Mexican history includes many periods of tragedy and strife, new arrivals and new occupations, followed by victories and celebrations. From the early settlers through the Colonial period (some of their architecture is still standing) to the Spaniards arriving, these notable historical events in its history has left many remnants behind.
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Through it all, the people have remained largely unchanged in their outlook and collective identity. Whether deep in the jungles, up in the mountains or in the old villages, dotted around the landscape, not much has been altered over the centuries.
One city that has seen it all and still retains its unique charm and fascination for visitors is Guanajuato. Standing approximately 400 kilometers to the north of Mexico City, it in some ways seems like the center of Mexico. Weather is also good for a visit there with a moderate climate which is comfortable most of the year, so it’s an accessible place almost all year round.
Old Mining City
Guanajuato is not large in size, but became a bustling hive of activity when the Spaniards arrived and subsequently found that the hills around the city boasted large deposits of gold and silver. The Spanish Crown at the time determined that the city was of huge significance to them and this information traveled far and wide.
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The topography of Guanajuato means that the local inhabitants chose to construct houses and other structures on the edge of the hillside that surrounds the city. The houses also lined the side of the hills too, with short pathways connecting each home. It is like something out of an abstract painting come to life and is truly a sight to see.
The Insurgency revolution that eventually led to the independence of Mexico has its roots in Guanajuato. The first battle for freedom against the Spanish occupiers happened in the city at a building called Alhondiga de Granaditas.
This enormous structure used to house supplies of wheat and corn. Some Spanish soldiers hid during the battle in this building, but the main door was set on fire by an enterprising Mexican who attached a stone plate to his back to protect himself from gunfire as he set the place ablaze. Later, the Mexicans gained access to the house and won a resounding victory.
Museums To See
There are a number of good museums in Guanajuato that are well worth a visit.
Museo Diego Rivera is the first home of this renowned local artist. A number of pieces are on display here, as well as some by Frida Kahlo.
Museo Iconográfico del Quijote houses some of the Don Quijote art collection, plus related works by Raphael and Dali.
Museo de la Mineralogia is a mineral mining museum which tells the story of the deep mining history in this city. The mineral collection might also be of interest to mining investors.
Museo Alhondiga de Granaditas is a fort and one of the important places to see whilst visiting the city. Paintings, historical documents and related objects are on display over several floors which tell the story of the first fight that led to the eventual independence of Mexico. One museum not to be missed.