Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines

State Party = MEX
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, ii, iv, vi
ID = 482
Region = Latin America and the Caribbean
Year = 1988
Session = 12th
Link =
The Mexican city of Guanajuato is the capital of the state of the same name. It is located at coord|21|02|N|101|28|W|, 370 km (230 miles) northwest of Mexico City, at an elevation of 1,996 m (6,550 ft) above sea level. The 2005 census population was 70,798 people in the city. Guanajuato is also the surrounding municipality of which the city is municipal seat. The municipality had a population of 153,364 and an areal extent of 996.74 km² (384.84 sq mi). The city of Guanajuato lies near the western edge of the municipality, which includes numerous smaller outlying communities, the largest of which are Marfil, Yerbabuena, and Santa Teresa. Guanajuato, although it is the state capital, is only the fifth-largest city in the state, behind León, Irapuato, Celaya, and Salamanca. The historic town and adjacent mines are a World Heritage Site.


Guanajuato was founded as a town in 1554 and received the designation as a city in 1741. It is located in one of the richest silver mining areas of Mexico, and is well known for its wealth of fine colonial era Spanish architecture.

The Spanish name "Guanajuato" comes from "Quanaxhuato" (or "Kuanasiutu" in a different orthography), meaning "Hill of Frogs" in the local indigenous P'urhépecha language (a large rock formation outside of the city of Guanajuato looks remarkably like a frog, and frogs are common in the region).Cite book|title=¡Así es! Guanajuato... Patrimonio de la Humanidad|last=Ramirez Mora|first=Jorge Alberto|publisher=RG Digital|location=Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico|year=date unspecified, ca. 2005|id=no ISBN number] Cite book|title=Guanajuato Mexico|author=editorial staff|publisher=Editoriál Stampart|location=Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico|year=date unspecified, ca. 2005|id=no ISBN number] In the native religion of the P'urhépecha (Tarascans), the frog represented the god of wisdom.

The city was originally built over the Guanajuato River, which flowed through tunnels underneath the city. However, after years of raising buildings to accommodate repeated flooding, in the mid-twentieth century, engineers built a dam and redirected the river into underground caverns. The tunnels were lit and paved with cobblestones for automobile traffic, and this underground road network carries the majority of cars driving through the city today. It is one of the most notable features of the city.

The city played a major role in the Mexican War of Independence since it is the capital of the state of Guanajuato in which Miguel Hidalgo started the independence movement. The statue of El Pípila and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas still remind of that time.


Cristo Rey del Cubilete (Christ the King Shrine) is one of Mexico's most important religious monuments, and is said to mark the geographic center of Mexico. [ [ Cristo Rey Shrine. Guanajuato capital ] ] The 65-foot statue atop Cerro del Cubilete is the destination of an annual cabalgata (pilgrimage) every January to celebrate the Epiphany, in which thousands of mostly horse-ridding pilgrims ride to the shrine. [cite journal| last = Fuller| first = Alexander| title = Mexico's Pilgrim Cowboys| journal = National Geographic| pages =130–139| date = August, 2007]

In the Panteón catacombs to the west of the city is a famous cemetery noted for the natural mummies produced by unknown means. About 1 in 100 bodies buried here experience natural mummification. In the late 1800s the town instituted a "burial tax" for the families of the deceased. When some of the poorest families were unable to pay the tax, their relatives were dug up and placed on public view in a purpose-built museum. The 'Guanajuato Mummy Museum' still adds corpses to this day; two children were added who died in 1984 most recently due to their relatives' failure to pay the $20 per 5-year rental fee. The museum holds 111 corpses resting on velvet pillows. Today, it is reported that the proceeds from the museum help fund the city's coffers to a considerable degree.

The city of Guanajuato was the birthplace of artist Diego Rivera, whose house is now a museum.

The city also harbours one of the largest places in Mexico for mathematical research, a public institution dubbed CIMAT.

During the final week of July, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are co-hosts to the Expresión en Corto International Film Festival, Mexico’s largest competitive film festival and the most prestigious of its kind in Latin America. The internationally renowned festival is free to the public and screens over 400 films from 10am until 4am each day in 16 venues, which include such unusual locations as the subterranean streets and tunnels of Guanajuato, the Guanajuato Mummy Museum and Municipal graveyard (Panteónes).

Each October the city holds the Festival Internacional Cervantino, an international festival of the arts named after Miguel de Cervantes. The festival is a popular draw for young students from across central Mexico, but attracts participants and spectators from around the world.

Medieval festival

There are walks in the city at night through the callejones, small subterranean streets, where college students play medieval instruments. Twice a year the city has a medieval festival, [cite web|url=|title=Festival Medieval Guanajuato - Gran Hermandad Medieval|accessdate=2008-02-05] one during Holy week in March, and the other in mid-December. A medieval fair is organized in the city centre with parades, and Spanish medieval food and music. People dress according to the fashion of that era, and the city is decorated as a village in medieval Spain. The colonial architecture of the city gives the festival an authentic backdrop.

Sister cities

* Alcalá de Henares, Spain
* Santa Fe, Spain
*flagicon|USA Ashland, United States
* Claremont, United States
* Quebec City, Canada




* [ Link to tables of population data from Census of 2005] INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática
* [ Guanajuato] Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México

External links

* en icon fr icon [ Guanajuato capital] : Attractions, services, lodging, art, culture, restaurants and much more.
* [ Municipio de Guanajuato Capital] Official website
* en icon fr icon de icon [ Tourist Guide with pictures and videos.]
* [ Guanajuato Web Info] Website about Guanajuato
* [ The City Of Guanajuato] by Doreen Stevens, "Our Mexico"
* [ Photo Essay of Valenciana Church of San Cayetano and environs in Guanajuato]
* [ The Mummies of Guanajuato: Powerful Memento Mori] by Ann Bell, "Mexico Connect"
* en icon fr icon [ San Miguel de Allende] : Attractions, services, lodging, art, culture, restaurants and much more.

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