Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and the cultural center of Western Mexico. Its status as a city was granted by the Spanish King Charles the sixth in 1550 along with a coat of arms that the city has today. The Central Historic district is the oldest section of the city where it was founded and where the oldest buildings are located. They include a combination of religious and civil colonial buildings which are noted for their architectural and historic significance. While the colonial buildings are the most common style of architecture found in the historic district, one can also find examples of Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Viceregal and Art Deco designs. One of the buildings, the Instituto de Cultural Cabana, is a world heritage site.
From an architectural standpoint, the Templo Expiatory is perhaps the most interesting building in the historic district and its neoclassical style was designed by Manuel Tolsa. Although the cornerstone was laid in 1897, the church is made of stone, carved as it was done in the middle ages.The three tympana on the church’s facade are accented with Italian mosaic’s created in the Vaticans mosaic factory. Also seen on the facade is a church clock imported from Germany and installed by German technicians along with a carillon of 25 bells which play 25 religious pieces such as Ave Maria. Whenever a musical piece is played, minature statutes of the 12 apostle’s rotate in and out of the campanile. Of course a church would not be the same without stained glass and this one has huge stained glass windows created by Jacques and Gerard Degussecau of France. In addition to the musuems and galleries in the historic area, the sites shown in this gallery are the most popular attractions for cultural tourism in Guadalajara.
Interior architecture of the Templo Expiatorio
A Bronze sculpture of Guadalaja’s Coat of Arms which symbolizes a fighting spirit and perseverance.
The Sanctuario de Guadalajara was built in 1781. The exterior architecture is Churrigueresque while the interior is Neoclassical
This is the Teatro Dellgado named after the state’s govenor when construction of the neoclassical building was completed in 1866.
Fuente de la Inmolacion de Quetzalcoatl who was a diety in the Meso American culture. The name means feathered serpent or flying reptile.
This is the facade of the Catedral Metropolitana which is now a mixture of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclaassical architectural styles. Construction of the original building started in 1558 but 2 earthquakes have since destroyed most of the original building. In the most recent past, new twin towers were built to replace the originals that were destroyed by one of the earthquakes in the 19th century.
Entrance to the Palacio de Gobierno (state government headquarters) is an example of the colonial style architecture which is most prevalent in the city. It was completed in 1774 and has many columns, arches and murals inside.
One of Jose Orozco’s mural’s painted on a dome ceiling inside of the state government builing which covers an area equal to 1,312 sq. ft
Rotunda de los Jaliscienses Ilusttres was designed in 1952 to honor the contributions of Jalisco’s most notable people represented by the statutes surrounding it.
Institute de Cultural Cabana built in the 19th century is a neoclassical designed building. Originally this building was a shelter for orphans and homeless people. It has 23 courtyards and 106 rooms. It has been a world heritage site since 1997 and is now a museum.
At sunset, a boat returns to the pier with its passengers.
Lake Chapalpa is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico and the village of Chapala has been a popular weekend and holiday destination for both Guadalajara residents and international tourist since the 1920’s. The lakefront promenade or malecon has 2 scenic piers, boat rides, restaurants, hotels, playgrounds, skateboard park, mariachi’s, retail vendors and yacht club. One of the malecon’s landmarks, seen below, is the old Victorian style mansion built in 1906. It is now a restaurant called Cazadores but was formerly owned by the Braniff family of airline fame and fortune, In addition to tourist, ,many local people come to the malecon on a regular basis for picnic’s, see the sunsets or watch the birds who migrate here in the fall.
Cazadores Restaurant, formerly the Braniff family home
Birds start migrating to the shores of Lake Chapala in the falll
The main pier and lighthouse
An old boat is used as a planter in the garden on the malcon.
The Lake Chapala Inn on the malecon
There is a skateboard park on the malecon
On Sunday’s many families bring the kids to the playground on the malecon
Here’s a few of the restaurants at the east end of the malecon along with some strolling musicians
another pier is found at the east end of the malecon
Here’s the ever present Mariachi’s entertaining some visitors
The malecon is also the location for annual events such as Day of the Dead and Carnival
San Cristobal is at an altitude of 2300 meters and is surrounded by peaks, pines and oak trees
This annual week long celebration of spring involves quite a variety of events and runs concurrent with the Semana Santa holiday in Mexico. There seems to be something for everyone including art exhibits, sports, concerts, parades, cultural events, rodeo’s, bull fights, fireworks and more. Best of all, most events are free of charge and in San Cristobal de las Casas the weather is spring like almost year around. For more information and a few photos of event activities, see the gallery below.
local people who have no store of their own set up shop behind the main plaza to sell hand made textiles and crafts
past and present festival beauty queens at the El Gato blues concert
El Gato Blues Band rockin’ La Ensenanza Casa de la Cuidad, they were smokin’
A sidewalk art contest in the main plaza
Folk dancing on stage in the main plaza
Flora, a local artist from Korea sells her unique style of artwork on Calle Hildago, one of the pedestrian only streets in Centro during the festival
At the anniversary celebration of El Jardin de Epifitas, there was a plant contest.
Another exotic plant in the epifitas garden plant contest
a flower decorated frame was set up at all four corners around the main plaza
a marimba orchestra performing on one of two stages set up in the main plaza
a fashion show on the main stage in centro
another model wearing one of the latest spring fashion designs in Chiapas
One of the 2 day events was a National motocross competition
The winner flies over the checkered flag
Almost every event in Mexico will have a Mariachi Band as did the spring festival
There were state soccer tournaments at this field, as well as, basketball and baseball tournaments at other locations in the cities large sports park
Here is a handicapped musician who learned to master the marimba with his feet, performing on the main stage in centro
Here’s a 4 piece jazz band performing at the Casa de la Cuidad with a cover of Dave Brubecks “Take Five”
A trational orchestra on the main stage closing out the festival on the 27th of April
In August of 2012, Valladolid became part of Mexico’s “Pueblo Magico” program which recognizes traditional villages that meet their specific requirements of natural beauty, cultural riches, or historic relevance to the country. It is a well preserved colonial city of Spanish arcades and 16th century spires located between the beaches of Tulum and the archeological site of Chichen Itza. A few of the main attractions include the cathedral of San Servacio, Rosado Park, Cenote Zaci, the colonial homes with great architecture on Calzdada de Los Frailes and the Siskal neighborhood temple and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena. Additional activities include a variety of tours such as the chocolate factory tour, the mexican folk art tour of Casa de Venado and the Tequila tours of local agave plantations and distilleries. Photos and additional information is included in the photo gallery.
Siskal neighborhood and ex-convent of San Bernadino de Siena
Interior architecture of the temple
Siskal Barrio and La Taberna Restaurant which serves contemporary cusine with maya herbs and spices
This Mayan Home was preserved and restored because it is representative of the maya culture and building materials used in this area.
The chocolate factory in Valladolid is the only one in the state of Yucatan that still makes 100 percent chocolate candy using traditional production techniques
Friendly Manager of the chocolate factory
Take a tour of the Mayapan Agave distillery and learn about the traditional techniques used to make tequila and then taste the difference.
This tequileria features tastings of high quality boutique made tequila along with detailed information about how the local tequila is made
Parque Rosado is the main park in central Valladolid directly across from the cathedral in the center of town
San Servacio Cathedral
A sidewalk cafe next to the cathedral
Horse with bonnet and buggy offering rides around centro
A bar and grill with sports betting on La Quinta as well as St. Patricks Day decorations.
La Qunita or Fifth Avenue is the entertainment and shopping center of Playa del Carmen. It is a pedestrian only street parallel to the beach and is somewhat like a boardwalk except that the beach is a block away. What is unique about this street is that the majority of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and even retailers feature an open air or sidewalk atmosphere. At this time, La Quinta is over 30 blocks in length and still expanding, so you need good walking shoes if you plan to see it all in one night. Here you will find a huge variety of restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, local bars, specialty retailers, services, hotels, hostels, kiosk’s and art galleries to visit on this strip. While some of the vendors on this street have a reputation for being very aggressive, keep in mind that these are mostly small business owned shops not corporations with advertising dollars to spend. That said, the photo gallery below is just a small sample of what you can expect to find on La Quinta Avenue.
One of several galleries on La Qunita with original art work
Karen’s found on La Quinta specializes in steak and seafood, there is also live entertainment’ here during the afternoon’s and evening’s.
Hand make textiles from the state of Chipas on La Quinta
Tattoo’s and Body piercing art on La Quinta
a pizza stand with slices or whole pies
at the intersection of la quinta and calle corazon
Tequila for sale along with a history lesson
a popular open air restaurant with natural organic foods
One of several alley’s found along la quinta ave. this one is home to the popular casa mediterrain restaurant a several boutique retail shops
This vine covered hotel is one of the first on La Quinta and is also one of the most affordable
The original Katrina image was created in 1910 by artist Jose Posada to symbolize the death of indigenous mexican culture but today the original meaning has been obscured and Catrina is now associated with the day of the dead rituals.
a custom design clothing shop
Enjoy italian ice cream on La Quinta
open air bar on La Quinta
There are several shops that feature Ceramic art work and talavera pottery on La Quinta
This inlet leads snorkelers and swimmers to the carribean or the restaurant in the background
Xcaret Park was created to promote nature and mexican cultural heritage. To that end, part of the admission price is donated to developing programs for the preservation of wild flora and fauna. There are quite a variety of leisure and recreational activities in the park but all are related to this objective. In general, the main attractions include underground rivers, natural pools and inlets for snorkeling, exhibitions which include archeological zones, re-creations of ancient mayan cities along with mayan ceremonies, flora and fauna found on interpretative jungle trails, orchid and bromelaid museums, a butterfly pavilion, natural habitats for jaguars, puma’s and monkeys, aquariums, bee farms and deer shelters. The latest in their long list of natural attractions is the Sea Trek underwater adventure that offers a new technology for diving underwater without extensive training and cumbersome gear. All you need is their new hi-tech diving helmet that keeps water out while air is pumped in from a boat that hovers above the dive site. So, it is now possible for almost everyone to experience the coral reefs and tropical fish for which the Carribean is famous. Ladies will find this new helmet especially appealing because the helmet keeps hair dry and prevents make-up from washing off.
This organ grinder walks around the park and plays traditional mexican folk music
Bromeliads like these are found in the musuem and on interpretive jungle trails
another exhibition of ancient ceremonies which involves bird men that descend from the top of this pole by doing circles in the air to honor the sun god.
this is one of several performances that involve ancient maya rituals and customs
here’s where you jump in and let the current move you through the waters
spider monkey island is a natural habitat for a family of these amusing primates
one of may butterflies within this pavilion
a monarch butterfly sculpture along the trail through this pavilion
cat prowling through the parks jaguar island
inside the maya archeological zone
a natural pool for sun tanning, relaxing and bathing
the opening of a horse exhibition within the grounds of a typical 19th century hacienda compound.
Xcaret inlet meets the carribean
snorkelers at the end of a one way underground river
The most popular beach in this authentic mexican resort is Mamita’s at the north end of Playa and a block from La Quinta Avenue, the pedestrian only entertainment center of town. Thanks to the amenities offered by Mamita’s s Beach Club and Kool’s adult beach club next door, you don’t need to bring anything with you other than a swim suit to enjoy a day at the beach as illustrated by the following series of images.
Mamita’s beach is also home to the annual international jazz festival in November. This a look at the crowd.
some like to feed seagulls
girls jumping for joy at mamita’s beach
Here’s the rental kiosk for a variety of water sports equipment such as hobie cats, boogie boards, surf boards etc.
paddleball is a favorite recreational activity at mamita’s
lots of people like to walk along the shores of the carribean sea
Mamita’s Beach Club Bar and Restaurant also serves guest on the beach
Kools Bar and Adult Beach Club is right next door to Mamita’s but is for adults only. They offer many of the same services and amenities as mamita’s beach club
If the ocean is a little to rough or you don’t like salt water, the pool is available for a nominal fee.
In addition to the restaurant, the beach club also has a lounge with a sound system and drinks to go.
In Playa del Carmen on the Maya Riviera, life is a beach and so it is called Playa by most everyone familiar with this area. Up until a few years ago, the main attraction to Playa was the ferry to Isla Cozumel but there has been a dramatic transformation in the past 10 years from portal to what is now one of Mexico’s most popular resorts. Some of this success can be attributed to nearby attractions such as Cancun or Ecaret theme park but Playa’s newly developed amenities and attractions make this resort an appealing destination on its own..
As far as attractions and activities are concerned, the sun, sea and beaches are the most important to consider. There’s plenty of sunshine to go around, the ocean temps are comfortable all year long, and the beaches stretch from one end of town to another. Playa Caribe is one of the main public beaches at the south end of town next to the maritime terminal where ferries to and from Isla Cozumel are located. Amenities at this beach include volleyball nets, several tiki bars, showers and massage tables. On the other side of this terminal you will find Senor Frogs beach which offers similar amenities as detailed by photo on the left, as well as there restaurant and bar.
Other conveniently located attractions include a variety of retail stores, restaurants and bars. The retailer’s directly behind Playa Caribe are for the most part independently owned and operated. Wheras, the retailers directly behind Senor Frog’s are corporate owned speciality stores that are part of the upscale La Fiesta Plaza. As you might expect, there is a considerable difference in the merchandise available at these shops and in the way they operate their business. Suffice to say, that if you are looking for a bargain on products made in Mexico, shop at the independently owned stores as seen in the photo to the right. If you want expensive name brand imports, shop at the Plaza La Fiesta. In addition to the different types of merchandise for sale, it is also interesting to compare the old world approach to retailing practiced by the independent shops versus the contemporary style of retailing at the Plaza La Fiesta.
Likewise, the choice of where to eat includes traditional mexican food served at stands or restaurants just behind Playa Caribe or restaurants like Subway, Haagen Das and Starbucks in the food court at the La Fiesta Plaza. When it’s time for happy hour, however, the choices are easy because all the bars seem to serve the same brands of mexican beer and after a few hours in the sun, they all taste good. Cheers!
This edition of Cancun Highlights features golf courses, restaurants, beaches and marina’s. It’s hard to say which is the best or most popular golf course because opinions usually vary according to individual preferences and skill levels. In any case, there are several top notch 18 hole, par 72 courses within the hotel zone. The longest, at 6,800 yards, is the Iberostar Golf Club, followed by the Cancun Country Club at 6,750 yards.. However, all golfers know that yardage changes from time to time with tee placement, so anyone of the above courses could be longer than the other on a given day. For what it’s worth to all the duffers out there, the Cancun Country Club, designed by Nick Price, is recognized as the only Tournament Players course outside of the United States at this time.
Another popular public beach located in the heart of the Cancun hotel zone is Playa Tortuga. It is not an expansive stretch of beach like Playa Del Fines mentioned in a previous post because it is filled with Tiki bars, open air restaurants, beach oriented retail shops and cafes. The pier in the background of this photo has a bungee jumping tower and is also a launching point for ferries to Isla Mujeres.
Aqua World is also one of Cancun’s top attractions. It is both a marina and business with a fleet of 17 boats offering both tourist and nautical services. For example, there is a jungle tour that takes you through the Nichupte Lagoon mangroves to a secluded snorkeling paradise while another tour offers a lobster dinner cruise on the lagoon at sunset.
Last but not least is the La Habichuela Sunset restaurant. With a reputation for delicious meals, a unique sculpture garden of native flora and mayan theme shows; it has earned it’s rank as one of Cancun’s best restaurants. As the name implies, it is also one of the best places within the hotel zone to watch the sunset over the Nichupte Lagoon.
In this second post with more Cancun highlights, there are photos of the El Rey archeological site, the new Maya museum, the Forum Mall, and the Fiesta Americana Luxury Hotel which are all located within the hotel zone. The above photo shows the remains of an ancient observatory at the El Rey site which dates back to 1200 a.d. The architectural style found here is similar to that of other structures built in the southeastern region of mexico during the time period from 1200 a.d. to 1500 a.d. San Miguelito, another archeological site in the Cancun Hotel Zone, can be found within the grounds of the new Maya museum which opened last December. Inside the museum there is a lot of information about Mayan history along with exhibits and artifacts. The archeological site at this location features an interpretative trial through Maya ruins that are surrounded by a jungle ecosystem much like the one that existed when these structures were built.
Other photos featured in this post include the Fiesta Americana Resort and the Forum Mall both found in the heart of the hotel zone. The Fiesta is a family resort that has won the presitigous 5 diamond award numerous times and is considered to be located on the finest stretch of private beach in Cancun, It also features a 40,000 square foot spa and an awesome swimming pool that spans the length of the 602 room hotel. Only a short walk from here brings us to the Forum Mall which offers a unique blend of retail shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. The anchor tenants here are not walmart or costco, however, but super clubs such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Coco Bongo which ranks as one of trip advisor’s top attractions in Cancun.
For those that are not familiar with the history of Cancun, it was just a deserted island 40 years ago that was separated from the mainland by a system of canals and consisted of nothing more than marshes, mangroves, jungles and beaches. In 1969, however, the Cancun development was officially approved and construction began sometime in 1970. The master plan originally called for a hotel zone without permanent residential areas, a residential zone for permanent residents and an international airport. Needless to say, this plan required some very complicated engineering but in the end; the development project was successful.
There are now 72 hotels located in a 17 mile stretch of beach inside the hotel zone with the Caribbean sea on one side and the Nichupte lagoon on the other. Most of these are rated 5 stars, the best rating achievable in Latin America. The first hotel to be built was the Playa Blanca which is now an exclusive adult only hotel now known as the Temptation Spa Resort. Another adult only hotel, Le Blanc Spa Resort , is now the most popular according to Trip Advisor, with Live Agua ranking second in this cateqory. Just across the street is trip advisor’s highest rated shopping mall in Cancun called La Isla. It is unique in that it features a marina at the rear of the complex where boats can be rented, as well as, a canal running through the shopping center that gives it the look and feel of Venice. Also featured in this post is a photo of Playa Del Fines which is the largest and best maintained of the public beaches on this 17 mile stretch of road which is dominated by hotels that limit public access to their beach area as much as possible.
The dictionary defines an embarcadero as a landing place on a waterway. In Cancun, the embarcadero is more than just a landing place. Here the meaning includes authentic pirate ship cruises, helicopter tours, the cancun theater, retail shops, restaurants, catamaran party boats, and a 293 foot observation tower with the best view in town.
One of the photos in this post shows the Captain Hook Pirate ships that are 93 foot replicas of 18th century spanish galleons. Despite their authenticity, these ships are equipped with all the necessary modern facilities to augment the on board entertainment. The 3 hour cruise event offers entertaining pirate shows with sword fights, music, open bar, and buffet.
Other photos show the observation tower, helicopter, ultra mar ferry and the Dancer Catamaran. The ferry is inexpensive and makes frequent trips to Isla Mujeres during the day. It takes less than 1 hour to reach the island from the embarcadero. In addition, the Dancer Catamaran is known as the best daytime party boat in Cancun. It features guided tours of Cancun’s maya ruins, special events such as the upcoming New Year’s Celebration Cruise and great snorkeling opportunities. A continential breakfeast is also included with the cruises, as well as an open bar.
Playa del Carmen is located on the Maya Riviera and has the ambiance of a small beach resort but at the same time it is sophisticated in many ways. Here you will find vistors and shop owners from all over the world, special events such as the Maya Jazz Festival that features music from a variety of cultures, restaurants that serve many different kinds of cuisine
from different countries around the world, specialty retail shops with merchandise from all over mexico and small boutique lodging’s with distinct European styles. Most of the restaurants, cafes, shops, nightlife and other tourist activity are located on a 15 block section of fifth avenue which is limited to pedestrian foot traffic.
There are many other attractions in and around Playa del Carmen. Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in this area along with miles of offshore coral reefs that offer what are just about the most spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving sites anywhere in the world. If the beach or scuba diving are not your cup of tea, than there are several major theme parks near by such as Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Xaman-Ha Avairy. Each offers its own unique blend of outdoor recreational activities. These are just a few of the reasons why Playa del Carmen was selected as the second best destination resort in Mexico for 2012 by travelers choice.
Vallarta is located on the pacific coast of Mexico at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains. It is an alluring blend of modern sophistication and old world character with many luxury resorts fronted by beaches and the warm waters of Bandaras Bay. Despite the presence of luxury hotels and condominiums, Puerto Vallarta remains a very casual resort where shorts and t-shirts are standard attire.
Although Vallarta started attracting tourist in the 1940´s, it was the filming of ¨The Night of the Iguana¨, starring Richard Burton in 1963 that eventually put Puerto Vallarta on the international tourist map to stay. With the development of the Marina Vallarta Complex in the mid 90´s, the city has also become a major port of call for cruise lines. As a result, American discount chains such as Walmart and Costco have set up shop to accommodate the growing population of ex-pats and tourist that come by land or sea.
Since Banderas Bay is protected by its shape and surrounding geography, the water remains calm and clear most of the time. So, conditions are ideal for many water sports such as boating, deep sea fishing, snorkeling and parasailing. Other popular recreational opportunities in the area include golf, tennis and a variety of eco-tours into the Sierra Madre mountains for the more adventurous.