We were excited to start exploring Guadalajara after our party trip to Puerto Vallarta. After a long restorative sleep we donned our comfy shoes, grabbed the “big”camera, had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and hit the streets armed with our map of the not-to-be-missed historical sites of this lovely old city, famous as the home of tequila, mariachi and rodeo.
Named after the birthplace of it's founder Nuño de Guzmán in 1532, the current location was settled in 1541 after various previous sites were abandoned for lack of water, dry infertile land and hostile indigenous people. A particularly tyrannical Spanish administrator, Nuño had been sent to Mexico (then known as New Spain) to rein in the Conquistador Hernán Cortés, who had got a little too big for his boots according to Charles V, the King. In addition to knocking Cortés off his pedestal, Nuño established a slave trade of natives into the Caribbean and back to Spain. Those that remained lived a life of torture and abuse as they constructed the incredible buildings of historical Guadalajara that still stand today.
Lest this turn into a thesis on the early Colonial era of Mexico, I'll (try to) forgo the history lesson and resort to pictures of the beautiful things we saw.
Guadalajara Cathedral, or more correctly Catedral Basílica de la Asunción de María Santísima was originally built in 1541 of adobe and thatch. In 1574 it burned down and a new one was begun but wasn't finished until 1618. The towers and dome collapsed in an earthquake in 1818, were rebuilt and collapsed again in another earthquake in 1849. There have been many subsequent earthquakes that have destablised the building. In the crypt are the remains of 3 Cardinals, a few Bishops and a Priest, along with Santa Innocencia, a mummified young girl killed by her father for converting to Catholicism.
The Palacio de Gobernio was built in the late 1700's and was home to the governers of New Galicia (the present day State of Jalisco) in the Colonial era. Miguel Hidalgo, the leader of the War of Independence, abolished slavery in 1810, and the signing of this law was sealed in the Palace. President Benito Juarez made it the official seat of the Federal government during the reform war of 1858 (and he dodged an assassination attempt here too). Today the building is open to the public and houses various government offices. There are two murals painted by José Clemente Orozco of Miguel Hidalgo here also.
Templo San Juan de Dios was begun in 1726 and completed in 1750. The first hospital in Guadalajara was on this site and some of that building has been incorporated into this (see the shorter part on the left?). There wasn't much happening in the Plaza de los Mariachis next to the church, I think we only saw one lonely mariachi. Mariachi bands are found everywhere in Mexico, but the music style originally evolved from Spanish and indigenous music and instruments in the 1800's in the area around Guadalajara.
We took a tour to Tlaquepaque, a pretty city which has been inhabited since pre-hispanic times. A centre now for local artisans and famous for it's pottery and glass, we had a lovely day wandering the streets enjoying the colonial architecture, restaurants, art and coffee!
The Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazú was built in 1749 and dedicated to Our Lady of Aranzazú (an alternate name for the Virgin Mary). It was part of a complex of convents, monasteries, cemeteries and orchards of the Franciscan Order. It's decorated in an over the top Baroque style called Churriguesque, which we've seen in various churches in our travels.The Templo de Francisco de Asis (Francis of Assisi) is just a few steps away but was closed for renovations.
Today, Guadalajara is the second largest city after Mexico City and is a thriving metropolis for industries such as electronics, software, cosmetics, furniture and let's not forget the most important one...tequila! Locals here are known as Tapatíos and they take their tequila seriously, never sullied by salt or lime as we somehow think it's supposed to be consumed.
And what of Nuño de Guzmán, Conquistador and founder of Guadalajara?
His biographer characterized him as a man of "cruelty of the highest order, ambition without limit, a refined hypocrisy, great immorality, ingratitude without equal, and a fierce hatred for Cortés". Obviously not one to make winning friends and influencing people a priority, he alienated his contemporaries and the all powerful churchmen and when news of his terrible mistreatment of the indigenous people reached Spain he was charged with treason, abuse of power and cruelty. He was shackled, jailed and eventually sent back to Spain. He was released from prison after only two years and spent the remainder of his life in poverty, dying around 1558. Seems he got off lightly for all his inhumanity.
While our trip was short and we saw many wondrous things, with 22 museums, countless churches and about 180 of the 220 of Mexico's tequila distilleries yet to be explored, I think a trip back is definitely on the land travel list!
A quick flight had us back in La Paz in time for sunset and dinner. We had sailing plans and were looking forward to untying the lines and getting off the dock for a while.
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