Guanajuato (map) is the capital city of the state bearing the same name. It is 390 km (about 250 miles) northwest of Mexico City. The name of the city means “Place of Frogs” in the local indigenous language and therefore the frog is the city’s official pet.
Guanajuato is a beautiful mountain colonial town. Many tourists and locals consider this city to be the most beautiful in Mexico. It used to be a major silver mining town, and many of the mines are still active. The city has a network of underground tunnels that serve as roads making this place unique in the world.
The city historic center and the adjacent mines were proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. In 1558 a big silver vein was discovered in Guanajuato and produced nearly a third of all silver in the world by the next 250 years.
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The city is home to the Mummy Museum (map), which contains naturally mummified bodies that were found in the municipal cemetery between the mid 19th and 20th centuries.
The Guanajuato underground tunnels are a network of wide channels that help lead traffic away from the city center. These tunnels have different layer crossroads and underground junctions. The tunnels are used for traffic which is heading in an eastwards direction. The westward direction passes through the center of Guanajuato. All of the tunnels have footpaths and even some of the bus stops are subterranean.
The center of the modern city is Plaza de la Paz (Plaza of Peace, map), also known as Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza). Since the colonial period, the richest of the city’s families built their main homes here, along with government buildings and the parish church, now a basilica.
If you are looking more for handmade crafts and more touristy stuff, take a bus to San Miguel de Allende (map), about an hour away from Guanajuato. There is a large open-air artisan market there. If you’d like to purchase handmade ceramics, take the roughly one-hour bus ride to Dolores Hidalgo (map).
Semana Santa (Holy Week). The week preceding Easter, usually March or April. Easter is considered to be the most important religious holiday here, and commences with celebrations honoring Viernes de Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) on the final Friday of Lent. On Viernes Santo (Good Friday) at midday the Passion of the Christ is reenacted in front of the basilica, and in the evening the Procesíon de Silencio (Silent Procession) winds through the streets. Many tourists visit from other parts of Mexico at this time, and room rates are generally double.