Pueblos Magicos: The Mountainside City of Taxco is the Jewel of Guerrero

On August 14, 2012 by MexicoToday

Taxco is an old world city build on the side of a mountain with narrow, winding streets that, from a distance, look more like a dysfunctional spider web than an actual city grid. As you walk through its maze of cobblestone streets, in between white building with Spanish-style, red-tile roofs it would be easy to believe that you have been magically transported to a mountainside town in Spain or Italy.

To first time visitors, it might come as a surprise that that this small colonial city is actually Mexico’s silver capital. But even in pre-Hispanic times, the area was well known as a source for precious stones used for decorative and ritual purposes.

Taxco is also famous for its silversmiths, a fact that becomes evident as you encounter jewelry store after jewelry store selling locally handcrafted silver rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, and any manner or decorative ornaments. These stores become more and more common the closer you get to the main plaza. Tourists from near and far come to Taxco in search of good deals on quality silver jewelry and unique handmade jewelry.

Conquistador Hernán Cortés founded the city in 1529 to support mining haciendas like Hacienda El Chorillo and Hacienda San Juan Bautista that were also established by Cortés or his soldiers.

In the mid 18th century, Don José de la Borda, an entrepreneur who made his fortune through silver mines, financed the building of the Parish of Santa Prisca and San Sebastian. The church is a beautiful example of Mexican baroque architecture that features a pink stone façade, two ornate towers, and a cupola covered in colorful tiles. Due to the area’s rugged terrain and lack of flat land, the church is narrower than most. Fortunately, the narrow construct did not limit the interior’s décor, which features elaborate floor-to-ceiling altarpieces covered in gold leaf.

A short drive from Taxco you can also find the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park, a 2,700-acre forest that contains one of the largest cave systems in the world.  The park offers two-hour tours through the caverns that allow visitors to admire stalagmite and stalactite formations as well as Olmec and Chontal remains.

The Pueblos Magicos program identifies towns that reflect “the culture of Mexico” through attributes like architecture, traditions, customs, music, gastronomy, festivities and handcrafts. There are currently 52 destinations throughout Mexico that have earned the Pueblos Magicos classification.

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