Guadalajara On a BudgetGuadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco in western Mexico, as well as one of the country's largest cities. It is best known for tequila and mariachi music, which both originate in Jalisco, as well as a thriving historic center with colonial architecture and landmarks.
SightsGuadalajara is a city of colonial plazas, public parks, and impressive churches. Many visit to explore the history evident in the city's layout and architecture. Located at the heart of the city is Guadalajara Cathedral, or Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady, which was built during the 16th and 17th centuries and houses the relics of St. Innocent. Other notable churches include the 17th-century Franciscan sanctuary of Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan and the Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento, known for its Italian mosaics, clock tower, and stained glass.
Another unique monument located at the heart of the city near the main cathedral is the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, showcasing 17 fluted columns in honor of the state's artists, musicians, and historical leaders. With landmarks like this one, and countless historic plazas, the city itself is a museum to the past it has seen. Also a part of this history is the El Panteon de Belen, or Belen Cemetery, dating back to 1786. Today the site is a place of legend and folklore, with night tours offered to the unafraid.
NeighborhoodsThe historic Centro, or downtown, is very navigable on foot. Most attractions are concentrated here, as it is the oldest section of the city where it was first founded. The very center is marked by Plaza de Armas, a rectangular pedestrian area with gardens, iron benches, and a unique 19th-century band stand. In addition to this main plaza, there are many squares and public parks throughout the downtown area, some of which include the Plaza de la Liberacion known for its two fountains, the large Plaza Tapatia which is near a traditional market (southeast of the plaza), and the Plaza de los Mariachis across from restaurants where visitors can hear live mariachis play. To the north of Plaza de Armas are landmarks including the ornate Guadalajara Cathedral and the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres.
Another important hub of activity is the Avenida Chapultepec, a wide pedestrian boulevard lined with trees, fountains, cafes, bars, shops, and a daily afternoon flea market (or "tianguis"), central to the neighborhood of Colonia Americana. Other important areas include places like Revolution Park near the University and its art museum, and additional green spaces like Morelos Park and Parque Agua Azul. Opportunities for dining, shopping, and accommodations can be found throughout the city center.
ActivitiesFrom watching football (aka soccer in the U.S.) to shopping amidst the city's many pedestrian neighborhoods (such as Tlaquepaque, which has the feel and charm of small-town Mexico), Guadalajara has something for everyone. Within the city many visitors also frequent the Guadalajara Zoo, known for its many species, train tours, and aquarium, as well as the Parque Agua Azul, which features an outdoor theater, butterfly house, aviary, and playgrounds.
For options outside the city, consider a day trip to the town of Tequila-home to Mexico's national spirit. The town sits in a volcanic valley lined with rows of blue agave, from which the liquid is distilled. The 200-year-old distillery of Jose Cuervo is also open to visitors with a train ride and tour of its facilities, including traditional snacks and tequila samples.
Food and DiningLike the rest of Mexico, Guadalajara's cuisine is a mix of pre-Hispanic and Spanish influences with a few specialty dishes and local techniques thrown in. One meal unique to the state of Jalisco is birria, a spicy stew traditionally made from goat or mutton and seasoned with chili peppers, ginger, cumin, black pepper, oregano, cloves, and other spices. Another local favorite is tortas ahogadas, or “drowned tortas," which is basically a sub sandwich on a dense bun filled with pork and topped with tomato chili pepper sauce. Others include a soup prepared with hominy, pork or chicken, topped with cabbage, radishes, minced onions, and other ingredients called pozole, a peanut sauce called pipian, and a fruit salad kind of dessert called bionico. Being the land of tequila, margaritas are popular with visitors and many restaurants offer live mariachi music alongside your meal. For the true food connoisseur, the city hosts the Feria Internacional Gastronomia (International Gastronomy Fair) each year in September, featuring both Mexican and international cuisines.
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