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Guadalajara: Jalisco, Mexico!

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Guadalajara, MX - Click to Enlarge!

Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, has long been among the most important of Mexican cities economically and politically.  Recently, it has come to be a favorite location for foreign vacationers and retirees.

Click for Guadalajara, Mexico Forecast

~ The Heart of Guadalajara ~

Guadalajara, Mexico celebrated its 450th anniversary in 1992.  Throughout the centuries, the city has become rich in history, and to this day, many of the most historic and beautiful of Guadalajara's buildings still stand as reminders of the significance Guadalajara has had and will continue to have on Mexico.

People flock to Guadalajara (pop. 3.5 million, elevate 5,214 feet, 1,589 meters) for the same reason that Californians frequently go to Los Angeles: to shop and choose from big selections at correspondingly small prices.

But that's only part of the fascinationGuadalajara are calling themselves, uniquely, “Tapatíos”Their city is renowned as the “most Mexican” of cities.  A host of visitors, both foreign and Mexican, come to Guadalajara to bask in its mild, spring like sunshine, savor its music, and admire its grand monuments.

After the 1910-17 revolution, Guadalajara's growth far outpaced the country in general.  From a population of around 100,000 in 1900, Guadalajara grew to more than three million by 2000.  People were drawn from the countryside by jobs in a thousand new factories, making everything from textiles and shoes to silicon chips and soda pop.

Handicraft manufacture, always important in Guadalajara, zoomed during the 1960s when waves of jet-riding tourists came, saw and bought mountains of blown glass, leather, pottery, and metal finery.

During the 1980s, Guadalajara put on a new face while at the same time preserving the best part of its old downtown.  An urban-renewal plan of visionary proportions created Plaza Tapatía - acres of shops, restaurants, and offices beside fountain - studded malls - incorporating Guadalajara's venerable theaters, churches, museums, and government buildings into a single grand open space.

Guadalajara, Mexico: aerial view!
~ Guadalajara, Mexico: Aerial View ~

Outside, at the eastern end of the plaza, rises the timeless silhouette of the Teatro Degollado.  The theater's classic, column facade climaxes in an epic marble frieze, depicting the allegory of Apollo and the nine muses.  Inside, the Degollado's resplendent grand salon is said to rival the gilded refinement of Milan's renowned La Scale.  Overhead, its ceiling glows with Gerardo Suárez's panorama of canto IV of Dante's Divine Comedy, complete with its immortal cast-Julius Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Saladin- and the robed and wreathed author himself in the middle.  Named for the millionaire Governor Degollado who financed its construction, the theater opened with appropriate fanfare on September 13, 1866, with a production of Lucia de Lammermoor, starring Angela Peralta, the renowned “Mexican Nightingale”An ever-changing menu of artists still graces the Degollado's stage.  These include an excellent local folkloric ballet troupe every Sunday morning; tel. 33-3614-4773 for info.

Just to the north of (on the left as you face) the Teatro Degollado, stands the austere silhouette of the Templo de Santa María de Gracia, Guadalajara's original (1549-1618) cathedral.  The present building, initiated in 1661, was completed about a century later.

Walk behind the Degollado, where a modern bronze frieze, the Frisa de Los Fundadores, decorates its back side.  Appropriately, a mere two blocks from the spot where the city was founded, the 68- foot sculpture shows Guadalajara's cofounders facing each other on opposite sides of a big tree.  Governor Cristóbal de Oñate strikes the tree with his sword, while Doña Beátriz de Hernández holds a fighting cock, symbolizing her gritty determination (and that of dozens of fellow settlers) that Guadalajara's location should remain put.

~ Guadalajara, Mexico ~
Guadalajara / HistoryAttractions

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