounted for more than two-thirds of the world's silver production! You can still visit the city’s prosperous mines if you travel to Guanajuato today, some of which remain in operation. The huge wealth from the precious metals mined in and around Guanajuato built a city filled with fine buildings, elaborate churches and brilliant monuments.
Sprawled across a narrow valley, the city’s historic core is home to the most grandiose architecture. Stroll a little way out of the centre and you’ll find narrow alleys, flanked by rainbow-coloured buildings and winding cobblestone streets.
Indeed, Guanajuato is not your ordinary city. A walk along its unique subterranean walkways or a visit to its curious Museum of Mummies reveal a captivating history of wealth, struggle and independence. The city is known as the cradle of the Mexican independence movement, a fact this state capital is proud of. Spending time here is the chance to uncover the true culture of Mexico, from mouth-watering cuisine to the cheerful melodies of the mariachi band.
Due to its highland location, Guanajuato enjoys milder temperatures than many of Mexico’s other top destinations, making it ideal for travel at any time of the year. Day trips to Guanajuato are popular for travellers staying in nearby San Miguel de Allende. On the other hand, Guanajuato is a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside of the picturesque central highlands.
Things to see in Guanajuato
Simply people-watching in Guanajuato’s plazas is a great way to get a feel for this characterful city, but there are some things you simply must include on a tour of Guanajuato. One such sight is the El Pipila Monument, in honour of a brave young miner named Juan José de los Reyes Martinez who fought for his city’s freedom during Guanajuato’s struggle for independence. The monument is situated on an outcrop overlooking the city, and a short funicular ride puts it within easy reach of the old town. As well as the monument, tourists flock here to take in the spectacular panoramic views of Guanajuato. Furthermore, from up here, you can truly appreciate the unique layout and skyline of the city.
Among the best-loved sights in the city is the curious Callejon del Beso, or ‘Kiss Alley’. One of the most popular things to see in Guanajuato, couples flock here to share a kiss on the site of the city’s most fabled story. The legend goes that two forbidden lovers lived opposite each other on this tiny street, and would lean across their balconies to sneak a kiss when no one was looking. Nowadays, there’s a steady stream of loved-up travellers that visit this narrow alleyway to recreate Guanajuanto’s most famous tale.
As mentioned earlier, Guanajuato grew to be one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico thanks to its colonial-era mining industry, and a vacation to Guanajuato would be incomplete without paying a visit to the legendary La Valenciana Mine. Opened in 1774, the mine continues its operations to this day. This was the mine that generated the wealth required to build the city’s numerous churches and mansions and visiting La Valenciana Mine is the chance to uncover Guanajuato’s unique silversmithing heritage. A guided tour allows visitors to see the workings of the mine, including its 530-metre-deep shaft.
Another unique thing to see in Guanajuato is its famous Museum of Mummies. The story of the mummies contained within the museum is a tragic one. In 1833, the city suffered a devastating cholera outbreak, and the death toll was so high that a tax was imposed on permanent burials. Therefore, many of the deceased were disinterred from their graves to make space for new burials. The bodies in the best condition were stored in a nearby building, and the unique geography and climate of Guanajuato resulted in the natural ‘mummification’ of many of these corpses. Subsequently, this collection of mummies began attracting attention, leading to the creation of Guanajuato’s Museum of Mummies. The collection numbers more than 100 mummies and, although macabre, this museum is among the city's most visited attractions.