This World Heritage Site greets us with its pink stone face and its silver heart
Zacatecas, a city in North-Central Mexico, is the capital of the state of Zacatecas. Both domestic and foreign visitors come here to enjoy its charming streets, winding alleys, and beautiful buildings with pink stone facades. Because of this stone and the large amount of silver extracted from its mines, Zacatecas is known as the city “with the stone face and the silver heart.”
Since its origins as a mining camp in the sixteenth century, Zacatecas has been valued for rich silver deposits and other minerals. On January 20, 1548, pioneering prospector Juan de Tolosa founded the city with Diego de Ibarra, Cristóbal de Oñate, and Baltasar Temiño de Bañuelos.
One of the world’s largest silver mines, Fresnillo, Zacatecas, is only about 30 miles from Zacatecas. Also close by is the village of Plateros. Many make pilgrimages to Plateros at Christmas to bring toys to the Santo Niño de Atocho, a symbol of Zacatecas and the protector of miners.
Some mines have been adapted for tours, including El Edén, a mine that is part of the Zacatecas below-the-surface to the sky circuit. The tour offers a cable car ride to the legendary Cerro de La Bufa, where visitors can admire the rock formations, mineral colors, and underground machinery.
With a mix of curves and straight lines, the city center architecture is distinctive. Its avenues are punctuated by alleys boasting their own legends. The Callejón del Indio Triste (Alley of the Sad Indian) tells the story of the obsessive love of Xólotl, Lord of Pánuco, for Xúchitl, the last Chichemec Princess. Other notable Zacatecas alleys are Mantequilla, Gallos, Merceditas, San Francisco, Santero, Mono Prieto, Tenorio, and Resbalón.
The Cathedral, with Baroque filigree, is a must-see, as are the Art Nouveau and Neoclassical buildings, panoramic view from the classic cable cars, and art museums with collections from the Viceroyalty period and twentieth century paintings. The callejoneadas, tours where visitors stroll along the streets to the beat of estudiantinas (wandering minstrels), are also enjoyable.
Hotels in Zacatecas range from the authentic Hostel del Vasco, the Hotel Emporio with a pink facade, the sprawling Meson de Jobito, to the unique Quinta Real Zacatecas — to name a few.
The name Zacatecas comes from the Nahuatl language and means “the place where the zacate grass is plentiful.” As a result of its natural beauty and architectural value, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Zacatecas tourism is a growing industry.
- Traditions and Festivities
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