10 things to do in Zacatecas: http://www.igougo.com/attractions-l4109-c11-Zacatecas_Attractions.html


1.  La Quemada

September 14, 2007

Rated 5 of 5 by María Dolores Bolívar from San Diego, California

La Quemada

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Believed to be the mythic place where Aztecs remained 9 years previously to entering the Valle de México (today Mexico City). All there is for us to research, today, is a group of columns, an observatory and a few other buildings made of stone, suggesting the existence of a much larger city. Known as "the door of civilization", La Quemada is named "the Burnt place" as it is believed it actually burnt around the year 1100. A wall, four meters high and four meters wide, stands as evidence of a Citadel, or a Refuge that could have been home to the last Teotihuacans.

When Spaniards set foot in the region, people living in the area were Caxcanes and Chichimecas. It is believed "chichimeca" translates into "uncivilized", a name congruent with the legend naming La Quemada "the door of civilization". Had Caxcanes and Chichimecas resisted the presence of either Teotihuacanos or Aztecas, the wall, the citadel, the monumental nature of the place, seems partially explained.

Have you been to Montezuma's Castle and Well in Arizona, located between Flagstaff and Phoenix at Camp Verde? This may just be another piece of that same puzzle or toozigoot (variegated way). One day, I would love to undertake the trip, by foot, from Camp Verde to La Quemada. It would be a nice way to sense the experience of migration, South bound.

2.  La Bufa

September 14, 2007

Rated 5 of 5 by María Dolores Bolívar from San Diego, California

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At 2,700 meters, La Bufa is a vantage point, a place from which you can enjoy the sight of one of the most fascinating cities. Zacatecas represents a time of wealth and dreams. It stood as the point from which the Spaniards started their expansion to the North.

La Iglesia del Patrocinio is not like the city's cathedral; instead, it is small, simple, and peaceful.

Cerro de la Bufa and town at night. Zacatecas, Mexico (color)

Take el Teleferico from Bosque y Rojas for 24 pesos p/p or walk or taxi for 40 pesos from centre.

3.  Mercado Gonzalez Ortega

February 25, 2007

Rated 3 of 5 by Andariega from Boca de Tomatlan

Mercado Gonzalez Ortega

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The officials of Zacatecas decided the city market needed to be more dignified, something befitting such a beautiful and wealthy place. The Mercado Gonzalez Ortega was built in 1886, of cantera, the local pink stone, and beautifully detailed in cast iron. I have read that the style of building is Porfirian, or French neoclassic, but in a pamphlet distributed by the tourist office it is described as Zacatecan eclectic; I think this suites it best.

The market originally had three stories, but in 1901, the third story caught fire and was never replaced. The building functioned as the city market until 1982 when it was changed into the shopping center it is now, still called the Mercado Gonzalez Ortega.

On the ground floor, in what used to be a storage room for the market, is a wonderful restaurant, La Cantera Musical. It offers an assortment of Mexican food but specializes in dishes specific to Zacatecas. The food is tasty, the service attentive and the atmosphere comfortable and entertaining. We had eaten dinner here and decided to check out the stores above.

Upstairs is where all the stores are and is also where the ironwork is apparent. The painted ceilings are high, held up by iron pillars, and there are wrought iron and glass skylights. The building was still open even though, fortunately, the stores were all closed. We window shopped. Many stores carried a mishmash of things, mostly run of the mill Mexican crafts and clothing with quite a bit of jewelry, crosses, and rosary beads apparent. One of the larger stores, a wedding store, seemed to specialize in tacky bride and ultra tacky bride's maid dresses. Another store carried stuffed animals and school supplies. We saw nothing we would have wanted to buy even if we could have. Maybe the good stuff was not in view of the windows.

At the end of the building, under some hanging lamps, was an old buggy, where people were having a fun time having their pictures taken. We wandered closer but found no signs stating its history. I have no idea if the cart had some significance to the place, or if it was just a decoration.

Mercado Gonzalez Ortega is located on Hidalgo and also on Tacuba. To get to the shopping area you approach from Hidalgo. To get to the restaurants below you come in from Tacuba. It is open daily from 10am to 9pm although apparently the stores sometimes close earlier.

 4.  The Cathedral

February 25, 2007

Rated 5 of 5 by Andariega from Boca de Tomatlan


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Started in 1729, on the ruins of a church from the 16th century, the Zacatecas Cathedral was dedicated in 1752, consecrated in 1862 but not finished until 1904. Sometimes described as churrigueresque, other times as neoplateresque, but usually as Mexican baroque - the apex, the epitome, the finest, the culmination, the ultimate expression of Mexican baroque. I have heard all of these words to describe it and they are right. It is an awe inspiring example of Mexican baroque.

Nuestra Señora de Asunción, the Cathedral/Basilica of Zacatecas, is built of cantera, a local pink stone, that is intricately carved with the usual European religious images and also with images important to the indigenous peoples. The principal facade, the most elaborately carved, is dedicated to the Eucharist. There are a statues of eight apostles and of Christ. The columns and all spaces not filled by the statues are covered in carvings of pearls, grapes, cherubs, angels, clouds, vines, fruits, vegetables, feathers, shells, and other things peeking out from behind the carved foliage. The central rose window, if possible, seems even more intricately carved. The northern facade is dedicated to Christ and the southern to the town patron, Nuestra Señora de los Zacatecos. Both are also fantastically carved. The inside of the church is very plain as are most churches in Mexico. Many of its former riches and adornment stolen during the fight for independence and the revolution.

We visited in the late afternoon as the sun was descending rapidly. The change in colors on the main facade was amazing, from a bright but pale pink to a golden glowing red, all in a matter of half an hour. I couldn't get far enough away to take a picture of the whole church, or even half of it, but my zoom lens came in handy for making out the details. I recommend taking binoculars. On this trip we did not go inside; we had not brought appropriate clothing. The interior is worth a quick look but shorts and sleeveless shirts are not acceptable. I was also barefoot; I am sure I would have been struck by lightening.

The cathedral is located on the south side of the Plaza de Armas and is open daily from 6am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 9pm. The telephone number is 922-0490. There is no charge to enter but donations are appreciated. Give yourself at least a half hour to see the outside of the church. I have spent a couple of hours just staring at the same wall.


5.  Mina El Eden (The Eden Mine)

There are two main entrances to the Eden Mine. This photo is the one accessible from Del Grillo street.

Admission is just 30 pesos for adults, with a discount for seniors.

I'm originally a mining engineer so being in a mine is no problem for me. But even for those who are a bit timid about entering a mine, this one isn't too bad. It's well lit, clean, with no rats or other strange creatures!

The entire tour takes about 30 minutes.