Guanajuato is the capital of the state bearing the same name and is located in north central Mexico. It is a city with a great historical and cultural wealth, a place of mining tradition dating back to pre-Columbian time, it was the center of exploitation of metals like gold and silver. It was founded in 1546 and is considered World Heritage by UNESCO since 1988 as a cultural and historical place in a set of town and adjacent mines.
"Guanajuato World Heritage and Cervantes capital of America"
This city has a very colorful and traditional architecture, which also is adapted to the conditions provided by the land. What stands in Guanajuato infrastructure, are a system of tunnels that cross the entire city which give a singular beauty, making it looks like a giant Gruyere cheese with many holes. These tunnels were built by miners, however, they were not used as part of mining, were initially built to solve a flooding problem suffered by the city in the late nineteenth century and only until mid-twentieth century began to be used as roads.
Transit under these tunnels is something that deserves to be appreciated, have a completely rudimentary structure, without much effort to make perfect finish; there are some that measure a few meters and others reach measure kilometers, as the Hidalgo Avenue the main and most extensive. Throughout the tunnels is possible to observe different entrances with stairs leading to the main places of the city, and all the people walk quietly under these regardless of the absence of light that prevails. At certain points, the tunnels do not have roof and you could see buildings of old houses that are around. In these colorful houses stands the building of a protruding cubic structures supported with wood, and it is said that these cubes used to be the toilet or bath of the houses, which were built just above the tunnels because the houses did not have drains and all the waste fell straight to the tunnels. Currently, this type of construction gives a unique touch and enhances the architectural beauty of the city. The entrances to the tunnels are located throughout the city, some even going unnoticed by its decoration and beautiful frames that adorn them.
View of houses from the tunnels at the points that do not have roof
Guanajuato has many stories to tell and have many places to see as part of the cultural and artistic wealth that is reflected in the small streets, museums and street art performances. This city is especially known for its “Callejoneadas”, being an act in which different artists groups called “Estudiantinas” take you through different streets of the city and tell stories, sing traditional songs of Mexico, dances and toasts are made. It is one of the best ways to learn about the history and experience the culture of this place, plus it’s fun and unique.
Estudiantina Group, they perform the callejoneadas, at rhythm of songs and stories by the main streets of the city.
In Guanajuato are many historical places to visit among these is the Valenciana Mine which provides access to one of the underground tunnels and on the outside you can visit the Valenciana church, one of the architectural jewels of the city. At its interior part has three altars made with gold mined from this mine, which adorn religious images as the Guadalupe Virgin. This church was built as a thank offering for having found gold, it is said that the miners used to entrust themselves to various saints imploring blessings to find such precious metals.
The Guadalupe Virgin in one of the gold altars at the Valenciana Church The Valenciana´s church ceiling
Guanajuato is also known for its mummies. Those who have seen “El Chavo del 8” a mexican tv program, very popular in Latin America, will remember that it was said that the Chilindrina´s aunts lived in Guanajuato; it was referred to the mummies. The Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato is located behind the city cemetery and it is right under it. There are mummies of different human beings like men, women, children and infants; some of them killed, drowned, and there is also the smallest mummy in the world that was found in the belly of a woman. The mummies were often exposed to the public without any protection but now remain behind glass, because some visitors used to touch them and many chose to take their body parts like fingers as a souvenir.
Juan Jaramillo "The traveler Mummy"
Juan Jaramillo is recognized in the museum as “the traveler mummy” has over a hundred years and so called because he has visited various exhibitions in other countries. It’s the mummy on best storage conditions, still it has his teeth and his skin intact. The other mummies have holes in their skin or missing parts because of the idle visitors, however it appears that most have their hair, beard, pubic hair, nails, teeth, and clothes with which they were buried, and some retain their coffin and their skin looks like cardboard.
Walk through the small streets of Guanajuato is really a delight, their balconies adorned with colorful flowers and small squares with fountains in the center surrounded by doves, art shops everywhere, historic buildings such as the University of Guanajuato, the Teatro Juarez, the Mariachis and Estudiantinas make the visit to this place, unique and irresistible to our emotions and aesthetic senses.
Versión en Español: GUANAJUATO – MÉXICO, ENTRE CALLEJONES, HISTORIAS Y CANCIONES