Location: Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico
Visited: August, 2009
Opinion and Background:
Towards foreigners, Mexicans seem united in their love for their country. However, amongst themselves, distinct (but friendly) battle lines are drawn showing off specific city pride, with everyone claiming that their city is the most beautiful and unique in Mexico. While its easy to brush this off as typical over aggrandizement of one’s hometown, it is actually quite remarkable how different Mexican cities can look compared to each other, and for once, the hype is justified.
Zacatecas is a pace setter when it comes to city pride. Zacatecans I met before actually visiting this city went on and on about how pretty their hometown is. They were right. Zacatecas is almost 500 years old and still maintains a certain vintage charm, preserving its Spanish, colonial roots. Zacatecas’ cathedral in the center of the city is gorgeous inside and out. It’s facade is very finely carved with immense detail. The old silver mines offer tours deep within the mountain, and they even turn into a (very structurally unsafe) nightclub at night. Even the alleys in the city have street signs carved in stone. It is this attention to detail that makes Zacatecas such a fantastic site to see.
Shortly after Hernán Cortéz’ quick route of the Aztec Empire, Spaniards started coming in droves in search for alleged gold and silver. They weren’t disappointed in Zacatecas were the silver veins were so rich, that up to 25% of all silver in the world has come from here. Zacatecas still exports silver to this day and is the main souvenir Mexicans and foreigners alike shop for when they come to this city.
1) Completeness and Originality (12/15): There is still work to be done, but the preservation efforts of the city has helped keep it beautiful.
2) Extensiveness of the Site (8/15): It’s a whole city that could take a few days to see it all. However, the actual sites to see can be done in a few hours.
3) Cultural Significance (16/25): For local significance, it is a city frozen in time at an era where the ruling natives were being pushed out by invaders of the old world. It also holds world wide ramifications as the silver found in Mexico helped spark the silver trade to China. Essentially, it made the world come full circle.
4) Personal Impact (7/15): The are awesome views all throughout the city. However, there is no “it” moment. In most places I’ve been to, there is an exact moment, something you see or experience which makes the trip worth it. While Zacatecas is awesome all around, it didn’t have that “it” moment for me.
5) Logistics (8/10): The city was fairly easy to navigate for me. However this score is a bit skewed for two reasons. First, my uncle drove us there and took care of booking a hotel, so I really didn’t do anything. Second, I speak Spanish, so I didn’t find out whether or not the locals could guide international visitors.
6) Uniqueness (12/20): While it doesn’t look like other city in Mexico, there are plenty colonial towns in the country.
Combined Score: 63/100
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Related Articles / Useful Links on other Sites:
1) Mexconnect (another guide into Zacatecas)
2) Zacatecas Wikitravel (up to date info on travel to Zacatecas)
5) Unesco Entry