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Guanajuato's Underworld

sunny 29 °C

The city of Guanajuato is precariously perched on near vertical cliffs and we can't help feeling that if there were an earthquake here the whole lot would crumble to the valley floor. There's not a flat bit of land in the whole place, which is not good on the legs but it makes for scenic views from the rooftop garden of our hotel....
On the surface, Guanajuato is much like many other colonial Spanish cities with grand palaces and beautiful, ecclesiastical edifices like the Basilica in the city's historic centre...
However, because of its location on the sides of the mountain there is not one central plaza but many, and each has its own iconic buildings. The Juarez theatre in the Union Garden is particularly elegant, and, unusually, it is open to the public when no performances are taking place. The auditorium and proscenium are splendid.
Guanajuato is the first colonial city in Latin America where we have had to constantly remind ourselves that we are not in the Mediterranean.
This is the first governor's palace - now an art gallery.
One of the first things we noticed about Guanajuato was how little traffic flowed through the steep, narrow, cobble-stoned streets even though this is just about the busiest time of the year. Two major events clashed this past weekend – the Festival of Candelaria and Constitution Day, when Mexicans celebrate the signing of their constitution in 1917. The streets were packed with pedestrians but very few cars...
And then we discovered the underworld...
Nearly all the roads in Guanajuato flow beneath the city in tunnels and it's possible to drive from one side to the other without ever coming to the surface. But the tunnels are not just for traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists use the tunnels as well, although we found it a little scary at first – especially when we got lost. There are sidewalks, bus stops, and signs in the tunnels, just like any other road, and they are fairly well lit. But is is certainly strange to see cars and people disappearing into this murky subterranean world...
The tunnels were originally the access tunnels to the many silver mines that brought wealth and notoriety to this city, and when the silver ran out they were turned into a road network that rarely sees the light of day...
Now we are leaving Mexico to visit our friends in Cuba. We have grown accustomed to clear skies and temperatures in the high twenties for the past two months so you may question our sanity in returning home in a week or so. However we have a busy spring and summer so we have decided to get a jump start on several projects – despite the sub-zero temperatures and occasional snow. Maybe we will be wondering if we had made a mistake in a couple of weeks, but for now: Goodbye Mexico and Central America, we had a great time. Hola Cuba.

Posted by Hawkson 16:59 Archived in Mexico

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The tunnels got to me. They look scary whether in a car or walking. Interesting history. Safe trip home.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Amazing. Now two cities in all your blogs that I've actually been to and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The Don Quixote museum was outstanding. Hope you took it in. Never had the nerve to go into those tunnels. Thought we'd die from exhaust fumes.

by R and B

Tunnels are amazing. Religious monuments look luxurious from here.

by Janet

Scary tunnels. Bliss for the pedestrians to have a near carless
town centre.
Hola to Cuba from Jersey.

by Christine Lloyd

Looking forward to some views of Cuba!
It's been fascinating to follow your route and adventures with you and seems as though it's been a long, long time since you started out. By time you get back I'll be on my route, back to Switzerland to meet our first grand-child.
See you in the spring sometime.

by Shelley Tillemans

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