the 1960s, 20th-century architecture started to threaten
Guadalajara's historical integrity. In the early 1980s the
city declared the 30-square-block downtown area a cultural
sanctuary, and in the late 1990s a private trust was formed
to care for el Centro (city center). Here, large Spanish-style
plazas, where you'll stroll past vendors and marble fountains,
connect the 16th-century buildings. At nearby Plaza de los
Mariachis, nostalgic songs fill the air.
In addition to the city
center, most tourist sights and large hotels are located
in three other areas: near Avenida Chapultepec, near the
Minerva Fountain and Los Arcos monument, and in the Plaza
del Sol shopping area southwest of downtown. Here's a list
of the very best things to see and do.
De Oblatos: A spectacular 2,000-ft-deep gorge, Oblatos
Canyon also has hiking trails and the narrow Cola de Caballo
waterfall, named for its horsetail shape. For the best view,
go to the lookout area, or Parque Mirador, at the top. 10
km (6 mi) northeast of downtown Guadalajara via Calzada
De La Virgen De Zapopan: This vast church, with an
ornate plateresque facade and mudéjar (Moorish) tiled
dome, was consecrated in 1730. It is known throughout Mexico
as the home of La Zapopanita, Our Lady of Zapopan. The 10-inch-high
statue is venerated as the source of many miracles in and
around Guadalajara. Every year on October 12, more than
a million people crowd the streets leading to Zapopan as
the Virgin is returned to the basilica after a five-month
absence, during which she visits every parish church in
the state. In the right side of the basilica is the Museo
Huichol (Avs. Avila Camacho and de las Américas),
a small gallery and shop featuring the exquisite handicrafts
of the Huichol Indians. It's open weekdays 9-1 and 4-7,
Saturday 9-1. The basilica is 7 km (4½ mi) west-northwest
López Portillo: Guadalajara's illustrious
López Portillo family included prominent writers
and politicians, such as an early 20th-century Jalisco governor
and his Mexico City-born grandson, José López
Portillo, president of Mexico from 1976 to 1982. As is typical
of homes built by Mexico's 19th-century upper class, the
plain stucco exterior belies the rich interior, where French
baroque-style rooms ring a spacious interior patio. Liceo
177, at San Felipe, Phone: 3/613-2411. Cost: Free. Weekdays
9-8:30, Sat. 9-1.
Consecrated in 1618, this focal point of downtown is an
intriguing mélange of Baroque, Gothic, and other
styles, the result of design and structural modifications
during its 57 years of construction. Ten of the silver-and-gilt
altars were gifts of King Fernando VII, in appreciation
of Guadalajara's financial support of Spain during the Napoleonic
Wars; the 11th, of sculpted white marble, was carved in
Italy in 1863. In a loft high above the main entrance is
a magnificent late-19th-century French organ, featured in
an organ festival usually held in May. Av. Alcalde between
Av. Hidalgo and Morelos. Daily 8-7.
De Nuestra Señora De Aranzazú: Don't
be fooled by Our Lady of Aranzazú's drab brown stone
exterior: inside is a spectacular Baroque gilt altar whose
14 niches contain life-size statues of saints. The walls'
and ceilings' intricate floral details are painted in bright
shades of turquoise, rose, and rust. The church is on the
west side of Parque San Francisco, a small green oasis that
draws food vendors, families, and senior citizens. Av. 16
de Septiembre and Prisciliano Sánchez. Phone: 3/614-4083.
Daily 10-2 and 4-7.
De San Agustín: The venerable St. Augustine
Church is one of the oldest churches in the city. It has
been remodeled many times since its consecration in 1574,
but the sacristy is preserved in its original form. The
building left of the church, originally an Augustinian cloister,
is now the Escuela de Música (School of Music) of
the University of Guadalajara. Free recitals and concerts
are held on its patio. Morelos at Av. Degollado. Phone:
3/614-5365. Daily 8-8.
Cultural Cabañas: This landmark neoclassical-style
cultural center, designed by the famous Spanish architect-sculptor
Manuel Tolsá, served as home for 400 orphans and
indigent children until the 1970s. The rooms, which surround
23 flower-filled patios, contain permanent and revolving
art exhibits. The central dome and walls of the main chapel
display a series of murals painted by José Clemente
Orozco, whose paintings, cartoons, and drawings are displayed
in Room 33. Ask the attendant at the front desk for an English-speaking
guide. Calle Cabañas 8, at Plaza Tapatía,
Phone: 3/617-4322 or 3/617-4440. COST: About $1; free Sun.
Tues.-Sat. 10:15-6, Sun. 10:15-3.
De Arqueología De Occidente De México:
The Archaeological Museum of Western Mexico houses pottery
and other artifacts used by ancient peoples of what are
now the states of Colima, Jalisco, and Nayarit. It's in
the street divider across from the entrance to Parque Agua
Azul. Calzada Independencia Sur and Av. del Campesino, Phone:
3619-0104. COST: $3. Mon.-Sun. 10-2 and 4-7.
De Cera: At this wax museum in the historic downtown
area across from Plaza de la Liberación visitors
can go eye-to-eye with Madonna, Mahatma Gandhi, beloved
Mexican comic Cantinflas, and a host of other political
and artistic luminaries. Visit the underground Aztec sacrificial
chamber, a hall of Mexican history, all of Mexico's presidents,
world leaders, and a chamber of horrors. A wax mariachi,
playing "Guadalajara Guadalajara," greets you
at the door. Morelos 217, Phone: 3/614-8487. COST: $1.50.
De La Ciudad De Guadalajara: In a series of rooms
surrounding the tranquil interior patio of this spacious
remodeled colonial home, you'll find informative artwork,
artifacts, and reproductions of documents about the city's
development from pre-Hispanic times through the 20th century.
Calle Independencia 684, between Contreras Medellín
and Mariano Bárcenas, Phone: 3/658-2531 or 3/658-3706.
COST: 30¢; free Sun. Wed.-Sat. 10-5:30, Sun. 10-2:30.
Museo De Las Artes De La Universidad De Guadalajara: The
University of Guadalajara's collection of 20th-century drawings
and paintings features modern Latin American, U.S., and
European works. The paraninfo -- a round theater in the
museum's center -- frequently hosts chamber music groups.
There is also a charming café. Behind the museum
on Avenida Lopez Cotilla, the Templo Expiatorio is a striking
Gothic church built at the turn of the last century and
modeled after the Orvieto Cathedral in Italy. Av. Juárez
at Av. Enrique Díaz de León, Phone: 3/825-6114
or 3/825-7553 ext. 66. COST: About $1; free Sun. Tues.-Sat.
10:30-6:30, Fri. till 8, Sun. 11-6.
Del Periodismo Y De Las Artes Gráficas: In
1792 Guadalajara's first printing press was set up on this
site, where today you can see displays of historic newspapers,
printing presses, recording equipment, and a complete television
studio. The building has long been known as the Casa de
los Perros because of the two wrought-iron dogs (perros)
"guarding" the roof. Av. Alcalde 225, Phone: 3/613-9286.
COST: About 50¢. Tues.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 10:30-3.
Regional De Guadalajara: This former seminary is
home to the Regional Museum, also known as the State Museum.
The first-floor galleries, which surround a garden courtyard,
contain artifacts and memorabilia that trace the history
of western Mexico; there are also revolving arts and crafts
exhibits. On the second-floor balcony are five 19th-century
carriages; the galleries offer an impressive collection
of paintings by European and Mexican artists and displays
about the history of Jalisco. Liceo 60, Phone: 3/614-9957.
COST: About $1.60; free Tues. Tues.-Sat. 9-6:45, Sun. 9-3.
De Gobierno: Built in 1643, this churrigueresque
and neoclassical structure houses Jalisco's state government
offices and two of José Clemente Orozco's most passionate
murals: one representing oppression and slavery, the other
reform. Av. Corona between Morelos and Pedro Moreno. Daily
Municipal: Guadalajara's city hall is a clever, colonial-style
fake: it was built in 1952 with an arched facade and interior
patio to fit in with neighboring buildings. Inside is a
colorful mural depicting the founding of the city. Av. Hidalgo
at Av. Alcalde. Daily 9-8.
Agua Azul: Amid acres of trees and flowers, this
popular park has carnival rides, tropical birds in cages,
an orchid house, and a geodesic dome covering a tropical
garden. The lively Museo Infantil (phone: no Phone) on the
southeast side of the park has hands-on displays on geography,
outer space, and natural history for kids. Next to the park
entrance, the small Teatro Experimental (Phone: 3/619-1176)
presents children's plays (including English-language classics
in translation), dramas, and chamber music performances
Calzada Independencia Sur and Av. del Campesino 973, Phone:
3/619-0328 or 3/619-0332. COST: 40¢. Tues.-Sun. 10-6:30.
Severo Díaz Galindo: A modern facility with
astronomy shows and aeronautical displays, the planetarium
also has exhibits that allow children to test the forces
and laws of nature. It's 6 km (4 mi) northeast of downtown.
Anillo Periférico Manuel Gomez Morin 401, east of
the Calzada Independencia, Phone: 3/674-4106 or 3/674-3978.
COST: Museum 20¢; astronomy show and movie 40¢.
De Los Mariachis: Experience the most Mexican of
music in this picturesque little plaza complete with cafés,
where strolling mariachi groups perform. Though the action
here lasts all night, it's best to visit during the day.
The plaza is next to the Iglesia de San Juan de Dios. Calzada
Independencia Sur between Av. Javier Mina and Alvaro Obregón.
COST: Mariachi serenade about $4 a song.
Degollado: This magnificent 1866 theater, modeled
after Milan's La Scala, has a relief depicting Apollo and
the nine Muses above the Corinthian columns gracing the
entrance way. The balconies ascend to a multi-tiered dome
adorned with Gerardo Suárez's depiction of Dante's
Divine Comedy. The theater is the permanent home for the
Jalisco Philharmonic and the Ballet Folklórico of
the University of Guadalajara and also hosts' concerts by
visiting orchestras, plays, and numerous other performances.
Guadalajara was allegedly founded on the site of what is
now the Plaza de los Fundadores, which flanks the east side
of the theater. A sculpted frieze on the rear wall of the
Teatro Degollado depicts the historic event. Calle Degollado
between Av. Hidalgo and Morelos, Phone: 3/614-4773 or 3/613-1115.
Mon.-Sat. 10-2 and during performances.
This quiet village with dusty, cobblestone streets and adobe
structures is home to more than 6,000 artisans. Locals create
the lovely pottery pieces, cobalt-blue glassware, and playful
animals with the same materials and techniques their ancestors
used. It's possible to tour home studios by contacting the
Tonalá municipal tourist office (3/683-1740) a day
before you plan to go. On Thursdays, merchandise is sold
at bargain prices at one of the best markets in all of Mexico
(avoid Sundays). Most stores are open Monday through Saturday
10-2 and 4-7, Sunday 10-2.
This charming town is known throughout Mexico for its intricate
blown-glass miniatures, exquisite pottery, and other hand-made
arts and crafts. More than 300 shops line pedestrian malls
and plazas. The distinctive decorated pottery was first
fashioned by nearby Tonaltecan Indians in the mid-16th century;
in 1870 the art of glass blowing was introduced from Europe.
Eventually, other artisans -- weavers, jewelers, and wood-carvers
-- arrived and built workshops. The pedestrian mall, Calle
Independencia, is home to many shops, as well as the Museo
Regional de Cerámica (No. 237). Typical store hours
are Monday through Saturday 10-2 and 4-7, and Sunday 10-2.
Guadalajara: The impressive Guadalajara Zoo has more
than 1,500 animals representing some 300 species; take the
50¢ guided train tour. The adjacent Selva Mágica,
or Magic Jungle amusement park, has carnival rides and attractions
for about $1.30. The complex is 6 km (nearly 4 mi) northeast
of downtown, near the planetarium. Paseo del Zoológico
600, Phone: 3/674-1034. COST: $1.80. Zoo Wed.-Sun. 9:30-6,
Selva Mágica Tues.-Sun. 10-7.