Where is the City of Lights?
Well, that depends upon “which” City of lights you’re trying to find.
Looking close to home here at Lake Chapala the nearest one is nearby Guadalajara, a city bustling with 4.4 million inhabitants and many more if you count the immediately adjacent city of Zapopan.
Guad as it’s affectionately know is home to many Colonial area public building and of course they are very impressive. Many continue in use this very day.
Just as a point of reference othe cities with the distinction of having the designation “City of Lights” include Paris, Brussels, Budapest, Moscow, Rabat and Shanghai.
We only have space here to tell you about some of the colonial buildings, but there are a number of others as well, so if Colonial buildings are your thing … or you’re not sure please read on.
The best way to see these wonderful old structures is to book a tour (see the note below for a great resource for very affordable tours to Guad.)
Wear your walking shoes for best results, but if you’re not good at walking, you can still enjoy much of the beauty from the comfort of your tour car. Here’s a line up of some of what you can see:
Instituto Cultural Cabañas or Hospicio Cabañas:You’ll find it at the end of the large pedestrian mall.
The pedestrian mall has 23 patios, 72 passageways and 106 rooms that house art, a gift shop, workshops, lecture halls and a video viewing room.
The building dates from 1796. It took a reported 300 workmen to completed the structure in 1810 initially as an orphanage.
The building was later used by the Mexican Army during the war for independence with Spain.
Over the years it’s been used as a hospital and an insane asylumamong other things.
This wonderful piece of history can even be rented for special events.
If you like art and not just old buildings it’s a good value to pay the reasonable entrance fee and enter to see the interior which is adorned with murals by world famous muralist Orozco.
But, if you plan to go inside don’t go on Mondays as it’s closed Mondays.
Very close to the Csthedral is El Teatro Degollado.
If you studied world history you probably had to learn the three basic forms of columns, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
The Teatro Degollado is resplendent with 13 of the flourished Corinthian columns. The white marble relief is as beautiful as when it was sculpted almost 150 years ago.
A great way to see the interior is to schedule a trip to the Teatro on a Sunday morning for the Ballet Folkloric dance performance.
A smaller version of this comes to Lake Chapala about once a year to perform at our local aduitorio.
But, even if you can’t find the time to see an event at the Theatro you should still visit the interior. It’s resplendent with paintings, gilt and red velvet curtains. It’s open Tuesday thru Saturday from 12 noon until 2 p.m.
Next is the Guadalajara Cathedral. The Guadalajara's Cathedral is beautiful any way you look at it. Located right in the central core of the city and still in daily use it’s a symbol of Guadalajara and even the taxi’s sport a diagrammatic representation of it.
The formal name is Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady but, also goes by La Catedral de Guadalajara or the Metropolitan Cathedral.
It was built back in 1618 but was destroyed by an 1818 earthquake. The replacement building as seen now was completed in 1858.
Take a few minutes to check inside to at least see the marble and silver main altar, the stained glass, and the organ, which is the largest in all of Mexico.
The organ is still in use to this day for Sunday Mass and special events.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to walk inside respectfully to see the splendor of the beautiful interior.
Side altars hold images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Virgin of Zapopan.
Next, is the state capitol building of Jalisco is as traditional and solid as the state it represents. Be sure to visit the paintings, sculptures, congressional chamber and other bits of wonder spread through the building.
Other historic buildings you should also check out, time permitting are the Palacio de Gobierno (State Building), Palacio Municipal or City Hall at 400 Avenida Hidalgo,and the Uiversity of Guadalajara, (the Original Building).
I was an English as a second language teacher just over 9 years ago and my classes were very near to these old Colonial buildings and I enjoyed many hours of stolling in and around them and I highly recommend you take the time to see at least some of them.
By the way, the area around the original University building still has a number of old homes in the French style. If you have enough time walk around this area as well as the more historic areas above.
Many of these historic homes have now been converted to house various businesses such as upscale restaurants, but still retain their old world splendor. Hope you enjoyed your arm chair look at the City of Lights.
It's much better viewed up close in person I can assure you.
OK, now if you want to take this or any other tour at rock bottom prices starting at Lake Chapala, just send me an e mail with the subject line "Guadalajara Tours" to Sid@ChapalaClub.com and I'll respond right away.
All for now,