Guanajuato is another town founded as a result of silver mining and is in a valley even more steep-sided than that of Zacatecas. The city became wealthy in the 18th century and has the Baroque architecture to show for it.
I arrived during a three week cultural festival, as the girl who sold me a hot chocolate in Starbucks informed me (I’m sorry, I didn’t realise who I was patronising until I looked at the cup afterwards). I didn’t attend any concerts but I did see an awful lot of busking music groups in Elizabethan-ey costumes roaming the busy streets at night.
The narrow valley location means that many of the side streets are in fact steps and/or twisting alleys. Indeed, as I was poring over my barely visible photocopied map a Japanese lady passing by noted that it was useless and she always got lost (this was her fourth visit). Either by luck or, as I prefer to think, my superior sense of direction, I managed not to lose myself. Not even on the walk back down from a large statue sited up on one side of the valley, reached by a tiny funicular.
In the 18th century, the town suffered catastrophic floods from the river down the centre of the valley. To deal with it, they enclosed the water course in high walls and raised the surrounding roads and buildings. Lower lying structures were abandoned and built over. This included churches – you can visit the remains of the cloister of one monastery, underneath the later church. This has also left the place with an interesting network of low-lying and underground roads, augmented more recently by tunnels under the surrounding hills.
In one of the many churches I came across yet another gruesomely depicted figure of Jesus, this time tied to a pillar after being whipped so much his bones were on display. It had a descriptive museum style label which noted that the ribs on show were”probably human”.
Whilst there are prettier churches in town, I decided to go for the huge yellow basilica for my Lego model:
The left hand bell tower is not as great as it could be, whilst the right hand one has a massive structure behind it holding all the bits in place.
And in case you were wondering, no, I didn’t visit any mines.