The Rich, Colonial style

February 1, 2013

The modern wealthy are not the only ones who spend lavishly and spend money like it's on fire? Don't bet on it! Way back in the late 1500s, silver was found in the hills surrounding the city of Guanajuato in central Mexico, and for over a quarter of a millennium the area produced more than 30% of the silver in the entire world! As you can imagine, it led to a few excesses in the local town. Flush with more money than they knew what to do with, the local gentry spent extravagantly, commissioning extravagant churches like the La Valenciana Church (named after the silver mine and paid for by the mine's owner) and the Las Basilica (complete with jewel-encrusted statue of the Virgin). You can also tour parts of the silver mine itself, a still-functional mine, hauling out tons of rock each day. Or if more recent history or artistic heritage is your pleasure, arrange an escorted tour through the museum of Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's most famous artists, and a hometown hero in Guanajuato. Or you can combine all of this with a walking or driving tour around the city's narrow streets, alleys, and stairways (reminiscent of a hilly European village), past tile-roofed buildings with expansive balconies, softly colored painted walls, and classic colonial-style architecture. A haven for art and literature, and home to a vibrant slice of Mexico's historic heritage, Guanajuato is not to be missed.

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