Over time, Guanajuato became a city of rituals.
We have them for all tastes. Those who, like us, have recently entered there, begin by surrendering to the ascent-pilgrimage to the Cerro del Pipila.
The first of the ascents, we do it in the panoramic funicular, departing from the back of Teatro Juárez. We had already circled the avenues, streets and alleys, from the almost edge of the Jardin El Contador to the central and neuralgic Jardin La Unión.
As the small cabin climbs the western slope, it reveals something different: the stratification of the houses of Guanajuato, the bright but harmonious shape as it was molded to the capricious relief of the Sierra de San Gregorio, located in an area of the center of the country that Mexicans know it as Bajio.
This, despite being above 2000m altitude.
The Dazzling Multicolor Casario de Guanajuato
The change in perspective reveals how its squares and urban veins are more intricate than they appear.
It exposes us to successive levels of undulating houses, homes above homes, buildings and more buildings perched, vying for the parched slopes.
The Purépecha Indians who inhabited this heart of Mexico, upon the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, knew it for quanax huato, translatable as frog hill(s). The Europeans adjusted both the phonics and the spelling.
The cabin leans against your dock. We walked through a few interior corridors. Then, others, exterior, aimed at the apex of the viewpoint.
When we conquered it, the last light of day gilded high and fortunate sections, sometimes of the houses, sometimes of the arid slopes.
We leaned over the balcony.
We looked from one end of the heights of the valley to the other, looking for the pockets of color that the shadow spared.
Meanwhile, a crowd swelled which the dusk made festive. Mexican outsiders and Gringos they gave themselves to selfies endless, with the scenery in the background.
El Pípila, the Hero of the Mexican Independence of Guanajuato
And to others that framed the towering statue of Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, El Pípila.
El Pípila is, par excellence, the independence hero of the city. At a time when the movement's leader and father of the Mexican homeland Miguel Hidalgo was opening the hostilities against the Spanish Crown and the Loyalists, the latter were fortified in a grain silo.
Hidalgo's forces achieved the famous Siege of Alhondiga.
However, the loyalists shot back anyone who approached the building. So it was, until the miner El Pípila tied a stone slab to his back.
Protected at the height, he crept to the entrance with a tar jar and a torch and set fire to the wooden doors of Alhondiga. The collapse of the doors paved the way for the conquest of the building, the city and the independence of Mexico.
El Pípila and the courage he showed are immortalized in the large stone statue, adorned with the saying “aun hay other garlics for burning".
Around the monument, divided between dozens of stalls, different fires and smoke abounded.
The End of Day Party at Cerro del Pípila
Instead of revolution, those of Mexican gastronomy, of its snacks and others, chapulines (locusts) fried with lemon and spicy, champurrados e atole (fermented corn drinks) flavored with marzipan, peanuts and others.
And the most banal tacos, foreigners and burritos, pushed with lively conversation and the unavoidable micheladas.
We wait for the win of the twilight. We went down, on foot, with no definite direction.
To the gaudy and exuberant historic center demarcated by the Basilica of Nª Srª de Guanajuato, the Juárez Theater and the University.
The affinity we feel with Lisbon when admiring the house amphitheater from the viewpoint, we feel it again when we get lost in the alleys and alleys, aware that, as long as the path remains descending and steep, it would end up in the smooth center of the city. .
When we arrive at the sort of trimmed triangle at Jardin La Unión, the party do El Pipila Hill has an extension.
Musicians mariachis in glossy black and yellow shirts they play popular themes from table to table, confident in the generous gratifications of spectators.
Street artists performed different acts.
The Students, the Student Women and the Tunas of Guanajuato
Guanajuato is, at the same time, one of the main academic cities in Mexico, comparable to Coimbra.
It houses almost thirty-two thousand students who follow the motto “the truth will make them free” and one of the most peculiar and impressive central university buildings in the world. face of the earth.
There we stopped to appreciate a lengthy delivery of diplomas.
In the same street, young members of the students, press tickets for their famous callejoneadas.
There are tourist, musical, comical, picturesque tours in which the hosts guide the participants and entertain them by playing an array of instruments and a little bit of everything.
Nearby, we come across Sebastian, dressed in traditional attire and in the company of his father José Manuel. Invite us in.
For a house overflowing with trophies, gowns, cassocks, instruments, diplomas, photos of tuna exhibitions in other countries, an endless number of academic items.
“We are in the process of cleaning up, don't take this the wrong way”, they confess. “If all goes well, this chaos will give rise to the Student Museum of Guanajuato.
The future museum is located next to another emblematic place in the city, also frequented by the callejoneadas.
The Sanctuary to the Concurrent Love of the Callejon del Beso
O alley of the kiss it's a tight alley, just 68cm wide.
He became famous for the forbidden passion of a couple, Ana and Carlos, who their respective families forbade to see each other.
Gifted with the proximity of their balconies, Ana and Carlos met and kissed often. Until Ana's father caught them in the middle of a kiss and killed his daughter with a dagger in the heart.
Today the alley of the kiss it is seen as a sanctuary of love.
For much of the day, visitors line up there to photograph themselves kissing.
And yet, in its genesis, Guanajuato had little time for romance and feelings.
Guanajuato and the Endless Wealth in Silver and Gold
The city grew out of silver and gold. It improved from the record-breaking wealth that the region hid in hyperbolic veins, deposited on the slopes.
When the Spaniards arrived, in 1540, the natives were already exploring them without difficulty. Narratives that reached the invaders asserted that the natives found nuggets of gold on the surface of the ground.
Mineral deposits proved so rich that conquerors rushed to recruit defenses and erect forts.
The objective was to repel the attacks of the fierce Chichimeca natives to the newly named post of Real de Minas de Guanajuato, shortly afterwards, promoted to the city of Santa Fé de Real de Minas de Guanajuato.
News of the abundance of gold and silver traveled through Mexico. Soon, they arrived in Spain. Immigrants from Spain, Creoles, mestizo and native workers made the city grow.
With more hands to prospect, other veins were found and new mines opened.
Mines and More Mines Around a Wealthy City
San Barnabé was followed by Raias. Certain mines originated respective neighborhoods: Cata, La Pastita, San Luisito and Valenciana.
The pioneer mine, that of San Barnabé, produced almost half a millennium, until 1928.
Others, more recent, have proven even more profitable and continue to generate wealth.
This is the case of Valenciana, operational from 1774 and which, until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, produced two thirds of the world's silver.
On one of the days dedicated to Guanajuato, we visited it. Contrary to expectations, the short trip is made up the slopes, towards the northern top of the city, where the houses almost touch the sky.
We passed majestic churches, commissioned with funding from the families that owned the mines, in gratitude to the divine for their good fortune.
Here, the church stands out. churrigueresque (Mexican Baroque style) of La Valenciana, built in the XNUMXth century next to the opening of the homonymous mine.
With its right tower still unfinished, unlike the walls and the bastion that, further down, made it possible to defend the wealth from the bandits.
We descend to a depth of 70m from one of the wells. There we felt the claustrophobic atmosphere in which around 3500 indigenous people were kept working, sometimes for more than fifteen hours a day.
As explained by the guide Edgar, precious metal veins and open mines appeared all over the place.
Not all excavations in the city were made for the direct reason of gold and silver.
Guanajuato, the City of Tunnels
Guanajuato is based on an extensive and intricate network of old tunnels, with almost 9 km, if you add the lengths of El Pípila, El Minero, La Galereña and the rest.
These tunnels were opened for a primary reason: the fulminant rainy season in these parts of Mexico and the floods generated by the thickening of the Guanajuato River.
They form a strange underworld that, in spaces, opens up to the sky and from which houses and buildings with post-colonial legos look emerge again. Guanajuato has all these dimensions and colors.
In almost five hundred years of history and of a wealthy colonization, it hides many more.