Baroque Architecture, Cobblestone Street, Sidewalk Cafes, and Beautiful Churches Makes Guanajuato the Most Romantic City in Mexico for American Tourists

Baroque Architecture, Cobblestone Street, Sidewalk Cafes, and Beautiful Churches Makes Guanajuato the Most Romantic City in Mexico for American Tourists

Thu, 2012-05-10

Guanajuato, the capital of the Guanajuato State is a historical and picturesque city full of agreeable little plazas, streets lined with stairs and houses of pastel-colored facades and balconies trimmed with iron work, and flower-filled window boxes. Certainly the type of city you would expect to be filled with tourists seeking to soak in some colonial culture and expats looking for a taste of Mexico’s famous laid back lifestyle. But for some reason Guanajuato has remained relatively obscure compared to nearby popular expat destinations like San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic. 

Perhaps the city’s steep canyon walls and twisted up-and-down alleyways have discouraged visitors that prefer to get around by car, but if that doesn’t deter you from wanting to visit the crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities then you should put Guanajuato on your to-do list. 

Guanajuato was established in the 16th century when the Spanish found rich veins of silver and built a magnificent city over the mines. By the 18th century Guanajuato had become the world’s leading silver-extraction center. Thanks to this prosperity, the city built beautiful Baroque and neoclassical buildings that influenced the architecture of Central Mexico. The churches of La Compañia and La Valenciana are considered to be among the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture in Central and South America. 

Today Guanajato is a city of incredible charm, considered by many to be the most romantic city in Mexico. In the 20th century, the city added to the already eye-pleasing structures left by the Spanish by erecting several architecturally outstanding monuments and buildings such as the Juarez theater, the government palace, and the Hidalgo market. In addition to the city’s stunning architecture, the University of Guanajuato serves as the city’s cultural nucleus. The University gives Guanajuato a vibrant cultural life where plays, concerts, dance and international movies take place year-round. Each October, Guanajuato plays host to the International Cervantino Festival where world-renowned music, dance and theater groups come from around the world to perform. 

The city is a maze of cobblestone streets and alleys that wind around steep hillsides upon a small ravine, opening into vistas of beautiful churches and small plazas. The most famous of these alleys is the Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss). The local romantic legend has it that this callejón is so narrow that lovers, each standing on a balcony of each side of the alley, can reach across the alley and exchange a kiss. 

In the evenings, it is difficult to escape the street music in the center of town. In the social plaza, the Jardín Unión, the mariachis and norteños bands vie with each other for paying customers sitting in the sidewalk cafés. It's not uncommon to see two or three bands playing simultaneously just a few yards apart, a cacophony that the Mexicans seem to love. They dance among the tables.

Some expats compare Guanajuato to the small, medieval towns of Tuscany and Provence. However, Guanajuato is more animated and less expensive that other top choices for the romantic retiree. An expat couple can expect to live well in Guanajuato on a budget of about $1,300 to $1,700 per month, including rent, entertaining, and dining out. For American tourists Guanajuato is easy to reach, located just a two-hour flight from Dallas and Houston.