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Guadalajara, a city of flowers and fountains

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Nalynn Dolan Caine | Saturday August 2, 2014 6:01PM ET
Guadalajara
Mexico   The birthplace of mariachi

If you're thinking about visiting Mexico and would like to spend a few days in a very modern yet slower city, think about Guadalajara, the second most populated city in Mexico with spring-like weather. No one's in a hurry there, flowers and trees are always in bloom, making the city worth a visit at any time of year.


AndaresBut flowers are not the only thing blooming here. Thanks to its strong economic potential this "Silicon Valley of Mexico" is the main producer of software, digital and electronic components in the country, and more likely than not airport customs offices get the answer "Both!" as the reason of a trip. The city hosts one of the most exclusive shopping centres in the world, Andares.

Andares aside, there are so many things in Guadalajara to see and do that won't cost you a kidney. All you need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes and working camera to catch all the best sights and attractions that city has to offer.

Guadalajara_cafeGuadalajara, a city of parks, fountains monuments, flowers, and tree lined avenues is also known as the birthplace of the world famous Mariachi bands. While exploring its secrets you would learn very soon that there is a good spot to sit down, rest, have a lunch - or tequila - and listen to mariachi bands play, virtually every few steps you make. Request a song or two, it's so much fun.

Then take a ride on a Calandria, a small carriage pulled by horses. Those colourful carriages haven't changed since the old days. They have a canopy roofs and are lit by side-lanterns. A super cool way to get to know the city.

Plaza de las ArmasThe most beautiful and interesting area in the city is the historical downtown where the oldest buildings are located. There are five main plazas downtown. Beautiful pedestrian Plaza Tapatia filled with flowers and fountains, and rectangular Plaza de las Armas with its gardens, ironwork kiosk made in Paris in the 19th century, ironwork benches, amazing twin-tower cathedral, Catedral Metropolitana, and the government palace, are the most attractive. Here your cameras should work like crazy.

Cabanas Cultural InstituteAt the far east end of the Plaza Tapatia you will find the Cabanas Cultural Institute. This UNESCO World Heritage Site now functions as a museum and cultural centre. Go and see murals - more than 50 of them - painted by Mexican painter Jose Clemente Orozco inside the main chapel. Within Guadalajara's historic downtown there is also a large number of beautiful squares and public parks. Four of them surround the cathedral to form a Latin Cross with Plaza Guadalajara at the head.

Plaza de la RotondaIf you find yourself in a square that hosts twenty-four statues then you are in the Plaza de la Rotonda. Come at night to see it spectacularly lit up. In the late afternoon hours stretch your legs to the Plaza los Mariachis. It is filled by a number of restaurants in which you can hear live mariachi music. And when the night comes the city's nightlife should satisfy even the most seasoned night owls.

Zona RosaAvenida Vallarta, a beautiful, green street that was once one of the favourite areas of the upper classes, with its old gorgeous colonial mansions draws many visitors in to its area. Charming, full of trees Zona Rosa get together all those who want to spend time doing nothing, watching people passing by while sipping a cup of coffee, enjoying a meal, or shopping leisurely. While at meal, beware those innocent looking sauces. They can burn your tongue off if you are not expecting it.

Guadalajara is abound in flea markets, galleries, markets, and places for anyone. If you want to spend one fun afternoon don't miss to visit Mercado Libertad, the largest "under roof" market in Mexico located just behind the Plaza Tapatia.

Mariachi FestivalIf you are already in Guadalajara try to extend your staying or visit the city later this month when the International Mariachi Festival takes place, to listen to mariachi groups from all over Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia. The next excellent event, the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest Spanish language book fair in the world, is held each year over nine days and it's not to be missed too. Books are not solely in Spanish so you will surely find a book, two to your taste.

Lake ChapalaBetween performances, visit Planetary Center of Science and Technology. It has permanent exhibitions of telecommunications modules, an exhibition on antique cars, a planetarium show and many more. Before you back home, go to see Lake Chapala, a quiet, picturesque town. Play golf - the weather is favourable - go to a shopping expedition, enjoy your time and be sure to come back again.

 

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