Mexico – Jalisco State – Guadalajara – Zona Centro – Stuff to see and do

This was my second time in Guadalajara. On both occasions (in 2006 and 2015) I stayed in the Hotel de Mendoza www.demendoza.com.mx at Calle Venustiano Carranza 16, which is well located for the Zona Centro. It’s not as opulent as it would seem and the wi-fi was problematic on my second visit, but the breakfast was okay.

My favourite place to go in Guadalajara is the Mercado Libertad (aka Mercado San Juan de Dios). With around 3000 vendors, it’s the biggest covered market in South America and the largest multi-product market in the world. Photo ops are plentiful.

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One whole floor is dedicated to small cafes and food stalls.

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I would have loved to eat here but the dubious hygiene and having to work meant I couldn’t take the risk (in 2007 the colleague who preceded me was struck down with stomach problems). Still I enjoyed walking around watching all the food being prepared.

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I was particularly impressed by the goat skulls with whole limes in their eye sockets and chillis for horns! Goat is a very popular meat in Guadalajara and one of the local football teams, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, are known as the Chivas (baby female goats).

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In the fruit and veg section there are mountains of avocados, a plant which originally comes from Mexico. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, that dates to around 10,000 BC. The etymological origin of the name can be traced back to the proto-Aztecan word for ‘testicle’.

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Chillis also originate from Mexico and research shows they were first domesticated 6,000 years ago, again in the regions around Puebla. There are stalls in the market that sell nothing else and have huge displays of them piled high.

The Mirasol (also known as Guajillo when dried) and Arbol varieties were very common.

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Also popular are the Mulato and Ancho (a dried Poblano) which are very similar. I read that Ancho and Mirasol/Guajillo are the most commonly used dried chillis in Mexico.

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Other foodstuffs can be found on other floors. The market is seemingly endless.

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Most of the important civic buildings are also in the Zona Centro, in particular the area known as the Centro Histórico.

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La Catedral Nueva, an unlovely (in my opinion) mix of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclassical architecture, was consecrated in 1618.

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The two towers were rebuilt in the 19th century after an earthquake. The building experienced further structural damage as a result of more earthquakes in 1932, 1957, 1979, 1985, 1995 and 2003.

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Right next door is El Sagrario Metropolitano

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…the forebear of which was the original parish church before the cathedral existed.

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A close neighbour on the Plaza de Armas is the imposing Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco (Jalisco state government building), now a museum. It’s worth popping in to see the murals by Orozco on the main staircase.

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There’s a beautiful old bandstand in front of the palace, in Plaza de Armas.

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Another venerable building is the neoclassical Teatro Degollado located in Plaza de la Liberación, behind the cathedral.

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All these places are a stone’s throw from the Hotel de Mendoza. You can find many of the places mentioned on my Google map.

There are a few nice old residential buildings dotted about as well.

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In terms of things to do, a good day out might be a ride on the Tequila Express. Operated by Ferrocarril Mexicano, it involves a train ride to the nearby town of Tequila and a guided tour around one of the factories. Food is provided and all the tequila you can drink! (not that you have to).

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You can buy tickets in the basement of one of the department stores (ask the hotel reception which one) but you should book as far ahead as you can. They had sold out two days before when I went to enquire, so I never got to go, but perhaps it was for the best!

A detail from the cathedral door…

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Please see my next post for places to eat in Guadalajara.

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