The city of Zacatecas is colorful and eclectic, like all of Mexico. These ancient lands were inhabited 10 thousand years ago, when the Guachichili Indians and Zacatecas (from the word “sacatl”, meaning a variety of local grass) mined metals here. The Spaniards, who came in the 16th century through Guadalajara, built the mines of Our Lady of Remedios for the extraction of silver and lead, and later opened a Catholic parish and gave the place an ornate name: Noble and Loyal City of Our Lady of Zacatecas. It became the state capital in 1823, shortening the name to Zacatecas. Check ehangzhou for other cities and countries as well as overview of North America.
Today, the city center with pink adobe mansions, houses of all colors of the rainbow, cobbled streets, museums and temples is entirely taken under the care of UNESCO. The names of many of its alleys and lanes are associated with ancient Indian legends, the layout is free, even chaotic: hills and stairs are everywhere. The more interesting it is to wander around the city, getting lost in the labyrinths of cultures and eras.
How to get to Zacatecas
First you need to fly to Mexico City: Aeroflot and Aeromexico have flights from Sheremetyevo via Los Angeles, Madrid, London or New York (from 17 hours).
From the Mexican capital to Zacatecas, almost 600 km. The Aeromexico domestic flight will last 1.5 hours, the bus will take 9-10 hours, and if you rent a car and drive through Guanajuato, the journey will take 6-7 hours.
Zacatecas Airport is 25 km from the city, you can only get by taxi in 20-30 minutes and 180-220 MXN. The prices on the page are for June 2021.
You need to walk around the compact center on foot, having the patience for constant ups and downs. When fatigue takes its toll, you can catch a taxi and agree on a price in advance: there are no meters, bargaining is appropriate, trips cost an average of 40–60 MXN. Tourist buses Maxibus ride around the sights, the tour lasts about 45 minutes.
Cuisine and restaurants of Zacatecas
Here, at every step, traditional Mexican restaurants, steakhouses, pizzerias, coffee houses with desserts, bars and pubs. The average cost of lunch in a cafe is 150–300 MXN per person, dinner in a restaurant is from 450 MXN without alcohol.
In addition to traditional tacos and burritos, we recommend “gorditas” – corn tortillas cut in half stuffed with minced meat, vegetables, guacamole and other ingredients. Meat is preferred here in the form of stew with corn, peas, herbs and spices; the most popular option is “asado de boda” with pork and chili. Birria de chivo is a popular lamb leg stewed with spices. Chili, hominy, onion, lime and oregano are added to the menudo soup, and nuts, cheese and dried fruits are added to the sweet capirotada pudding.
Pulque and mezcal made from fermented agave juice are known to everyone, but Zacatecas also has something special: a bright red “colonche” from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.
The most impressive architectural monument is the Cathedral of the 17th century, in the baroque appearance of which European and Indian motifs are intertwined. Its walls and towers made of pink stone, changing color depending on the location of the sun, are decorated with hundreds of sculptures: Catholic saints peacefully side by side with ordinary citizens, animals, birds and mythical characters.
Nearby are the Fernando Calderon Theater and the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built by the Jesuits in the Churrigueresco style – lush Spanish Baroque. The Church of St. Fatima is a neo-Gothic pearl; conferences and cultural events are held in the monastery of St. Augustine. The El Cubo aqueduct looks ancient, although it was built in the 18th century, and the Gonzalez Ortega market appeared a century later and now looks more like a museum.
The best views of the city are from the cable car between the hills of Cerro de la Bufa and Cerro del Grillo.
The Manuel Felgueres Museum, dedicated to abstract painting, is open in a former prison building. The Pedro Coronel Museum houses paintings by Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Kandinsky and Goya, as well as a collection of Mexican art and an extensive library. Brother Pedro, the artist Rafael Coronel, founded a museum with ancient Indian masks, totems and puppets in one of the halls of the monastery of St. Francis.
With children, you can go to the zoo near Lake Encantada or to the Enrique Estrada Park with pink flower beds and fountains. The cultural program includes the Museum of the Inquisition and Playmohistoria, where the history of mankind is played out by large puppets.
There is something to see in the vicinity of Zacatecas. The El Eden mine tells of the terrible working conditions of the slaves who mined silver for the conquering Spaniards, and the functioning monastery of Guadalupe exhibits paintings by Indians who were trained in European artistic traditions.
La Quemada is an ancient Indian city (some consider it the ancestral home of the Aztecs) that died in a fire: only the pillared hall, a 12-meter pyramid, a defensive wall and powerful stone foundations survived. And the Sierra de los Organos National Park, with coniferous forests and endemic animals, is known for rocks in the form of giant organ pipes.