Home to nearly five million inhabitants, the state of Guanajuato is located in central México. Capital city is Guanajuato. The north is mountainous, while the south is largely devoted to agriculture (corn maize, beans, barley, and wheat). The first Spanish settlement in Guanajuato was that of San Miguel de Allende in 1542. During colonial times, the capital city was an important silver-mining area. In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla began the Mexican war for independence and took the city of Guanajuato in the same year. The state was also home to a number of important battles during the Revolution of 1910, with Pancho Villa losing his chance to march to the capital at the Battle of Silao (if I remember correctly). Other important cities are León, Irapuato, Salamanca and Celaya. The region became a state in 1824.

The principal industry is mining (gold, tin, lead, mercury, copper, and opals, in addition to silver). Other industries include flour mills, tanneries and leather factories, cotton and woollen mills, distilleries, heavy industrial factories (General Motors) and foundries. The state is traversed by railroads and highways, with the four-lane highway from León to Irapuato considered a prime example of modernizing the Mexican transportation system.

Guanajuato city

Spanish colonial city founded in 1554 which became one of the three important silver-producing centers of the Spanish Empire during the 16th century (along with Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí. The mine called "La Valenciana" was particularly rich and helped produce the gold-filled church of the same name. The Alhondiga (a granary turned armory) was overtaken by independence forces led by Father Miguel Hidalgo in 1810. When Miguel Hidalgo was finally captured, his head was skewered on a pole and set in front of the Alhondiga for all to see. The Museum of the Mummies is famous for displaying well-preserved corpses that were dug up during the construction of underground streets (IIRC, I'd have to ask the relatives down south about that). The Cervantino Festival is an annual event occuring every October which celebrates the works of Miguel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote and many other tales. Many a party is to be found during the two weeks or so of the festival, and hotel rooms throughout the city are booked months in advance by just about every type of person imaginable. I have unfortunately not been able to experience the Cervantino, but hope to do so before I get too old.

Population: city (1990) = 73,108; (2000 estimate) = 77,000... state (1980) = 3,006,110; (1990) = 3,982,593; (2000 estimate) = 4,656,761.

Population provided by www.citypopulation.de

Guanajuato (approximately pronounced "Wa-na-hwa-to") is a beautiful town nestled in a valley in central México, and the capital of the eponymous Mexican state. It has a few claims to fame, such as how president Vicente Fox established a political foothold by being a relatively popular governor of Guanajuato state, his hometown. Guanajuato itself has in recent decades attracted international attention by its world famous Festival Internacional Cervantino, International Cervantine Festival, usually simply dubbed the Cervantino in both English and Spanish (but I'm stubborn about borrowings between languages I speak when I don't feel a need to borrow, so you'll hear me refer to the festival as the "Cervantine Festival" in English). The festival started out by staging a series of skits by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quixote, but has since evolved into a cultural and artistic festival that has very few performances anymore relevant to Cervantine literature.

But Guanajuato is much more than a festival. It is a town with a rich cultural and architectural history, with a large and active student population, with a strong international community of visitors from around the world who frequently decide to remain here out of romance for the town or its inhabitants. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988.

Guanajuato is... ah, well, let me start from the beginning.

History

Guanajuato started as a mining town when in 1558 large silver deposits were found in what became Mina de Rayas, named after Juan Rayas its discoverer, and later in La Valenciana, so named because it was founded and managed by a family from Valencia, Spain. The name Guanajuato comes from a native Mexican word transcribed as "Quanax-Huato" which means "froghill" or "frogplace". For this reason, frogs are still Guanajuato's symbol, though I have yet to see a real frog anywhere here. When Guanajuato was being founded, when there was a New Spain and before there was a México, the Spaniards decided to use the slave labour of the natives and build an empire out of silver, gold, iron, lead, zinc, tin, and other precious metals. For 250 years, 20% of the world's silver was produced in La Valenciana, and the silver deposits have still not been fully depleted, but through the vicissitudes of economics, the mine has not been exploited in recent years. Other lesser mines in Guanajuato were also discovered and some of them are still being mined. Mina de Rayas has a depth of 1400 feet, one of the largest in the world, and Mina de Cata is famous for the Baroque Catholic temple that decorates its entrance.

Guanajauto was officially founded in 1570, when it received the royal approval. Mining haciendas quickly flourished, economic centres comparable to U.S. plantations both in breadth and mode of operations, massively wealthy economic centres mostly driven by slave labour or later de facto slave labour, when its workers and miners were given wages but maintained in perpetual debt so as to ensure their permanence. Most people think of agricultural haciendas or plantations, but in Guanajuato city (a title which it was awarded in 1741 by King Philip V of Spain) the principal economic activity was mining, which is around what haciendas were built. Modern neighbourhoods of Guanajuato are often named after the hacienda that used to be there, such as San Javier, Bocamina San Ramón, Marfil (Ivory), and Santa Cecilia.

In 1765, King Charles III of Spain took a large chunk out of the wealthy mining barons of Guanajuato, and in 1767 discontent arose when the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish lands, since both the wealthy owners and the poor miners held allegiance to the Jesuits. This discontent with Spanish rule among the criollos (Creoles, but in this context means Mexican-born Spaniards who under the strict caste system imposed by Spanish rule did not hold the same rights as Iberian-born Spaniards) slowly focussed around conspiracies and secret meetings among the Mexican bourgeoisie. This finally erupted in the night of September 15, 1810 into the Mexican War for Independence. In Dolores, north of Guanajuato city and now named Dolores Hidalgo, Father Miguel Hidalgo gave the cry for independence and marched on towards Guanajuato with an undisciplined and unruly rabble of native Mexicans and mestizos, of mixed Mexican and Spanish blood. As always, it's the intellectuals who spur revolution and the lower classes who fight the wars.

The first major battle in the war for independence was fought in La Alhóndiga de las Granaditas, ("alhóndiga" is an old Spanish word of Arabic origin that means "the granary") which Mexican legend El Pípila managed to put to torch by carrying a large stone slab on his back to protect himself from the Spaniards' bullets. Today a famous monument in his honour stands atop a hill overlooking Guanajuato. La Alhóndiga changed hands a number of times during the decade-long bloody war for independence, alternatively serving as a granary, a fortress, a prison, and a torture centre. It still stands to this day and offers visitors a chance to learn about México's past.

After the war for independence, exploitation of Guanajuato's mines continued without Spanish taxation. During this period many structures were added to Guanajuato's rich architecture, such as mansions, theatres, and churches.

In the middle of the nineteenth century when the French intervened in México in an attempt to settle a dispute over debt and eager to perhaps annex Mexican soil to their waning empire, beloved Mexican president Benito Juárez and often compared to U.S. president Abraham Lincoln because of his humble origins, was forced to flee México City. He therefore temporarily established the nation's capital in Guanajuato city.

Mexican muralist and painter of the people Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato in 1886, but was unwelcome in his conservative Catholic hometown for many years because of his Marxist tendencies. Today his home is a museum hosting a small sample of his work. In 1903, Mexican president and dictator Porfirio Díaz embodied his admiration for French culture by commissioning the building of the Teatro Juárez (Juárez Theatre, an ironic name, since Díaz had been an enemy of Juárez, but probably had to recognise Juárez's popular appeal), the Palacio Legislativo (I don't need to translate that name, do I?), the Monumento a la Paz (Monument to peace), a monument to Hidalgo, and the Presa de la Esperanza (Dam of Hope).

In 1945 the Colegio del Estado, State College, became the University of Guanajuato, and Guanajuato's modern cultural environment began to flourish. The Entremeses Cervantinos (Cervantine Skits) were first staged in 1953, which culminated in the full-blown Cervantine Festival in 1972. Near the end of 1962, a group of music students from the university kindled an interest in estudiantina (uh, "studentine," I guess) music of Spanish origin, and on April 13, 1963, the first estudiantina made its debut. Music students from the university dress up in fifteenth-century Spanish student garb and play music appropriate to that time and genre with old Spanish instruments such as lutes and tambourines, all amidst joking, dancing, and skits, much of which involves audience participation. Today there are many different troupes of estudiantinas and daily two or three different troupes attract a crowd with their music and take them on the callejeonada (uh, another difficult word to translate, "alleying" I guess captures the meaning), around the twisty little back alleys of Guanajuato, often explaining in jest and in seriousness the local legends after which almost all of the alleys are named.

Guanajuato Today, Sights to See

Guanajuato is cramped little town difficult to navigate by car, but small enough to be traversed on foot from diametrically opposed ends in little more than one hour and thirty minutes (yes, I've timed it). Its smallness and old architecture add to its charm, and so do the underground tunnels which had to be built on old riverbeds in order to allow some vehicular traffic without destroying the old colonial layout of the town. A great deal of the town consists of very narrow alleys steeply built into the mountainous topography of Guanajuato that necessarily must be traversed on foot. They're great for building buns of steel, as well as stong thighs and a generally healthy cardiovascular system. When walking around Guanajuato, you may see some of the following.

Mines, mines, mines

There are many mines to see in Guanajuato, and they're a popular tourist attraction. Some of them are

  • Mina de la Valenciana
  • Mina de Rayas
  • Mina de Calderones
  • El Cedro (The Oak)
  • El Cubo (The Bucket? I think it means a kind of hole or depression in this context, as a mine is.)
  • Peregrina (Pilgrim)
  • Villalpando
  • La Garrapata (The Tick, as in a bloodsucking arachnid)

and there's lots more. Not all of them are still active, and some are already depleted, but I understand that Guanajuato still has a minerological richness waiting to be exploited. The more famous mines are Cata, Rayas, and Valenciana, all of which are usually open to the public. You'll often find eager tourist guides eager to make a buck around these mines, but I've personally had better luck avoiding the young ones and chatting instead with the old men who really were miners and often have an impressive knowledge of mining, geology, and minerology that they share quite freely just for the pleasure of having an audience. They might attempt to sell you quartz or other semiprecious rocks.

Churches, churches, churches

Guanajuato is traditionally a deeply religious and Catholic town, though some of this tradition is being chipped away by the young generation and foreign influences (I have seen Mormons walking in the alleys and wearing their traditional missionary outfit: short-sleeved white shirt with tie, dark pants, and a schoolbag). But since tradition is easier to chip away than churches are, a good deal many churches still exist in Guanajuato. Most of them are lavishly decorated and the Baroque style predominates. Here is another list.

  • Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato)
  • Templo de San Diego
  • Templo de San Cayetano
  • Templo de San Javier
  • Templo de San José Santiago
  • Templo de San Roque

and many more. The one worth checking out is probably San Cayetano, which was built with money from La Valenciana and lies near it.

Mummies, mummies, mummies

Actually, unlike all the churches and mines you'll see all over Guanajuato, the mummies are quite localised. They're all in one place. I have never heard quite a satisfactory explanation, but it seems that the Guanajuatan soil and low humidity in the atmosphere dries up corpses quite well and very quickly. This was discovered sometime in 1865 when the remains of some people had to be dug up from the cemetery in order to make room for more dead people. They saw that instead of rotting corpses, they had well-preserved dry mummies. So what do you do with a bunch of dead dry people you just dug up? No, silly, you don't infuse them with a virus that brings dead cells to life and makes them hunger for living flesh. Rather, you put them in a museum, of course.

The museo de las momias (the museum of the mummies) is a prime example of the Mexican obsession with death. It's nothing but one long winding corridor filled with hundreds of mummies, without any labels or explanations. Just lots and lots of dead dry people. Some are clothed, but many are naked. It has become rather iconic of Guanajuato too, so iconic that Mexican masked wrestler legend El Santo has co-starred in one of those old black-and-white movies and there's mummy wrestling all around. The mummies have also spurred the imagination of more than one aspiring pulp novelist to write horror stories about the Guanajuatan mummies coming to life and terrorising the population.

Unfortunately, the museum is a little less exciting than El Santo's movie, although it does have a special section dedicated to death and other horror stories. This may be somewhat more amusing thanks to its holographic effects. It may be worth checking out, but in the memorable words of a girl who went with me on a bizarro date to the mummy museum, "you've seen one mummified crotch, you've seen them all."

Jardín de la Unión (Union Garden)

A sort of unofficial meeting place and cultural nucleus in town, its central location makes it an ideal place in which to convene and decide what to do later. If anything is happening in town, and something always seems to be happening, the greatest bustle of activity will be in Jardín de la Unión, a small plaza with a central kiosk and lush trees. Teatro Juárez overlooks Jardín Unión, as does the beautiful church of San Diego and some of the snazziest hotels in town, such as Hotel San Diego, Hotel Posada Santa Fe (Santa Fe Inn Hotel), and Hotel Luna (Moon Hotel). Many estudiantinas begin gathering crowds in front of the San Diego church when the sun sets.

Plaza de la Paz (Peace Square)

About 100 metres away from Jardín de la Unión, Plaza de la Paz is much smaller and unfortunately surrounded by a trickle of vehicular traffic, but nevertheless pretty with its minute hedge gardens and central adorning statue commissioned by Porfirio Díaz during the late nineteenth century. It's another popular meeting place among the town's youth, since it's surrounded by the Basílica (a large church) and the Palacio Legislativo, and it's not too far away from the main building of the University of Guanajuato. Upper-crust nightclub El Capitolio (The Capitol) is also near, which promotes some of the popularity of Plaza de la Paz as a meeting place.

University of Guanajuato

México unfortunately does not have many places were learning and research can be pursued for their own sake, with many so-called universities being more like places to get a shiny MBA, become a lawyer, or other similarly useful but not always intellectually fulfilling endeavours. The University of Guanajuato is a welcome exception from this trend, as most state-funded centres in México are, and music, theatre, literature, chemistry, and mathematics are strong areas of academic activity in the university, as well as other more business-oriented practices like law, industrial relations, accounting, management, and economics.

The university does not have a centralised campus, and rather its offices, libraries, and classrooms are scattered all around town. Some of the building originally housed a Jesuit seminary, but the main building of the university with the administrative offices was built in 1950s as a mixture of modern and colonial architecture, controversial in its time but now recognised as an achievement in blending the old with the new. The hundreds of steps in the main building a block away from Plaza de la Paz leading up to the main building have become the university's icon and a bane to the poor students that must walk up those steps every day to get to class (I think they're mostly lawyers in that building). Its ground floor often has artistic or scientific expositions open to the public, and it's worth your time checking out what it may have to offer.

The University of Guanajuato was the originator of the Cervantine Festival and is still a very active promoter of its events, and also promotes other cultural events and performance arts throughout the year.

La Alhóndiga de las Granaditas

If Jardín de la Unión is the pedestrian nucleus of town, then the Alhóndiga must be its vehicular analogy. It seems that all public busses and taxis at some point must go through the Alhóndiga, probably owing to its proximity to one of the lowest points in Guanajuato. Everything in Guanajuato is a steep uphill climb away from the Alhóndiga. The structure itself isn't particularly pretty, just a big granite block, but it never was meant to be pretty, since it was first a granary, later a fortress and a prison. Today it's a museum of México's history, and some of its interiors have been partially beautified by murals depicting episodes and attitudes of Mexico.

The large plaza and steps outside the Alhóndiga double as the main stage during the Cervantine Festival. All seating on the steps are open admission free of charge, while the handful of chairs the coordinators place at the bottom of this courtyard can be accessed for a relatively modest fee. The Alhóndiga is close to the main traditional farmer's market (usually known simply as El Mercado) and also close to the only supermarket in town, Comercial Mexicana.

Callejón del Beso (Kissing Alley)

Have I mentioned that Guanajuato is full of twisty narrow alleys? Well, the Callejón del Beso is what twisty narrow alleys are all about. It's the final destination of more than one estudiantina's callejeonada, and has become another of the Guanajuatan symbols. It is an alley a mere 63 cm wide. The legend tells of a tragically fated couple, where he was a poor miner and she was a rich Spanish heiress. Her father caught them kissing from balcony to balcony across the alley, and well, it ends like a Shakespearan tragedy.

For a modest donation, you can have one of the kids there recite to you the legend of the Callejón del Beso, have your picture taken as you kiss your partner, and buy tacky souvenirs with lewd Spanish puns about kissing.

Nightlife

Besides the traditional estudiantina described above and below, a lively nightlife has blossomed in town. These establishments are usually quite volatile, so don't be surprised if in a couple of years some of these go out of business, change their name, or if new ones take their place. For now, some of the places you can find are:

  • Guanajuato Grill: A rather snobbish night club with pop, dance, and techno music. Frequented by the rich kids that come from neighbouring León and other places looking for a weekend hangout. One of the few places that charges a cover charge and enforces a dress code. Not particularly suited to my tastes, but some people enjoy this sort of place. May be good for finding a one-night romance.
  • El Capitolio: Somewhat similar to Guanajuato Grill, but not as snobbish. I've never been inside, but they have a couple of sister projects worth checking out, namely, a karaoke bar, dubbed Capitolio Light, and a quiet and pleasant little bar further down the street called Las Musas (The Muses), which offers trova music, a guy with a guitar playing Spanish ballads.
  • Bar Ocho and El Santo: These two are similar in spirit and next to each other. More of a sit-down bar than a place to shake your booty, with an eclectic mix of music, some of which does sometime encourage booty-shaking, particularly true in El Santo. Oh, and El Santo has recently begun offering (the Mexican concept of) sushi, the only place in Guanajuato I know of which does this.
  • Why Not?: Another sit-down bar, and a good place to have a beer with your friends, croon along to old favourites, and cry about lost loves.
  • Barfly: This place has become insanely popular recently. It's a hippyish, ska/punk/reggae bar, under recent administration by an entrepeneur kid who used to live in Montréal, and some of Montréal's diverse cultural background somehow shows through the decor. It often has live shows, but it's a very small place for such a thing. Expect large crowds from Thursdays through Saturdays.
  • El Bar: Let's make one thing perfectly clear: we Mexicans are not known for our dancing ability, except when we have to become generic Latinos in foreign non-Latin American countries. Heck, the Colombians often make fun of how badly we dance their cumbia and merengue music. We will happily sing you mariachi music, or serenade you with ranchera ballads, but all these dancing tropical Latin beats come from Central America down south or the Caribbean islands. Nevertheless, because it has become expected of us as Latin Americans, and because, well, it's fun, we have had to learn how to salsa dance, and this creatively-named venue is one of the most famous places to do it in Guanajuato. There are a few others, but this is the place to start from. Handsome and swarthy men will be willing to sweep you off your feet (literally, sometimes) and twirl you around to the sound of Caribbean beats, sometimes for a modest fee if what you're really trying to do is learn how to properly dance the damn thing. I have seen some truly impressive feats of choreography in El Bar, and I do recommend visiting it at least once.

Don Quixote and Cervantine Culture in Guanajuato

Given the prominence of Guanajuato under the Spanish crown, it is perhaps not surprising that a certain Spanish character persists here. What may be surprising is the strong presence of Don Quixote in Guanajuato. Indeed, Guanajuato's nickname is "The Cervantine Capital of America", where "America" in this context refers to the continent, not just the U.S. (Forgive me for refusing to translate the nickname using the term "the Americas". There is a complex reason for my refusal.)

It all begun in 1952 when students and faculty members from the University of Guanajuato begun presenting skits penned by The Prince of Wit, Cervantes himself, and about the same time the music students decided to bring some of the music and character of Don Quixote's time to Guanajuato. It then exploded into the Cervantine Festival which nowadays has little to do itself with Cervantes, but Guanajuato offers plenty other opportunities to soak up Don Quixote and Cervantes. Last year may have been an exceptional Cervantine Festival, since I did see a substantial amount of shows with Cervantine themes, although this may have happened because last year was the 400th anniversary of the first printing of Don Quixote.

Actually, "Cervantine Capital of America" is more than just a nickname. The Spanish government officially bestowed this name to Guanajuato in 2004 after carefully considering Guanajuato's contribution to Cervantine culture through portrayals and analysis of Cervantes' plays, popularisation of Don Quixote's character and settings, hosting of international conferences for Cervantine analysis, plus pure academic research (the university of Guanajuato has an active department of Cervantine studies unmatched anywhere else in the world). If the many plazas and sculptures around town of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, and Cervantes are not enough, this is some more testament of the Cervantine culture in Guanajuato.

La Estudiantina

The first estudiantina troupe started playing in 1963 throughout the streets and alleys of Guanajuato. They attempt to revive the old jovial Spanish student lifestyle from the fifteenth century in music, dress, and spirit. Those who have read Don Quixote will recognise the mocking and irreverent Salamanca bachelor Sansón Carrasco in the music students from the University of Guanajuato.

There are many estudiantina troupes, some of them old enough to have been playing since 1963, but most are genuinely currently enrolled music students in the university. Two or three every night gather an audience in Jardín de la Unión and then take them on a tour through the alleys. They joke as they regale their audience with songs, and explain in good humour the history and legends of Guanajuato. Part of the ritual involves drinking out of an oddly-shaped ceramic called a porrón, or dancing like a chicken to a certain song about a rooster.

All of the show is unfortunately in a very Mexican Spanish, so I'm afraid that a mastery of the language is necessary in order to understand the jokes. I originally had some reservations about following an estudiantina around in one of its callejoneadas, but after done so once, I was quite positively impressed and I recommend them, for their good humour and lively music crosses linguistic boundaries and can be enjoyed by anyone.

I have also recently discovered that more than one of the "folk" Mexican songs whose origin I couldn't pinpoint are in fact estudiatina songs popularised since 1963. Foreigners probably won't recognise what songs I'm talking about, but De Colores is one such song.

Juglares (Bards)

These are somewhat akin to the estudiantina, but less prominent and less frequent. They dress in a samilar style, but have more well-developed comedic skits and focus more on the comedy than the music. Each juglar has a unique and colourful fifteenth-century Spanish gypsy style, unlike the estudiantinas where all members of one troupe dress nearly identically.

Museo Iconográfico del Quijote

This is a museum with a fascinating variety of depictions of Don Quixote. As an undying fan of what is arguably the world's first novel, I cannot begin to explain how much fun I always have in this museum. It's basically many different portrayals of everyone's favourite mad knight-errant in paintings, engravings, drawings, tapestries, coins, sculptures, and porcelain. Those damnable windmills are as inconspicuous in most depictions as they are in the novel itself, where they only occupy a single page. One of my favourite portrayals here is of a statue of Don Quixote and Sancho in an Asian style, half-Samurai, half-Mongolian warrior, in gorgeous porcelain.

It was inaugurated in 1987 and amongst some of its most famous artists we can find José Luis Cuevas and Spanish surrealist legend Salvador Dalí.

Festival Internacional Cervantino (International Cervantine Festival)

This is one of the largest artistic festivals of its kind in Latin America, indeed, in the world. Originally completely focussed on presenting plays and skits by Cervantes, the latter have more or less become a separate activity and the festival instead brings performance arts from around México and the world, usually having "guests of honour" from one or two Mexican states and one or two countries from the world. Last year Yucatán was the Mexican state and Japan the country, and I managed to catch quite some interesting shows, amongst which I best remember Gocoo/Goro, the Japanese drummers who played in Zion in the second The Matrix movie, and Phillip Glass. Mikail Bulgakov's theatrical adaption of Don Quixote was also shown during the festival, and a huge inflatable Don Quixote mounted on Rocinante graced the entrace to Guanajuato during the entire festival.

The festival runs for three weeks in October, and Guanajuato's population almost triples in size for those weeks, especially near the end. It is responsible for much of Guanajuato's international fame. It may be a Cervantine event almost merely in name, but I think it's still one in spirit.

Entremeses Cervantinos (Cervantine Skits)

Every year since 1952 the university's theatre company has been presenting Cervantes' skits a few weeks before the full-blown Cervantine festival. They are somewhat less advertised, and they are held in the Plaza de Roque, an outdoor stage downtown.

Where to Stay

Since Guanajuato thrives on tourism, it has an attractive variety of hotels, motels, and hostels. However, some of these "tourists" are hard to classify as such when they decide to stay here for half a year or a full year at a time, sometimes longer, sometimes even deciding to immigrate here permanently. A profitable business in Guanajuato is temporary real estate, renting out rooms, apartments, and houses for the students that come from all around México and abroad, or for those adventurers who very earnestly want to learn the Mexican language and culture.

Below I shall list some of the lodgings I'm partially acquainted with, but bear in mind that if you're planning to stay for a long period of time, there's a fluctuating temporary real estate market to consider. Many families rent out rooms for about 300 USD per month, usually in relatively luxurious homes, and houses go for about the same, perhaps a bit higher at 400 or 500 USD per month. This is usually reasonable for travelers who can afford a comfortable margin in their budget, but there's also a market for students where a price of 200 USD is already considered high-end. A thing to watch out for is that foreigners are perceived as wealthy, at least by Mexican standards, so often they get quoted higher prices simply on account of being foreign. Established hotels and hostels, however, have fixed prices and this sort of inflation will not happen there.

When dialing telephone numbers in Guanajuato, remember that the area code is 473 and the country code for México is 52. All of the telephone numbers I list below have to be prefixed by these two numbers, plus whatever prefix you need to dial from your country in order to get international access (usually a short sequence of zeros and ones).

Although a good deal of lodgings are located downtown, bear in mind that Guanajuato is tiny and cabs are easily found and quite cheap. They will usually not charge more than 40 MXN for a ride, so the precise location of the lodgings in Guanajuato is not a big issue, since everything is near.

Hostels
  • El Hostalito: A centrally located and charming little place, from what I can tell by its more public areas. I have not personally stayed here, but it seems clean and claims to have some comforts. It has a couple of private single and double rooms, plus shared accomodations. Breakfast is included, and facilities include a common kitchen, dining area, study room, and laundry service. Rooms go from 125 MXN to about 200 MXN per night.

    Contact information:

    • Phone: 732 5483, 732 0095, and a mobile at 101 7622
    • Email: hostalitogto@hotmail.com


  • La Casa del Tío (Uncle's House): Similar in style and price range to El Hostalito, also quite centrally located.

    Contact information:


  • Hostel Refugio de Ángeles (Angels' Refuge Hostel): Also centrally located, has slightly cheaper accomodations starting from 100 MXN per night. Offers all of the same services as the above hostels, plus separate washrooms for men and women.

    Contact information:


  • Casa Kloster: It's a clean and comfortable place, with private rooms for one or two persons, but only one shared bathroom. It has a central courtyard with flowers and birds, although it could use a bit more light for my taste. Most of the rooms do not have windows. It's also one of the cheaper places at 100 MXN per night. I hear it gets booked early, so plan ahead if you're staying here.

    Contact information:

    • Phone: 732 0088


  • Hotel Hostal Cantarrans (Frogsong Hotel/Hostel): This hostel starts to get into the high-end in the hostel range. It's very well-kept, colourful, pretty, and quite comfortable.

    Contact information:

Mid-range hotels

I have only ever stayed in one hotel in Guanajuato, creatively named Hotel Guanajuato, so at this stage, I cannot really comment much about these accomodations. I shall provide contact information instead so that you may make a choice yourself. Prices in here range from 200 MXN to about 500 MXN, but they may get hiked up to about 700 MXN per night during the Cervantine Festival.

You may wish to check out http://www.hotelesguanajuato.com for more specific information than what I provide here.

  • Hotel Guanajuato: A bus ride away from downtown. Very comfortable and relatively affordable.

    Contact information:


  • Hotel Alhóndiga: Like other hotels in the Alhóndiga area, this one is quite affordable with rooms going for 200 MXN or so.

    Contact information:

    • Phone: 732 0525


  • Hotel Molino del Rey (King's Mill Hotel): Located downtown, cheap at in 300-400 MXN range.

    Contact information:

    • Phone: 732 2223

High-end Hotels

I have never stayed in any of these, but I'm sure you'll get your money's worth from them. They seem luxurious enough from the outside.

  • Hotel San Diego: Located at the heart of Guanajuato in the Jardín de la Unión.

    Contact information:


  • Parador San Javier (San Javier Stop): This used to be where guests of the San Javier hacienda would be housed. I've had dinner in one of its dining halls for an event organised by my school. It was snazzy.

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  • La Abadía Hotel (The Abbey Hotel): Located right across from Parador San Javier. I've had the breakfast buffet in its restaurant and was delighted.

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  • Hotel Real de Minas (Royal Mines Hotel): I think this is where foreign diplomats and businessmen like to stay. It looks very luxurious.

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  • Holiday Inn Express: A Holiday Inn like all the others. Probably not as high-end as Real de Minas, but guaranteed quality at any rate.

    Contact information:


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