Guadalajara - Culture

The Pearl of the West is the affectionate name that the local residents have for Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara. Located in the west-central part of the country in the state of Jalisco, the beautiful Colonial city of Guadalajara sits on a high plateau more than 5,000 feet above sea level.

Whether you are thinking of visiting Guadalajara as a tourist or opening a business there, the city has much to offer. Many foreigners have even chosen Guadalajara as the location for their retirement. The city has one of the largest colonies of foreigners (mostly American and Canadian) of any city in the world.

The Tapatios (the name for the locals) are proud of their beautiful city and eager to introduce you to its beauty and charm. The museums, art centers, the Degollado Theater, the beautiful city parks, churches and exciting markets will fill your days with sights and sounds of Mexico that you will never forget!

Nowadays, the metropolitan area of Guadalajara is the biggest center of production and distribution of craftsmanship in Mexico, and probably in the world.

As all the Mexican cities , Guadalajara’s vital area is its Historical Center, which shelters the most important civil and religious buildings. This area is formed by four plazas that are placed in a Latin cross form around the cathedral and its 14 blocks of original gates have been increased to thirty including the ones from the enormous Plaza Tapatia, which is now the Historical Center’s nucleus of attraction. A typical way of looking over the city is to ride on an antique and famous "calandria" (horse drawn carriages) that one can get on in front of the Regional Museum, which is by the Cathedral and the Plaza de los Mariachis.

Without a doubt, the combination of the exceptional climate, the natural beauty of the city and the hospitality of the people, have made Guadalajara a center of great artistic creativity and enormous cultural activity, as well as the proliferation of craftsmanship, popular arts, and the traditional and typical "charreadas" and "jaripeos" with strong Mexican flavour, make of this city an intellectual, artistic and cultural center of primary magnitude in the country.

Another attraction for the tourist is the commerce. There is no doubt that shopping in this city is a pleasant adventure which should not be missed. This is due to the enormous commercial development in this area that allows a huge offer of articles and services, and the convenient placement of its commercial centers.

Three places exist in the city’s Historical Center that commemorate Guadalajara's foundation. The first one is the "Friso de los Fundadores", which represents the possession of the Valle de Atemajac on February 14, 1542. The second one is a Commemorative Plaque, placed where the new city's first government took place. The third one is a sculpture group that demonstrates the Shieldand Decrees, expedited by Carlos V in 1531 to found the city.

The Market San Juan de Dios is also known as the "Libertad". This huge market in downtown Guadalajara is really a shoppers dream! If you love Mexican handicrafts, household goods, food, music and people... this is a place to spend the whole day. You can buy huaraches (the Mexican sandals with tire treads for soles), bird cages (plus birds), food, paper flowers, embroidered clothes, guitars, hats, leather purses, furniture, miniatures and the list goes on!! There is a huge food section that will dazzle you with its colours and aromas! Walk through the restaurant section to see what the typical Mexicano has for a meal - just remember to smile and not roll your eyes. And to top it off there is even a section for "witchcraft" where you can buy dried hummingbirds to stick in your bra for good luck! Truly and adventurous place to explore!

Guadalajara is also the birthplace of the mariachi. Be sure to catch a show by the charismatic musicians on a Friday night in the Hotel Frances where flamboyantly dressed locals sway to favourites like Las Mananitas. The hotel's ancient bird-cage elevator is also a must-see, as are the cats that wander the hallways.

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