Monday, May 11, 2009

Zacatecas

March 9th to 14th

Zacatecas is a gem. 
Set in the steep sided valley between Cerro La Bufa and Cerro del Grillo, it's easy to lose yourself exploring it's intricate web of twisting cobbled streets as they meander around the city's treasure trove of old colonial buildings. 



It's arid, dry country and at 2500m skies are azure by day, cool and clear by night. The centre is dominated by the pink stone Cathedral built at exorbitant expense using money from the rich silver mines under the surrounding hills. The mines bestow the town with wealth to this day. 



Rich barroque carvings adorn 3 sides of the Cathedral and are exquisitely detailed....



The city is rich in culture, boasting world class galleries and museums. The Raphael Coronel Museum is set in the 16th Century ruins of the Convent of San Fransisco, now decorated with beautifully colourful landscaped gardens....



It boasts the largest collection of Mexican folk masks. Over 3000 are on display at any time with several thousand more hidden away. Many were used in celebrations round the country....
 


There's a fine collection of excellent pre-Hispanic sculpture from many of the indiginous tribes...

 

Plus puppets used in shows before television was invented...



Pedro Coronel (Raphael's brother) was an affluent artist and also a hoarder of fine things from around the world. Upon his death he bequethed the entire collection to his home town. William Hogarth engravings, Goya and Picasso paintings amongst others.

Taking time out from the museums we explore parks and gardens with exotic flowers and fountains that sparkle and glow in time to music by night....



A cable car rides 200m to the top of Cerro La Bufa for commanding views of the city. There's a silver mine tour and museum comemorating Pancho Villa's fine military tactics as he defeated 12,000 of President Huerta's troops ensconced in the city in 1914. This was a nail in the coffin as it left the route to Mexico City open to the revolutionary troops....



Our 4 day visit extends to 6 as a mixture of culture, tranquillo city life, and a friendly hostal with an amazing rooftop terrace tempts us to stay longer. Great company in the form of 2 Canadian couples - Terry and Diane, Frank and Kathleen make Zacatecas truly memorable. Thanks guys!




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