Zacatecas is not only one of the most photogenic cities in all of Mexico it is also one of the highest, at 8200 feet. Zacatecas, a city that is also rich in Mexican history, is very well known to Mexican tourists but is a relatively unknown destination for international travelers. This unique city, with its stunning colonial architecture, is situated in a steep valley which makes the design of the city itself very irregular. A walking tour is the best way to see Zacatecas, as there are many pleasant surprises in store for those who wander among the steep, winding and narrow cobblestone streets and alleyways that make up much of the central district.
Zacatecas was once a rich silver mining town that produced one third of all the silver in Mexico. The wealth that was derived from the mines shows up in the many ornate buildings that make up the city center. Many of the colonial buildings are constructed of unique pink sandstone, including the distinctive Cathedral de Zacatecas, which is considered to be one of the best examples of Mexico’s flamboyant baroque architecture. The cathedral, which was finished in 1752, is a masterpiece and one whose exterior detail could be studied for days on end. The cathedral is the main focus of the area around the Plaza de Armas, which is an excellent place to start your tour of Zacatecas.
Other significant attractions around Plaza de Armas, all within walking distance, are the magnificent Templo de Santo Domingo, Ex-Templo de San Agustin, Teatro Calderon, Palacio de Gobierno, the Palacio de Justicia or “Palacio de la Mala Noche”. The old central produce market, Mercado Gonzalez Ortega, just south of the cathedral, has been renovated into a charming mall with trendy shops and eating establishments. Other notable stops should be the Museo Pedro Coronel which contains hundreds of works by famous artists, the Parque Enrique Estrada where the remains of the city’s aqueduct may be seen along with an incredible mansion once owned by an ex-governor.
The city center also contains numerous museums, parks, squares and gardens, all begging to be explored. Don’t miss a chance to ride the cable car, Teleferico” in Spanish, that goes from one side of the steep valley to the other, affording great views and photo opportunities of the city.
Tours of the Eden mine take you into the tunnels and mine shafts that brought the all of the wealth to Zacatecas. At night a lively disco occupies a section of the old mine. To see all there is to see in the incredible city you will need a few days. Get some maps, wear comfortable shoes and remember to bring your camera. If you get tired of walking, take a taxi, they are very inexpensive here.
The citizens of Zacatecas are proud of their city; they are very friendly and helpful with tourists. They also go out of their way to keep the city clean and it shows…you can help them with this task. The tourist office is located at Hidalgo 403 (on the second floor - Tel: (492) 922-3426), one block south of the Cathedral, on the opposite side of the street. There is usually someone there who speaks English. They will be glad to provide maps and pamphlets and schedules of the many cultural events presented on a regular basis.