Zacatecas, Zacatecas – Mexico’s most beautiful city?

It shall be the most beautiful city in the surroundings, if not of entire Mexico: Zacatecas is, who would guess so, the state of Zacatecas’ capital. And really, thanks to almost inexhaustible precious metal deposits the city looks back on a centuries-long rich inheritance, what appears in the exquisite architecture of the houses made from pink sandstone. Built on a hilly area on an elevation between 2400 and 2700 m the town contains a pleasant, spring-like weather all year round. Not only the meteorological climate is nice, the city’s atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. Many of the 124,000 inhabitants speak English, even the night guard and the ice cream woman, despite there are less visitors than in other better-known towns. Rarely any city so warmly welcomed us, and we thankfully suck in the flair.

The centres of all colonial cities are extremely congested and hardly offer parking possibilities. Once made an unfortunate turn, we are caught in narrow side alleys of which thoroughfare cause us perspiring hands. A parking lot at the centre’s edge offers us to park during the day for 30 Peso, and to stay overnight for 50 Peso. The kind guard even offers us electricity and water.

For the moment we visit the neighbouring Mina El Éden (80 MXN pp). Equipped with a helmet, we go down into the mine by train before continuing on foot. There is a small mineral museum, and then an English speaking guide leads us through the tunnels. From 1580 on silver, gold, iron, zinc and lead were mined for 380 years. The productive mine was only shut down because some city houses were in danger of collapsing. Today there is a discotheque in 120 m depth, probably the deepest one on earth. We get a good impression of the harsh, even life-threatening working conditions of the Indio, adults as well as children. They had to chisel tunnels into the mine, following the veins of ore – as workers for a pittance, and as slaves for no money at all. Having survived the childhood, their average life expectancy was 35. Metal mining is continued today on other spots around the city under more human conditions.

At the mine’s back entrance is the cable car station that brings us for 40 MXN in ten minutes onto the city hill Cerro de la Bufa in 2700 m elevation. Up there is a museum and statue for the famous revolutionary leader from 1914, Pancho Villa, and Zacatecas’ patron saint’s pretty chapel as well as a fantastic view to town. Instead of going back by teleférico, we walk down the steep path with many steps through narrow alleys to the cathedral. The ecclesiastical building, completed in 1752, is regarded as a masterpiece of Mexican baroque that’s called Churrigueresque style. This style is characterized by overladen ornaments, conveying flowing movements to obscure the shape below. Zacatecas is blessed with many churches and museums, beautiful shops and restaurants as well as with an aqueduct from the 18th century. It doesn’t provide the city with water any more, but its 39 arches can still be admired. All attractions are within a foot walk from the parking lot (La Roca del Roque, at the entrance of Mina El Eden, N22°46’35’’ W102°34’49’’).

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