Walking Tours of Zacatecas – An Excerpt

25 Jan
Download all eight "Walking Tour" books from Amazon.com; Barnes and Noble.com; or Kobo.com. search William J. Conaway.

Download all eight “Walking Tour” books from Amazon.com; Barnes and Noble.com; or Kobo.com. search William J. Conaway.

An Excerpt from my, “Walking Tours of Zacatecas”

Walking Tours of Zacatecas
Copyright William J. Conaway, 2000 Derechos Reservados

Getting There
Your ordinary guide book, perhaps a “Frommer’s,” can give you directions for getting to Zacatecas and also give you a list of the four and five star hotels there, but for the purpose of my guide I suggest you take a bus to the city and a taxi to the Centro Histórico. There are a few small, “no star” hotels located in XIX century buildings with very low rates. There are even a couple of three or four-star hotels to choose from, even a Howard Johnsons, the important thing is, you’re right in the heart of HISTORY.

I recommend the Hostal del Angel, Primero de Mayo #211, which offers clean rooms with bath, a free washing machine, and a communal kitchen. Practically next door is La Oficina Cantina, a typical Mexican man’s saloon. As it turns out, my favorite watering hole in Zacatecas.

Zacatecas is the capital of the state of the same name, with all of the necessary government offices, and boasts a major university with an excellent school of mining. The city is situated at 8,200 feet of altitude, and is hilly so if you are not used to this altitude, you will get winded. Just take your time and rest frequently. There are approximately 160,000 inhabitants within the city limits.

The state got its name from the abundance of Zacate trees that were found here. Even the nomadic Indian tribe that controlled this area were named the Zacatecans. Agriculture, a minor industry, consists mainly of cattle ranching in the south and west of the state with goat-herding in the north. Mining continues to be the most important occupation in the State with mines producing gold, silver, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, tin and mercury.

So abundant were its precious metals that Zacatecas was named Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de las Zacatecas by King Felipe II, in 1585, receiving its own coat of arms in 1588. The Latin words at the bottom of the coat of arms translate, “Work Conquers All.”

The region surrounding the city of Zacatecas is bleak. It’s semi-arid to downright parched, and the mountains are low and unassuming. Vegetation is sparse and consists of cacti and huizache bushes.

The city is situated in a narrow valley, flanked on all sides with mountains and rolling hills. The valley itself is 7,800 feet above sea level. The altitude keeps the temperature down and abundant water was found in wells. The soil is poor in almost the entire State, except for a few areas, and the inhabitants have to depend on food mostly from the nearby Bajío region.

Zacatecas’ patron is la Virgen del Patrocinio, the Guardian Virgin. (This Virgin is a depiction of the one present at the last breath of Christ. A symbol of a Catholic Church cult.) An important icon of her is in the chapel on La Bufa mountain. Her fiesta is held on September 8, the birthday of the Virgin Mary.

The city of Zacatecas, very much like that of Guanajuato and Taxco, is a ciudad Toledano, a city similar to Toledo, Spain. Its charming, narrow streets and alleys wind around and up into the hills.

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