There is no doubt that the capital of Jalisco is a privileged city, filled with culture, history and leisure options. Modernity and tradition go hand-in-hand in this city with a business headquarters’ soul. It is easy to find lovely colonial buildings, museums and cafeterias that contrast with the new infrastructures designed to make Guadalajara one of Latin America’s greatest cultural showcases.
Old Town has emblematic historical and architectonical buildings.
- Plaza Guadalajara: There is a place in Guadalajara known by three names: Plaza de los Laureles, Plaza del Ayuntamiento or Plaza Guadalajara. This place was constructed in the middle of the fifties, and began with the idea of an underground parking lot that had a pleasant esplanade on the surface. In the middle of the plaza, one can observe a large fountain commemorating the city’s foundation, which also bears the city’s coat-of-arms and is shaped like a half-pearl, since Guadalajara is known as “The Pearl of the West”. It is located in front of the Cathedral.
- Cathedral: With two 65-meter towers standing over the Cathedral’s structure, it is identified as a symbol of the city. It was constructed in 1561 by request of the Spanish King, Philip II. It has the second-largest organ in the country. During the war of independence, it acted as refuge for insurgent troops. Its architecture: Gothic, Moorish Baroque and Neoclassical influences.
- Teatro Degollado: The first stone was laid on March 5th, 1856. It was inaugurated with the opera “Lucia di Lammermoor”, by Gaetano Donizetti, with Ángela Peralta as the main actress. Its portico has 16 Corinthian columns, and it can hold 1,600 spectators. Currently, it is the headquarters for the Symphonic Orchestra of Guadalajara, in addition to diverse cultural events.
- Plaza de Armas: Meeting place for Guadalajaran society until the beginning of the 20th century. Amongst its beautiful architecture, the Palacio del Gobierno (Government Palace) is noteworthy with its elegant interior patio, with semicircular arches and interesting murals on the main stairway. At the angles of the plaza, there are four sculptures that represent each one of the seasons of the year. Herein one can find the Coat of Arms, commemorating the granting of a city title to Guadalajara in 1539.
Parks and Gardens
Parque del Agua Azul (Blue Water Park): Possibly the park with most tradition in Guadalajara. In its 16 hectares in the middle of the city, visitors and citizens can relax and make contact with nature and culture, given that here lies the Butterfly House, the Aviary, Orchid Garden, an exhibition hall and a child forum.
Parque de la Revolución (Revolution Park): Also known as Parque Rojo (Red Park), as all of the buildings are of this color. This is a very popular recreational space amongst citizens. The area housed the city penitentiary until it was reordered in 1935.
Parque Metropolitano (Metropolitan Park): More than 100 hectares of green areaswhere one can play sports or enjoy programmed activities, such as open-air cinema.
- Museo de Arqueología de Occidente de México (Western Mexican Archeological Museum): Located inside the Parque Agua Azul (Blue Water Park). Inaugurated at the end of the fifties, archeological artifacts and vestiges of cultures that inhabited the regions of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit are shown within. Workshops on the Nahuatl language are given for children and adults. On Saturdays, there are courses open to the public, and during the summer, there are workshops on the Nahuatl tongue.
- Museo Regional de Guadalajara (Regional Museum of Guadalajara): Located in a colonial building, interesting in and of itself due to its Baroque façade. It includes both archeological artifacts and work by different local artists so as to help one to understand the city of Guadalajara’s history and the state of Jalisco. Its main attraction is the practically complete skeleton exhibited in its paleontology room.
- Hospital Civil de Guadalajara/Museo de Historia de la Medicina (Guadalajara Civil Hospital/Museum of Medicine History): In addition to the building’s historical-architectural interest, the Museum has rooms on herb studies, medical instruments, audio-visual displays with celebrated personalities and galleries with period photographs.
- Museo de las Artes Populares (Museum of Popular Arts): Four permanent and two temporary exhibition halls making the state of Jalisco’s traditional art known.
- Museo Nacional de la Cerámica (National Ceramic Museum): Here there is a permanent collection exhibit of traditional and contemporary ceramics. It has pre-Hispanic pieces, from the 17th and 20th centuries, as well as the winners of the last State Ceramics Contests.
Bosque La Primavera
La Primavera forest is 140 thousand years old. It is the largest ecological reserve found near the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara. There are designated spaces to pitch a camping tent and spend the night surrounded by nature, such as El Cañón de las Flores and Las Tinajitas, where the camping experience provides the opportunity to enjoy thermal waters at their springs.
Lago de Chapala
Located toward the east of the State of Jalisco, it is considered to be one of the largest lakes in the country, at 78.5 km long and 20.5 wide, surpassing the Dead Sea's extension. It is surrounded by the towns of Chapala and Ajijic, where important cultural and artisan movements are carried out.
- Tapatio Tour: Route in a tourist bus along the city’s most emblematic points. The ticket allows one to get on and off for the entire day at all of the stops along the route.
- Tourist streetcar: Characterized vehicles with an image of yore that go through the city’s historic downtown area. An original way to move through Guadalajara and get to know some of its main monuments and areas of interest.
- Tequila Express or José Cuervo Express: Tour in a tourist train through the agave lands. There are two lines: Tequila Express and José Cuervo. Both of them only operate on weekends.
- Parque Zoológico (Zoological Park): Fifty hectares dedicated to almost 400 different species, both autochthonous and from other corners of the planet. Everything together offers an entertaining space for family recreation.
- Mundo Marino (Marine World): A splendid entertainment park based on aquaticanimals, such as dolphins and sea lions, that offer fun, interactive shows.
- Selva Mágica (Magic Jungle): Zoological theme park, with dolphins and a bird show.
Origin of Tequila
The Spanish brought their distillation processes to America, which were applied to fermented indigenous, agave-based drinks, making way for the most widely-known Mexican drink: tequila, born in the state of Jalisco.
In the area, it is interesting to get to know the current distilleries making it. They share all of its history and preparation process. What is more, one can visit the enormous agave fields and the Museo Nacional del Tequila (National Tequila Museum), with six permanent exhibition halls and a central patio with an old agave piña mill.
Due to the proximity of the Neovolcanic Belt to the city of Guadalajara, it has imposing rocky formations that act as base sites for extreme sports and adventure, such as mountain climbing and rappel descent.
Another option to practice this sport is the Mundo Fantástico (Fantastic World) park, a controlled, artificial environment a few minutes away from the city with ideal facilities for this sort of activity.
Guadalajara has several golf courses that place a great number of modern facilities within reach of lovers of this sport. The following are noteworthy: El Rio Country Club, Las Cañadas Country Club, with 18 holes, El Cielo Country Club and El Palomar Country Club.
The natural landscapes located around Jalisco’s capital have an advantage for campers: they have the services necessary for those passionate about this activity to enjoy doing so with comfort. One of the ideal settings to camp are the mountainous places Las Piedrotas and Los Frailes, located in the Tapalpa region, to the south-east of the city. At these sites, it is possible to be in contact with the region’s flora and fauna.
To enjoy typical Mexican food is to learn what the word “spicy” means. Do not miss out on some of the most recognized delicacies from the area’s gastronomy, cooked in the most authentic way:
- Torta ahogada (Drowned sandwich): The characteristic of sandwiches in the area, unlike other sandwiches in Mexico, is that they are drowned. In other words, they are served submerged in a dish full of a red, spicy sauce and onion strips. Additionally, they are prepared in such a way that they are harder and more salty than is customary in other areas. They tend to be stuffed with meat.
- Birria (Spicy meat stew): Steamed meat with mushrooms, highly seasoned with lemon, onion and green chilies. The most traditional is made with goat meat and wrapped in maguey leaves, placed in earthen dishes and cooked over hot stones for more than four hours.
- Chilaquiles: Very toasted tortilla chips served with quilitl (an herb eaten raw), onion, chili and cheese.
- Guadalajaran Enchiladas: Rolled hotcakes stuffed with meat and/or cheesePozole or Tapatío (Maize stew): Corn soup with pork meat. Typical stew from Jalisco tends to be red or white, and uses pieces of pork or chicken, in addition to vegetables.
- Jericalla: Typical dessert, similar to flan or custards but cooked until practically burned.