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Guadalajara : capital
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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Its nickname is the "Pearl of Occident", pearl because of its colonial style beauty and Occident because of its location in the western part of the central plateau of Mexico. The city has the same latitude as Hawaii and an altitude of 1550 m (5,091ft). It is perched on a plateau above the rich Valley of Atimapac.
Guadalajara, whose name comes from the Spanish city close to Madrid, means, "flow of the river under the rocks". Founded the 14th of February 1542 by the Conquistador Nuño de Guzmán, it was designed as Capital of New Galicia by a royal order. Its large avenues, splendid parks, places and monuments are the witnesses of a historic past whose inhabitants are proud of. Spend time in Guadalajara to discover its wealth and enjoy its charm. Spring is eternal there. The city has one of the best climates in North America : clear, dry and mild, with an average temperature of 19.2 °C (68°F) and a rainy season from June to October.
Its inhabitants proudly carry the nickname of Indian origin : the Tapatios, « Three times dignified ». The city preserved the colonial architecture downtown.

With about 4,096,000 inhabitants (metropolitan area), Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, is the birthplace of many traditions : the mariachis, the charreada (Mexican rodeo), the jarabe (hat with large brim) and tequila.

Guadalajara is, nowadays, an industrial modern city with a colonial tradition. Its wealth authorized it to cleverly renovate numerous historic monuments, which are mostly used as public buildings. The many local industries are located in the periphery of the city and downtown presents strictly controlled zones of circulation, walking streets and many parks. Cathedral of Guadalajara

Even if the colonial plazas, the palaces, the mansions and the baroque churches are mainly grouped downtown, you can find other ones in other sectors of this busy city. The most beautiful walking tour in Guadalajara, covering the historic and modern areas, starts at the Cathedral and ends at the Hospicio Cabañas (converted into the Cultural Institute). The construction of the church started in 1571 and ended in 1618. It took so much time that you can observe six different decorative styles in its architecture. Its famous towers with yellow and blue tiles, built two centuries later after an earthquake in 1818, are now the landmarks of the city.

Left picture : Cathedral of Guadalajara

Eleven neo-gothic altars, of German style, took the place of the previous baroque altars. You will notice the tubular French organ from the nineteenth century. The famous painting of Murillo, "The Assumption of the Virgin", can be seen at the sacristy, as well as the wonderful sculptures of the Christ and some liturgical objects.

The Cathedral is surrounded by four nice places. The Plaza de los Laureles (Indian Laurel trees) is located in front of the big gate; the Plaza de Armas constitutes the historic center of the city. The Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres is north of the cathedral in a small park with statues and busts of Jalisco native famous sons. East of the rotunda, you can find the Museo Regional, set in an ancient Spanish hotel, dating from the late seventeenth century. It originally housed the seminary Saint-Joseph. It was then converted into a boy’s college and has been the museum of fine arts since 1918. It is called today the Museo Regional (open 9 AM-5:45 PM, Tue-Sun, MXN$41, Liceo #60). Among the main paintings of this museum are the works of Manuel Cabrera, José de Ibarra, nicknamed the Mexican Murillo, and José María Estrada. This museum displays also, in many rooms organized around patios, archeological collections and documents dating from the Independence.
Two blocks west from the cathedral, the Mercado Corona is also very busy, with vendors of medicinal plants and natural herbs. The streets all around are among the most pleasant in Guadalajara. Many of them are planted with orange trees and bordered with bright colored houses, adorned with wrought iron gates and patios with bougainvilleas and jasmines.

On the north side of the Place of the laurels or Guadalajara Place, stands the Palacio Municipal (open 9 AM-3 PM, Mon-Fri), built mid twentieth century in the baroque style. Admire the coat of arms of the city sculpted on the portico. On the stairways, murals by Gabriel Flores, an Orozco’s student, picture the foundation of the city.
The Plaza de Armas, the oldest in the city, is adorned with Greek inspiration statues and embellished with a music kiosk from the nineteenth century. This always much visited Art Nouveau kiosk was made in France. Don’t miss the concert of traditional music of the municipal orchestra on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 PM.

palace of government The Palacio de Gobierno, (open daily 9 AM-8 PM), located at the east of the Plaza de Armas, is a remarkable building whose construction started in 1643. It was edified on the site of the old palace destroyed by an earthquake. It displays, in the huge stairwell, a mural (400 m2 or 4300 sq ft) by Orozco depicting a portrait of Father Hidalgo. It houses, nowadays, the government of the state of Jalisco.

     Right picture : palace of government

By the side, the Museo de Cera presents about 120 different personages made in wax (located avenue Morelos # 217, open daily 11 AM-8 PM, MXN$60).

There is a succession of plazas and walking areas behind the Cathedral. The first one is the Plaza de la Liberación, with a monument in the middle dedicated to the revolutionary Father Hidalgo and two colonial fountains.
It was also called the Plaza de los Tres Poderes (place of the three powers), because of its proximity with the Court Hall, the Palace of Governor and the Legislative Palace. The Court hall is part of the convent of Santa Maria de Gracia, with the church of the same name by the side. It dates from 1661; it is topped with an oval dome and has a neo-classical style inside.

The Teatro Degollado, a place of Mexican culture, occupies the other side of the plaza. It is of classical style, very adorned. Emperor Maximilian ordered it built in 1866. It is worth it to have a look inside or to attend a representation of the Grupo Folklórico, Sunday morning from 10 AM.
Inspired from the Theater of the Scala in Milan, it is built in a neoclassical style with a strong Italian influence. The ceiling of its concert room displays a very nice fresco depicting one of the hymns of the Divine Comedy of Dante.
By the side, the church of San Augustin, one of the oldest churches of the city built in 1573, has a very unusual sacristy.

Fresco by Orozco Keep walking looking alternatively at colonial and modern constructions as well as many fountains and monuments. Stop at Plaza Tapatia where the splendid Hospicio Cabañas stands, called nowadays Instituto Cultural Cabañas, (open 10:15 AM-5:30 PM, Tue-Sat and 10:15 AM-2:30 PM, Sun). Built as an orphanage in 1805 by Manuel Tolsá, it is nowadays the Cultural Institute Cabañas. The place is always lively, inside or outside.
This huge building contains more than twenty indoor patios linked by corridors. The ceiling of the chapel displays the fresco Man of fire, painted in 1938 by the famous “muralist” José Clemente Orozco. Around these patios, there are show rooms, classrooms, a theater and the famous Chapel Mayor (Capilla Mayor), also called "Clementina" due to the 53 frescoes by Orozco.
Benches allow you to admire the frescoes of the ceiling.

      Picture above : Fresco by Orozco

The grand muralist José Orozco is one of the most famous sons of the region. He was born in Zapotlán, small village in the surroundings of Guadalajara. He spent the most part of his learning time in this city. The house and workshop of the artist were converted into a museum, the Museo Clemente Orozco. It shows the house the way it was when the artist lived there and it displays more than 80 artworks (it is located avenue Aurelio Aceves # 27, open 10 AM-4 PM, Mon-Fri, free admission).

Instituto Cultural Cabañas The year 2008 is dedicated to the painter Clemente Orozco (declaration of the President Calderón in January 2008).

If you had only one place to visit in Guadalajara, pick without any doubt the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, the most impressing monument of the city. Built to shelter the orphans of the city, this wonderful neoclassical building was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO in 1997 :

      Right picture : Instituto Cultural Cabañas

South of the Plaza Tapatia, is the Mercado Libertad. It is a modern three stories building called also Mercado de San Juan de Dios. It is said to be the biggest municipal market in the country, and it is probably true if you look at the huge size of each department. On the first floor, there is a huge hall with only leather articles and the space of the second floor is shared by small restaurants. There are a total of about 1000 stalls !


  Mariachi Sol de Mexico (Mi Jalisco)

A walking bridge links the market to the church San Juan de Dios.

Just behind the church, on Plaza de los Mariachis, bands of mariachis, dressed with the traditional embroidered costume of the charros, sing their serenades, at the request of the people, sitting on the terraces. The sunset starts the beginning of the festivities on this place, very lively and busy by night. It is worth the trip for the predominant friendly atmosphere.

There are several museums downtown : the Casa Museo Lopez Portillo (Liceo 177 and San Felipe, just north of the Regional Museum; open10 AM-6 PM, Tue-Sat and 10 AM-5 PM. Sun, free admission) is a mansion from the nineteen century with furniture of the family of a previous President. Much European style furniture from the eighteenth-twentieth century is on display there.

temple ExpiatorioIn Zona Minerva or Zona Rosa, located west of the city, there is the Museo de las Artes, located at avenue Juarez # 975, in the campus. It displays permanent and temporary collections of Contemporary Art (open 10 AM-6 PM, Tue-Sat and noon-6 PM, Sun; free admission). Just behind it, the Temple Expiatorio is supposed to be an exact copy of the cathedral of Orvieto in Italy.
Built in 1920, the University of Guadalajara contains splendid murals by Orozco that illustrate a text of Dante. One shows diabolic creatures leading credulous people to Hell. It is a brilliant and abrasive work showing how the painter flayed the social order.

     Right picture : temple Expiatorio

A little further north, the Museum of the City of Guadalajara, (open 10 AM-4 PM, Tue-Fri, 10 AM-5:30 PM, Sat and 10 AM-2:30 PM, Sun, MXN$ 6), located at Calle Independencia # 684, has nice rooms around a patio displaying crafts and documents about the development of the city from the Pre-Hispanic time to the twentieth century.
Downtown possesses several churches with character : the church of Santa Monica (Santa Monica # 250 and San Felipe) is considered the most beautiful church of the city. A double portico, adorned with Solomonic columns, embellishes the baroque facade. The sculptures of the windows are exquisite. Three blocks west stands the church of San Felipe Neri, imposing baroque church with a noteworthy carved gate and topped with well-proportioned tower bell and dome. Charming mansions from the nineteenth century, with nice flowered patios, surround the church.

Six blocks south from the Plaza de Armas, on Plaza San Francisco, stand two wonderful religious buildings : The Templo San Francisco (16 de Septiembre # 289 and Prisciliano Sanchez) and the small Chapel of Nuestra Señora de Aranzazú. They are the only vestiges of a Franciscan monastery founded in the sixteenth century but rebuilt in the seventeenth century. Note the typically Mexican motif of the eagle perched on a fig tree. It is the only church in Jalisco to possess churrigueresque altars lavishly and finely worked with gold.

A little further south, via the Calzada Independencia, the huge Parque Agua Azul contains an aviary and an orchid house with a collection of butterflies. It is a pleasant place to avoid the noises of the city.
At the north of the park, the Casa de las Artesanías of Jalisco is an excellent address to discover the crafts produced in Jalisco.
Close by, the Lienzo Charro de Jalisco is a popular spot for families on Sunday noon to enjoy the most "tapatio" (from Guadalajara) tradition, the picturesque charreada (Mexican rodeo).

Map of the capital and its suburbs :

Historical Center of Guadalajara city :

Map of state :

History of the state of Jalisco : &

Information about the capital :

Guadalajara and Zapopan
Little tour in Guadalajara and its suburbs.

Having fun with Mexican Charros

The Mexican rodeo or charrería is the opportunity to colorful shows that are truly sport events. The horse rider, dressed with the costume of the "charros", needs to demonstrate its skills by catching a bull or a horse with a lasso and ending with the "paseo de la muerte", meaning he has to switch mounts.

The "festival del Mariachi y la Charrería" of Guadalajara (every year at the end of august) attests of the importance of this sport, even if the media gives it less publicity than soccer.


Superbe video about "Los Charros mexicanos"

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