Guanajuato was once the richest city in all of Mexico and, at one time, the mines of Guanajuato produced one third of the world's silver. The wealth that came with the precious metal was well spent in this unique colonial city. It was the riches from the mines that provided the funds to transform Guanajuato into a cultural treasure. This city, which dates to 1558, is virtually alive with culture! This is a city of museums, monuments, theatres, magnificent churches and well preserved colonial buildings The abundance of culture spills over into the everyday life of this lovely city. There is almost always a concert, dance or theatre performance, art show or some other cultural activity available to residents and visitors alike.
The city is laid out along the steep and winding banks of an old river bed and everything about this historical city is irregular. The streets are windy and narrow, sometimes they just turn into a dead end, a steep walkway or staircase. All of these "Callejones" (little streets) will more than likely lead to a surprising discovery. It is difficult not to be surprised by the number of stately mansions and the incredible architecture that seems to be found around every corner in Guanajuato. Walking is definitely the best way to see Guanajuato, the historical center is fairly compact and everything is a fairly short walk. The cobblestone streets and walkways combined with the irregular, up and down, layout of the city call for good sturdy shoes if you want to really enjoy yourself.
The shady main plaza, El Jardin de La Union, is an excellent starting point for a walking tour. The plaza is also a great place to enjoy a meal or snack at the sidewalk cafes that are located here and is a great people watching spot. There are concerts presented in the plaza bandstand on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. The nearby landmarks and attractions are not difficult to find. The elegant Teatro Juarez is directly across the street and the museums, grand churches, other plazas and the stately university are all very close.
The tourism offices in Plaza de La Paz has free maps and offers helpful advice on what to see and what exhibits and performances are taking place. Be sure to ask about the evening "Callejoneadas" where you follow a group of young classically trained musicians, called estudiantinas, through the winding city streets while they play their guitars, sing and generally entertain the small crowds. A donkey sometimes follows with the evenings supply of wine strapped to its back. This is a regular happening in Guanajuato and something not to be missed. Guanajuato is the birthplace of Diego Rivera and a museum, which houses many of the famous painters early works, is in place in the home where he was born. If your into the grotesque side of life, the local Mummy museum should be of some interest.