Guadalajara, 2nd day
The day after was a beautiful day, and plan was to go see the historical sites in the Centro Historico, and the local market, and have some local food. Followed a walking tour I found on the web.
So started at the Plaza de Armas. This is a large square with the ironwork bandstand/Gazebo and the square is bordered by the grand Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) on one side and the Cathedral on another side.
The Palacio is the seat of the State (of Jalisco) Government. Entry is free to anyone; no body searches or metal detectors here. Everybody was freely allowed to walk around these State offices. Nice old building built in the 1790. As you climb the stairs to the 2nd floor, there is a massive mural on the celling of Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexican Independence. The mural shows Hidalgo fighting off the forces of slavery and oppression with a fiery torch. Very impressive. We also got to see the State Congress chamber (refreshingly no metal detectors, no body frisking), where the senators debate. There was another ceiling mural here depicting the Hidalgo signing the decree abolishing slavery. See pics.
Next was the cathedral. Once again, built 1618, and rebuilt in 1848 after an earthquake demolished it. The architecture is a mix of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclassical. The interior has three chapels which all had a number of people stopping in to pray during the day, for a few minutes.
Then came the Plaza Guadalajara on the other side of the cathedral, and also bordered by the City/Municipal offices. At the center of the square there is a circular fountain in the shape of an oyster with rose petals, alluding to the two nicknames of Guadalajara, “City of Roses” and “Pearl of the West”. The Municipal building was busier than the Palacio and also had free access. Met a City official who gave us some background about the city and the surrounding area (in good English). Went to see if we could meet the Mayor, but he had a long line of people waiting for him (& on real business). So gave up. This Municipal Palace also had nice large mural paintings. Seems like Guadalajaran’s like murals.
Next came the Plaza de la Rotonda. This is a shaded green space with the monument Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, (Rotunda of the Illustrious People of Jalisco) honoring notable people from the state of Jalisco who distinguished themselves in arts, science, education, human rights, law, and politics. There are 25 statues here surrounding this Plaza, and in the center are urns holding the cremated remains of some of the people honored here.
Behind this Plaza is a huge square called the Plaza de la Liberacion (Liberation Square), also nicknamed La Plaza de Dos Copas (Two Cups Plaza) for its two fountains. There is a nice statue of Hidalgo here breaking the chains of slavery. At the opposite end from the Cathedral, is the impressive Teatro Degollado, built in 1850’s. This is where the Jalisco Philharmonic orchestra plays, and it is also used for plays, opera’s etc.
By this time, we were getting tired, so decided to hear to the market and see what that had to offer. This market is called the Mercado Libertad (Liberty Market) or the Mercado de San Juan de Dios because of its location in the Barrio San Juan de Dios (San Juan de Dios neighborhood). This is one of the largest traditional markets in Mexico, with three different levels, and over 2600 stalls. (it’s supposed to be the largest market in Latin America, all 3 floors of it). Here, we found a huge selection of goods including handicrafts, clothes, shoes, flowers, produce, leather goods, traditional candies, electronics, household items, and fruit/vegetable stalls. After eating a lot of fruit (jackfruit, fresh coconut water, mangos, passion fruit, Guava etc), we went past the vegetable tall and went upstairs. The whole 2nd floor of this huge place is full of small restaurants/eateries. Had to have the fresh fruit juices here (papaya, carrot, mango etc) and then had to sample some of the local tacos (rey). Very nice.
After this market, we went and got onto the local tram (very modern) that took us to the end of the line, where we went to see the scenic gorge just at the outskirts of the City. Very nice and impressive, clean
After a rest back at the hotel, went to look for the local dish called Birria for dinner. Went to a small restaurant called Birriería las Nueve Esquinas, which was about 6 blocks from our hotel. Birria is young goat meat cooked in a spicy sauce seasoned with chili peppers, ginger, cumin, black pepper, oregano and cloves. The traditional way of preparing birria is to pit roast the meat and spices wrapped in maguey leaves. It was served in bowls along with minced onion, limes and tortillas. The meat was very tasty and tender. Ate at the outdoor seating on a small local square; wonderful end to a great but tiring day.