We have landed in our winter headquarters, and since this is a new location for us (still Guanajuato – but in Valenciana, not Guanajuato City) I thought an afternoon on foot would be a good way to begin.
Our back door leads to a road taking me downhill, past the University of Guanajuato’s Center for Mathematical Investigations (red building on the left).
The right side of the road is a steep ravine, but from the edge there are great views of the ruins of the Hacienda de Guadalupe (part of the ownership structure related to the Guadalupe Mine). Imagine what this might have looked like in it’s heyday!
As I got to the bottom of the road (but by no means the bottom of the mountain) I came upon a building site and was reminded of my father-in law, Floyd. He and his wife, Ethel, spent many years as snowbirds in Mexico; and he would joke that it was important to hang around for a good period of time so you could figure out if they were putting something up or taking something down. So true.
Less than 10 minutes from the house I found myself at a bit of a commercial space. (I am being optimistic in this description as business areas spring up in the oddest of places.) The mining museum seemed to be quite a popular stop. Guanajuato is a destination site for Mexican holiday travel, and on the day I went walking the area was filled with tourist vans. History tidbit: The mine contained both silver and gold, and during its peak years (early 1800s) this mine produced 60% of the world’s silver. The mineral resources were used to finance Spain’s colonial expansion efforts.
Beautiful stonework wall that surrounds the museum.
Across the street from the museum are a number of shops – the usual stuff: jewelry, religious artifacts, tourist temptations. But the thing that Valenciana seems to have lots of are candy stores.
This carousel has dulces tipico – caramel figures made to look like like mummies. There is a long story that goes with this and you can read about it at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummies_of_Guanajuato The short version: the bodies, likely buried during a cholera outbreak, underwent natural mummification processes and when they were dug up (due to a newly imposed tax on perpetual internment) they were relocated to a museum. Yes, we visited the museum – years ago, and once was enough. However, the mummies are one of the top tourist attractions. Oh – The caramel candy does come in other forms and is quite delicious.
Further on down the line of shops was a very relaxed street dog doing his thing.
At the end of the line of shops was a small ceramics studio. Pots had just been set outdoors for drying.
And directly across the road from the drying tables were mama goat and her two young ones. Remember what I said about business areas in odd places? This gives a whole new meaning to mixed-use zoning.
After the visit with the goats I headed in the direction of town. Along the way were a number of lunch counter-type restaurants. We are cautious diners, but have found that most everything we can select here is USA – tummy friendly (water being the exception).
Many of the houses along this street have beautiful metalwork doors. The black wrought iron is very indicative of this part of Mexico.
In the very center of town is La Valenciana Templo. It is an 18th-century Mexican Churrigueresque-style church with an exterior of pink volcanic stone built at the opening of the La Valenciana mine to honor Saint Cayetano for the riches that were found.
The interior is in the shape of a cross with 3 alters – one at the head and two at each end of the crossbar. The gold leaf that covers the alter came from the local mine. Some versions of the building’s history talk about how the church was commissioned by the mine owner and his Spanish colleagues to appease their consciences for taking all of the vast resources out of the earth. Being one of the most dangerous mines, it also claimed its share of indigenous workers. Though an unfortunate commentary, there is no doubt that the overall effect is breathtaking.
Chandeliers made from Valenciana silver adorn the sanctuary.
Across from the Templo is a small square and the place we catch our local bus into town. Just in case we have to wait and are need of a snack there is a CANDY STORE!
Loved that the tickets are First Class. They cost 7 pesos each way – about 35 cents – and we are dropped off just a couple of blocks from the Hidalgo Market in el Centro. Perfecto.
Because I essentially made a big loop, I took another road back to our house and stopped to admire this tiled exterior. Lots of stonework and ceramics everywhere, but this took things to a new level.