Hola from tropical Mexico, where the temperatures are in the 70′s and rainy season is now upon us. Flowers are in bloom everywhere and the mountains are bright green, with water flowing everywhere. We have just been sitting back and enjoying the rain showers and not been doing any traveling, so I have shelved my blog for the past 45 days.
This past weekend we went to Guadalajara to visit the historic area, so I have a reason to blog and some interesting pictures to share, compliments of my husband the photographer.
Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico, with a population of 4.4 million in the metro area. It is the capital of the state of Jalisco and was founded more than 460 years ago on Valentine’s Day. This city is also known as the “City of Roses” and is the sister city to Portland, Oregon.
Guadalajara is yet another Mexican city rich with history and culture. In the heart of the historic district is the famous Plaza Tapatia, a huge pedestrian walkway that stretches for several blocks and includes statues, fountains and many interesting shops and buildings.
We were given the name of a lovely hotel in the historic district by some friends of ours and it proved to be very nice and within walking distance of the entire historic section of Guad. Hotel Morales was built in the 19th century and became known as the bullfighters’ hotel, as many celebrity bullfighters stayed here.
Our first day we had a great lunch at La Chata, which served typical Mexican fare. We enjoyed chicken mole, chili relleno and limonada mineral (limeade made with mineral water). It is a very popular place with the locals, as there never seemed to be less than 25 people waiting in line at any given time of day. After being fortified with a lovely comida, we headed out to see the sights.
Our first stop was to the Palacio de Gobierno, the Governor’s Palace.
The Palacio de Gobierno was built in 1774, with striking colonial architecture and murals painted by José Clemente Orozco.
A huge mural of Hidalgo (a father of the Mexican Independence movement) is depicted on the ceiling immediately upon entering the building.
Entering the stairway to the second floor, this multi-colored mural, also painted by José Clemente Orozco, reflects a violent scene dominated by Nazi symbolism.
The Catedral Metropolitana, Guadalajara’s majestic cathedral, was first constructed in 1541. It was very primitive, built with adobe and had a thatched roof. A fire severely damaged the building in 1574 and the new cathedral was finally completed in 1618. In 1818, an earthquake shook the city, bringing down the twin steeples and dome. These were replaced but the new structures were destroyed by a subsequent earthquake in 1849. The steeples and dome were once again reconstructed and completed in 1854. Since this time there have been several earthquakes that have caused additional damage to the cathedral. The cathedral houses the remains of several cardinals and former bishops, as well as the heart of a former Mexican president.
Near the Guadalajara Cathedral stands the Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres, The Rotunda of Illustrious Jalisco men and women. Underneath this elegant structure lie 98 urns of some of the more illustrious men and women of Guadalajara, one of which is José Clemente Orozco. The categories of those honored here include architects, educators, humanitarians, composers, painters and writers. This structure was erected in 1952 and is lined with 17 columns.
The construction of Teatro Degollado, located at the far end of La Plaza de Dos Copas (Two Cups Plaza), named for the two fountains found here, began in 1856 and opened in 1866 with a performance of the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. In 1966, famed tenor Placido Domingo performed the same opera here. This structure seats 1015 people.
Within the Two Cups Plaza is another notable statue of Hidalgo, breaking the chains of slavery. Everywhere you look, in almost all towns and cities in Mexico, there is some reference to this revered man, whether it be a statue, a mural, or the naming of a street.
One of the oldest churches in Guadalajara, Templo de San Augustin, simply built in the Barroque style, was dedicated in 1573 and was once part of a convent. It has been rebuilt several times but the sacristy remains the original. The Guadalajara School of Music now houses part of this structure. Unfortunately, this building was not open to the public.
In the center of the city, on Hidalgo Avenue, sits the Templo de La Merced, another Baroque-style church with a beautiful door arch and lovely tiled dome. The construction of this temple began in 1650 and was not completed until 1721. The main altar is home to sculptures of the Madonna and child. There was a wedding taking place the night we stopped by this structure.
The morning of our second day in Guad, we ventured out in search of breakfast and came across Chai, which featured great omelets and coffee, in a very relaxed setting. We liked this restaurant so much that we visited it the next morning as well.
Since Terry and I had lived in Sedona and always admired the architecture of a well-known upscale shopping area named Tlaquepaque, we decided to visit this suburb of Guadalajara featuring the same name. We were told this is the place to go for interesting shopping, plus there are always a few beautiful churches to visit as well.
Tlaquepaque is a suburb of 560,000 people and is the largest pottery village in Mexico. The name is that of Nahuatl, meaning “place above clay land”. It is reknown for its pottery and blown glass. The creative spirit of the people who reside here has earned the city the title of “A Town of Magic”.
Two noteworthy churches surround El Jardin Hidalgo, the main plaza in town. The first is Santuario de Nuestra Senora de La Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude Sanctuary). This church was built in 1878, in the Neoclassic Byzantine style and has a stunning dome featuring 16 windows.
The second church, Parroquia de San Pedro Apóstol, also borders the main plaza. It was founded by Franciscan monks during the Spanish conquest and its Baroque styling has undergone many changes over the years. Construction began in 1670 and was finally completed in 1813. The altars of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are carved in silver and gold.
The place to visit for upscale shopping in Tlaquepaque is El Parián, a large plaza flanked by restaurants, statues, and alluring shops.
One of the more prominent statues of Hidalgo, in my opinion, was in the center of El Parián, depicting him leading the locals in their fight for independence.
One of my all-time favorite artists in my short time in Mexico has been Sergio Bustamonte, who I was first introduced to on the malecon in Puerto Vallarta. I cannot say why I am so drawn to his work, perhaps because of the unusual nature of it.
Much to my delight, a Sergio Bustamonte gallery beckoned me! Displays of the most exotic silver jewelry and stunning handbags were showcased. For some reason I could not justify the $550 price tag on the handbags and Terry thought he “dodged a bullet” by getting me out of the gallery without shelling out money for jewelry. I reminded him, however, that I can easily go online and purchase his jewelry, so I don’t have to be in Tlaquepaque to do so. I think I might have made him a tad bit nervous!
Below are some of the unusual pieces of art displayed in this amazing gallery.
After lunch we stopped in a glass shop. Here is just one example of a stunning blown glass chandelier.
From here we headed back to Guadalajara to wrap up our trip.
Even if you don’t like to shop, a stop at Mercado Libertad (Liberty Market), Latin America’s largest indoor market, is worth your time. With over 1000 vendors spanning three floors, one can be kept occupied for a good long time. Anything you can imagine is sold here, from clothing, jewelry, leather goods, fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as internal organs and heads and feet of various animals in the butcher aisle (not my favorite section of the market, I must say).
Countless food stalls assault the senses as we passed by but we had recently eaten so we opted for a jugo verde (green juice) instead, made from fresh parsley, celery, nopal, pineapple and grapefruit juice. Yum!
If you are planning a trip to Guadalajara, the historic section of this vibrant city is a must see!