High up in the desert mountains, a couple of hundred kilometres northwest of Mexico City is Guanajuato, an amazing city. Travellers arriving on their Guanajuato flights will discover a romantic and colourful city, its higgledy-piggledy collection of brightly painted buildings lining the narrow lanes and hugging the hillsides above a deep valley.
There are several reasons to seek cheap flights to Guanajuato. Not only was it, along with San Miguel de Allende, a “silver city” colonised by the Spanish in the 1500s and mined for its silver deposits, it is famed by Mexicans for the role it played in the country’s fight for independence from Spain. It is also the birthplace of Diego Rivera, the artist.
Guanajuato today retains much of the colonial era. The city’s buildings appear at times more European than Mexican, the plazas are suitably elegant, the churches suitably ornate and awe-inspiring. One of the most noticeable features of Guanajuato is its lack of streets. For these, look underground. The river, which ran underneath the city, used to flood the downtown area until a dam was built in the 1960s. The Underground Street (Calle Miguel Hidalgo) follows the river’s original course.
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- Its historical centre a Unesco World Heritage site, Guanajuato’s name translates as “place of frogs” in the local dialect, after the Tarascan Indians, followers of the spirit of the frog, spotted a mountain in the shape of a frog.
- For a taste of how a 17th-century silver baron lived, visit the Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, on the outskirts of Guanajuato. The interior is stunning, with furniture sourced from England, Spain and France, in enormous reception rooms. The 17 gardens and courtyards are all in a different style. A small chapel adds to the peaceful atmosphere. Open daily, there is a cafe.
- The Museo de las Momias is located on a hill overlooking Guanajuato. A sometimes grisly visit, the museum is home to dozens of naturally mummified bodies. It’s a big draw for tourists, from other parts of Mexico and around the world.
- Festivals in Mexico are colourful, lively events, an excellent reason to search for cheap flights to Guanajuato. These include the International Cervantes Culture Festival, the Expresión en Corto International Film Festival, and two medieval festivals, one during Holy Week and one in mid-December.
- Cristo Rey del Cubilete (Christ the King Shrine) is thought to mark Mexico’s geographic centre. Each year pilgrims make their way there to celebrate the Epiphany (January 6).