Guadalajara is known as the Pearl of the West or the City of Roses. For many years, it was considered a stopover on the way to other places. Over the last few decades, however, it has become a popular tourist destination in its own right—modern and majestic—in western Mexico. The capital of the state of Jalisco, birthplace of tequila and mariachi music, the city has a traditional, provincial town flavour while retaining the traits of a modern metropolis of over two million people. The most beautiful area in the city undoubtedly is the Centro Histórico (Historic Centre), especially the Plaza Tapatía. A journey through history begins at the
Guadalajara is a beautiful tourist destination, bustling centre for international business and a gateway between southern and northern Mexico. Accommodating the flourishing tourist industry, the great number of events organized annually and great population of the city, there are around 300 hotels spanning all categories from luxury suites to simple, affordable rooms. Occupancy rate for most of the year is between 75 and 95 percent. A large concentration of hotels is found around Expo-Guadalajara. This impressive convention centre hosts a great number of important national and international events, including the annual Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair) and Expo-Venta, (Sales Expo). Hotels in the vicinity include the Guadalajara Plaza Expo, Presidente Intercontinental, Hotel Vista Plaza del Sol and the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza—with one of the city's best restaurants, the Jacarandas. Along López Mateos—one of the city's main avenues—a diverse array of hotels can be found offering a wide range of services and rates, including the Fiesta Americana; Quinta Real, nestled in scenic gardens with excellent restaurants; and the Holiday Inn Select. The beautiful Camino Real boasts the category of Gran Turismo affording comfort, lush gardens and an excellent eatery, Aquellos Tiempos. It is located on Avenida Vallarta in front of the Chamber of Commerce, close to shopping. Another outstanding hotel is El Tapatío, situated on the road to Chapala. For those who prefer proximity to the airport, the Holiday Inn CasaGrande is a good choice.
Touring the Historic Centre
Touring the Centro Histórico of Guadalajara is a unique experience, opening the senses to a world of beauty, tradition and artistic endeavours from colonial days. Plazas, gardens, buildings and streets speak of the 450-year old history of the city. The Plaza de Armas, located at the cross layout of plazas at the centre of the city, is ideal to begin a tour. Comprised of magnificent landscaping, it is dotted with ornate park benches and an elaborate open pavilion. By day it is peopled with the elderly and young, feeding the pigeons, while the evening air is filled with musical notes from the municipal band. The Palacio de Gobierno is located at the far end of the Plaza. This impressive, inherently Spanish churrigueresco baroque-style palace occupies an entire city block. According to popular lore, the hole on the face of the facade's clock is the result of a bullet fired by Francisco "Pancho" Villa during the revolution. Upon entering the palace through archways of the inner courtyard there is a mural of the Father of Independence, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla painted by the renowned José Clemente Orozco. Some of the inner rooms are open to the public, including the first chamber of the nation's Congress. Upon leaving the palace, cross over toward the Avenida Alcalde, where the Catedral Metropolitana is situated, towards the right. This veritable city icon is an exemplary mix of influence on Spanish architecture from the gothic, baroque and Moorish to the neo-classic. Its steep turrets evoke the ever present calla lillies, here inverted and graced with yellow mosaic. Facing the Catedral, across the Avenida Alcalde, is the Plaza Guadalajara, upon which the Palacio Municipal—the seat of government—is located. Murals by the renowned painter, Gabriel Flores are found inside. Once departing from the Palacio Municipal, walk left and upon crossing Avenida Hidalgo, the Rotonda de los Hombre Ilustres (The Circle of Illustrious Men) stands proudly. Sculptures of some of the most notable men and women in the sciences, politics, economics and arts of Jalisco represent those buried here. Along the Calle Liceo, which faces the monument, the Museo Regional de Guadalajara is found. Leaving the museum, again along Avenida Hidalgo, the Palacio Legislativo is situated—on the Plaza de la Liberación. The Cathedral can be seen on one side and the Teatro Degollado on the other. The Palacio de Justicia is situated one block over, and further along, the temple of Santa María de Gracia, where the first church of the city stood.
The Museo de Cera (Wax Museum) is situated on Calle Morales after crossing Avenida Hidalgo, past the Teatro Degollado. Rent a Calandria (horse-drawn carriage) to get around the area. The driver will usually give a colourful chat on the surrounding sights.
Tour of Modern Guadalajara
Discover the Avenida Vallarta, from the centre towards the outer rim, where the Fuente de Minerva stands. This tree-lined walk is one of the most scenic in the city for the 19th-century mansions situated along the avenue. Start off at the neo-gothic Templo Expiatorio which stands in sharp contrast to the modern lines of the rector's offices at the Universidad de Guadalajara. Alongside is the ancient building of the university's astronomical observatory housing the "Paraninfo," José Clemente Orozco's mural to the sciences and education. Continuing down Vallarta, a huge elephant stands, sculpted and framed by one of the modern buildings of the cityscape. This is the Centro Magno—the most modern commercial plaza of the city. Los Arcos (The Arches) stand magnificently at what was for many years, the main entry into the city, facing the impressive Minerva square. A statue by José Clemente Orozco is nestled inside the small plaza to the left of Los Arcos, and across the plaza towards Calle Aurelio Aceves, the Casa-Museo José Clemente Orozco is located, for an in-depth look into the work of the muralist.
Tour of the Plaza Tapatía
Guadalajara is a bridge between modernity and tradition. When touring the Plaza Tapatía, observe the details, to allow for a deeper understanding of the special character of this city. Beside the natural attraction of the plaza, a stroll along here is an excellent chance to understand the popular customs of the Tapatíos (residents of Guadalajara). Begin the tour at the Mercado Libertad, also known as San Juan de Dios, it is one of the largest markets in Latin America—around 40,000 square metres in scope. Facing the market is the Templo de San Juan de Dios along with the Plaza de los Mariachi where groups gather to play music of the very Mexican kind. Crossing the pedestrian walk, is the Plaza Tapatía again, where the Instituto Cultural Cabañas stands. This building, considered Patrimony of Humanity should be seen, not only for its beauty but also for the amazing murals by José Orozco Clemente painted therein—including "Hombre de Fuego" (Man of Fire). The Escudo de Armas is across the Plaza de Tapatía along with a bas-relief depicting the city's founding. The Casa de Turismo, which is headquarters for the Secretary of Tourism for the State is located here on the Callejón del Diablo (Devil's Alley) signalled by four naked boys sculpted in a fountain. Continue along here to reach Teatro Degollado, where upon the Instituto Cultural Cabañas appears once more ahead. Here is a lovely spot for an afternoon beer or bite to eat out of doors on the terrazas of the Sombrillas del Hospicio.
Zapapon is the city of corn, par excellence, of the state of Jalisco, and the home of the Virgen de Zapopan, Patron Saint of the Jaliscienses (Jalisco residents). She is made from the cob and husks of corn and presides over this very religious community who equally venerate her and the maize. To begin this tour, head down the Avenida Prolongación Américas to the Municipal seat at the arched entry, a beautiful colonial structure that welcomes worshippers on their October pilgrimage to this city, along with military fanfare. In the Plaza de las Américas, beautiful fountains and ornate iron park benches embellish the grounds crowned by an open gazebo with the Basílica de Zapopan as a stunning backdrop. The temple dates from 1690 and was built to honour the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción (Virgin of the Immaculate Conception), known today as the Virgen de Zapopan. The atrium houses two sculptures of Popes, contrasting with the tiny figure of the Virgin at the altar. Small as she is, she nevertheless calls attention for the uncommon garments she wears and her military decoration as General. To the right of the Cathedral, stands the Museo de Arte Huichol, where these native people's arts can be appreciated, and handicrafts can be purchased. There is a beautiful neo-colonial structure on the Avenida Hidalgo, which is the Palacio Municipal de Zapopan, housing excellent Tapatía murals by various muralists, including Guillermo Chávez Vega.
With more than 450 years of history and as capital of the state of Jalisco—the fourth largest in population and one of the three most prosperous in the country—Guadalajara is called the Perla de Occidente (Pearl of the West). There is an infinite amount of entertainment options available and affords wonderful Mariachi as a main attraction while dining or during friendly chat over cocktails. One restaurant which offers Mariachi music is El Bariachi.
An aspect, which stands out in the city, is the great amount of plazas and shopping areas—more than 60—along with outdoor spaces and covered galleries for window shopping. Some outstanding commercial centres include Plaza del Sol, Plaza México and Centro Magno. The area's excellent climate allows for outdoor activities year-round, such as the Zoológico Guadalajara and a bite to eat in one of the sidewalk cafés and restaurants, known as terrazas, which dot the city. The nightlife promises an entertaining evening in one of the variety of bars and clubs. There is no lack of billiard halls—being a favourite pastime—where beer and other drinks are served while shooting pool or playing other parlour games.