The beautiful beaches of Mexico are fabulous places to enjoy a vacation, but there is another side of Mexico to explore; it's historic Colonial Cities. With their cobblestone streets, colorful fiestas, plazas and parks with flowering gardens, and cathedrals, many of these cities and towns look and feel just as the Spanish left them two hundred years ago. You will find that each place has its own personality, culture, arts and crafts, and architecture, with some monuments and cities declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
To get a good taste of the Colonial Cities, I recommend taking a tour, an example of which I describe here.
This tour begins in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. Founded in 1542 by Spanish conquistadors, Guadalajara sits on a plateau more than 5,000 feet above sea level. While there you can visit the city's most famous landmark, the Metropolitan Cathedral. This massive church, which took over 100 years to complete, has 65 meter high yellow tiled twin steeples resembling inverted Calla Lilies and is an example of baroque, Gothic, Moorish and neoclassical architectural styles. You can also visit Parque Agua Azul a huge park that is divided into two parts and connected by a bridge. It has large open green areas, a butterfly house, an orchid house, a birdhouse and an outdoor auditorium that features music and cultural shows. Local musicians perform in an area of the park known as "Musicians Boulevard". In Guadalajara you can shop in the Libertad Market, said to be the biggest market under one roof in all of Mexico. Inside you'll find hundreds of stalls selling Mexican handicrafts, food, leather goods, and just about anything Mexican you can think of.
The next stop on our tour is Guanajuato. The city was formally founded by the Spanish in 1570 and owes its fame and fortune to the rich veins of silver and gold, which were discovered there. In Guanajuato you can visit Callejon del Beso (Alley of the Kiss). Famous for its legend of eternal love, it is formed by two balconies just 23 inches apart. At the Alhondiga de Granaditas you can visit the scene of one of Mexico's most courageous acts of war by Independence hero "EL Pipila". It is now a museum. You can also visit the Juarez Theater, one of the most beautiful in Mexico, boasting a variety of architectural styles. The fašade is Doric-Roman, the lobby is French and the inside is Moorish.
Due to the dry air and rich soil in Guanajuato, it was discovered that it is possible for a corpse to be mummified in only five years. At the Mummy Museum mummies from the 1800's can be seen for those who dare!
In the city of San Miguel De Allende you can walk and shop along its cobblestone streets and see Spanish colonial mansions, many of which have been restored to their original splendor. The city which was founded in 1542 by Fr. Juan de San Miguel is a protected national monument in that all new construction must conform to the existing colonial style.
The last stop on our tour is Mexico City, the ancient capital of the Mexican empire. Today Mexico City is a large, cosmopolitan city. One of the many highlights of the city is the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum's twenty-six exhibit halls feature Mexico's thirty centuries of cultural evolution.
Mexico has much to offer whether you wish to travel back in time to its colonial days or stay right here in 2006!
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. For all your travels call her at 772-567-8481 or 800-795-1986. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.