By Pat Cordes
Zacatecas, once a major silver mining town, was at one time the cultural center of the entire Northwest. As a result there are some incredible
tourist attractions here in a town that is not a major tourist destination and is seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Guided tours are available at Mina El Eden, where you go into the mine shafts in a mining cart.
There is even a nightclub in the mines, open only late at night on weekends.
Another major attraction is the teleférico (aerial cable car) which runs across the city to the Cerro de la Bufa---a historic hill overlooking the city.
There is a church up there, and a museum and several statues commemorating the Mexican Revolution.
The museums are not to be missed. The Pedro Coronel Museum has some works of art from Europe including a Picasso and a Miró. It houses rooms for African art, Tibetian Buddhas and even a mummy. What a surprise to see a mummy in this colonial Mexican city! Pedro Coronel was a Zacatecas-born artist who spent many years living in Europe collecting art, which he later donated to the city for this museum. Museo Rafael Coronel is housed in a picturesque old monastery and has over 3,000 masks and puppets. In addition to this there are two modern art museums; one has a section of large paintings that are about 18 feet tall.
The colonial town was built in a valley, and as it grew it expanded into another valley. This left the old part intact and when you walk around there you feel like you are in Europe. Due to its remote location, there is not a lot of traffic or pollution. As you wander around you will find many noteworthy historical landmarks. The cathedral is exceptional. It is in pink sandstone and is a fine example of churrigueresque architecture.
The Hotel Quinta Real (www.quintareal.com/zacatecas),
built around an old bullring, is worth a visit even if you are not staying there. Across from Parque Ramón López Velarde,
Restaurant La Garufa has an Argentinean grill where you order your dinner by the kilo---a great place for meat eaters!