Guanajuato, Mexico Introduction


  • La Alhóndiga de Granaditas
  • Plaza Alhóndiga
  • Mercado Hidalgo (Hidalgo Market)
  • Jardín de la Reforma (Garden of Reform)
  • Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera (Former San Gabriel de Barrera Estate)

Climb up the stairs from the appropriately named Plaza Alhóndiga - a performance venue during the Cervantino Festival - to the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, an imposing stone building sitting on the western edge of Guanajuato. Built between 1798 and 1808, the fortess-like Alhóndiga was intended to be a grain and seed storehouse. However, just two years later, due to increasing political and social turmoil, Spanish troops and loyalists barricaded themselves inside and made it became a military stronghold overnight.

That same year, La Alhóndiga became the site of the first major victory for Miguel Hidalgo and his rebel cohorts in the War of Mexican Independence when - thanks to local hero El Pípila - they managed to take over the building and the city. Later, it spent a century as a prison before being convertd into a regional museum and art gallery. Be sure to check out the picturesque central courtyard and the stunning murals - painted by Chávez Morado - depicting Guanajuato's history along the staircases.

Guanajuato-alhondiga from the top

Continue down Calle Mendizabal towards the Avenida Juárez where you will find the Mercado Hidalgo (Hidalgo Market), the city's impressive and atmospheric market. For over a century the pink stone building, which was originally intended to be a train station, has served as a bustling marketplace where you can peruse the stalls for fresh fruits, traditional handicrafts and everything in between.

Just across the street from the market you will stumble across the classical columns that welcome you into the Jardín de la Reforma, a picturesque square enclosed within brightly-colored façades. The plaza is the first in a trio of quiet retreats line dup practically one after the other; from the Jardín de la Reforma you can make your way through the Plaza San Roque and the Plazuela San Fernando.

Finally, continue along the Avenida Juárez - either on foot or via "Marfil" bus - to the Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, located 2 kilometers outside of downtown Guanajuato. Built towards the end of the 17th century, it was the most important of Guanajuato's many haciendas - or estates - and today is open to the public. It belonged to Captain Gabriel de Barrera, hence the name, whose upper-class family descended from one of Mexico's most prestigious families thanks to the La Valenciana mine.

The estate was divided into three parts: the home, the chapel with its beautiful 15th century altarpiece and the work area. The home has been completely furnished and decorated with European pieces of the time period, while the work area - where ore from the mine was once processed - is now comprised of 17 unique gardens brimming with pavilions, pools, footpaths and fountains. Since 1945, the gardens have provided one of the most beautiful retreats from Guanajuato's bustling city life.

Be sure to make a stop in the Ex-Hacienda's shop, where you can peruse all sorts of unique and hand-made traditional crafts!