|Guadalajara is known as the 'Perla de
Occidente' the Pearl of the West- or 'La Ciudad de las Rosas' the City of
Roses-. For many years it was considered as a thoroughfare city for the
travellers. During the last decades, Guadalajara has became a very
touristy city and an obliged visit in West of the country.
Being the capital of the state of Jalisco, home of tequila and mariachi music, Guadalajara is a city with a nice flavour of province and tradition, but including all the features of a big metropolis, having more than 6 million people.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Guadalajara, which make it the beautiful place it is, is the fact that is a green city, with many trees and plants. Another factor for its beauty is that Guadalajara's old buildings have been conserved, and its architectural tradition has followed through with their look. This is why you will thankfully not see many tall buildings; this aspect certainly makes it a world apart from the other large cities in Mexico.
The most beautiful area in the city, without a doubt, is the historical downtown or Centro Histórico, mainly the Plaza Tapatia. To fully enjoy this area, you should start out with the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cross of Plazas that surrounds it. Each one of the plazas has particular features that make them very beautiful in their very own way. After that you can look at the Degollado Theatre. If you keep walking you will find beautiful buildings and plazas, the Callejón del Diablo ' The Devil's Alley- and some outside coffee places and restaurants. When you are almost in the middle of the Plaza Tapatía, you will see a very long water mirror with some fountains, which is quite stunning. At the end of it, you will be able to see the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. If you get out of the Plaza around this area, you will get to the Mercado Libertad, an excellent place to buy cheap souvenirs and handcrafted products. Walking a little further you will find the Plaza de los Mariachis, a good spot to sit down, rest, have a snack and listen to mariachi music. While you are downtown, one of the funnest things to do is to take a ride on a Calandria, which are small carriages pulled by horses that will take you around the area. You should talk with the driver, it is a good way to know more about the local culture.
Another beautiful and interesting area of Guadalajara is the Zona Rosa, nickname given to Chapultepec Avenue. Formerly it was called La Fayette; today it's a beautiful street full of trees, with a central reservation. Along this avenue you can find many coffee places, bars, restaurants and stores. As you walk through Chapultepec, you can admire several monuments and squares. Since you are on this avenue, you should stop to have a coffee at the Café Azteca, a very traditional place. At the end of the Zona Rosa, there is a big area of fabric stores; here you can find any type of material, and it is, unsurprisingly, a favourite spot for future brides.
Maybey the most attractive area of the city is Avenida Vallarta. This beautiful and green street that ends at Los Arcos and La Minerva is filled with attractions. One of the most interesting things in there, are the old colonial mansions built along the avenue, which are gorgeous. During the Colonial period this was one of the favourite areas of the upper classes. One of these mansions is today the Casa de la Cultura Jalisciense. Also in Vallarta you can find many restaurants, outside coffee places and bars like La Charla; several boutiques and night clubs like Lado B or La Marcha. A couple of year ago the Centro Magno was built on this avenue; it is the most modern shopping mall in the city, full of boutiques, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. Among these places we find the Hard Rock Café and El Arca.
Avenida López Mateos is the road that connects Guadalajara's North with its South; is one of the most important streets in the city, and here you can get to see the city's most modern features. López Mateos is basically a commercial avenue; on it you can find Plaza del Sol, a traditional shopping mall, but it is also the ideal place to look for a bar or restaurant.
The Zapopan area is characterised for being the home of the Basílica de la Virgen de Zapopan. It is a very nice area, full of plazas and gardens, great to take a walk here; you can visit the Huichol Art Museum and the Plaza de las Américas. If you are in Zapopan, the Hostería del Ángel is highly recommended for a meal, it is a great restaurant that serves good wine and Spanish tapas.
Tlaquepaque is a pottery and handicrafts area; crowded with arts and crafts stores. You can find anything here, from a small ashtray to a large sculpture. In the centre of Tlaquepaque is El Parian, an area full of bars and restaurants, where, while you enjoy traditional snacks, you can hear trios, mariachi or marimba music. One of the most attractive places in Tlaquepque is the Galería Sergio Bustamante, it offers very original, modern craftsmanship, which comes complete with a certification of authenticity. A very good restaurant in the area is the Abajeño Campestre, a big garden where you can eat exquisite Mexican food, listen to mariachis and see folkloric dances.
Tonalá is another pottery producing area, less beautiful than Tlaquepaque, but equally attractive. In Tonalá you can get into the factories, and see how the people are working. You can learn about glass blowing, which is spectacular. At Tonalá you can find very cheap second hand products, which have such a small defect that you can't even notice it.
Chapalita, although not a very commercial area, is nevertheless an interesting part of the city. During the 40's and 50's it was the residential area of the upper classes. Nowadays it's a pleasant area, where you will find cafés like Greta or the Dali Café; as well as the beautiful Glorieta Chapalita. Walking through Chapalita, is a good way to get to know the daily life of the middle classes from Guadalajara.
Guadalajara is a city full of attractions; the visitor will enjoy its cosmopolitan atmosphere which has not forgotten its rural traditions and customs. Don't forget this is the city where you can taste the best tequila in the world. So enjoy.