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Guadalajara – Mexico’s Most Mexican State – belgium gastronomy
Ever wonder what the perfect marriage between the historic and modern would be like? What if we add the spring season all year long? Well, you get none other than the great city of Guadalajara! It is the perfect union of class, culture, modernism, all topped with the perfect year-round weather which makes for the picture-perfect backdrop. Let Patawalk introduce you to this magnificent place.
The city of Guadalajara is named by the city of the same name in Spain. The name Guadalajara, to be more specific, comes from the Arab language and it means “Valley of Stones or “Stony River.” It was found by Nuno de Guzman in 1542, with 126 residents; today it has over a million residents.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about the foundation of this year-round spring city, let me tell you what truly makes it fabulous today. The Historic Center is the oldest part of the city. One main area here is the Plaza de Armas, which is kind of like a park. It is square-shaped, surrounded by gardens, the benches are made out of iron and it has a kiosk, also made of iron brought from Paris. Another spectacular historical place you must see is the Metropolitan Cathedral. This is one of those buildings that dates back to the 1500s, this particular one was established in 1616 and is truly an architectural marvel for it is a mixture of Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Moorish. It also has to towers, which were re-built in the 19th century. Inside, the cathedral has eleven altars, three central areas, and the roof is supported by thirty columns (much like the ones used in Greece). Within the vicinity, there’s one very interesting monument known as Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres (Rotunda of Illustrious Men). This monument was built in memory of distinguished people from the state of Jalisco. Built in 1952, it is in a circular shape made of quarried stones containing seventeen columns. What really makes it interesting is that it houses the remains (in small urns) of ninety-eight illustrious people. If you’re into art, then you have to visit the Palace of the State Government, which features murals created by one of Mexico’s most famous painters (also a native of Jalisco), Jose Clemente Orozco. Teatro Degollado (Degollado Theater) is not only a theater, but its ceiling has a painting depicting a scene from the “Divine Comedy”- the epic poem written by the Italian author Dante about a journey through hell, the purgatory, and heaven. If you would like to visit at least one museum, then go to Jalisco Regional Museum. Rarely will you have the opportunity to see a complete mammoth skeleton! But that’s not all; the museum has sections dedicated to Paleontology, Pre-history, History, Painting, and Archeology. Another interesting building is the Ex-Hospicio Cabanas which was built in 1810 by the Catholic Church as an orphanage. The building features a neoclassic style of architecture and today it is as a cultural institute featuring art and several murals. Since you’re visiting the colonial style part of the city, why not experience a little of that colonial life and visit the area on a “Calandria”, which are horse-drawn carriages.
After all taking in the magnificence of Guadalajara you’ll surely work out an appetite. When you visit Guadalajara, make sure to taste the native dishes. “Birria” is definitely a staple dish of Guadalajara; it is usually goat meat cooked in a spicy sauce/broth which includes chili peppers, ginger, cumin, black pepper, oregano, and clove. It is usually served with corn tortillas and limes on the side and topped with minced onion and cilantro. If you’d like to try birria, it is sold at most Mexican-food restaurants but one that really stands out is Las Nueve Esquinas (The Nine Corners). Tortas Ahogadas (Drowned Tortas) is another classic Guadalajara dish. A “Torta” is similar to a sub sandwich, but uses oblong-shaped bun that is crunchy on the top but soft in the interior. The bun is filled with fried pork, but you can get chicken, beans and cheese. The sandwich is then submerged or “drowned” in a sauce made out of chili peppers and served with a side of radishes and avocados. Hmmm! Lastly, another more well-known dish is “Posole”. This is much like the famous menudo, except it has pork or sometimes chicken instead of tripe. On a quick note, you should know that Guadalajara is so proud of its culinary creations that it hosts La Feria Internacional de Gastronomia (International Gastronomy Fair) every September.
Accompanying your food you should indulge in the state’s native drink: Tequila! The drink is almost synonymous with the city of Guadalajara. Tequila is actually named after the small town where it was created and is it lies just outside the city of Guadalajara. The drink is taken from the native plant, Agave, which is fermented and distilled. This is an ever growing industry and you can take a tour of three of the most well-known distilleries: Sauza, Jose Cuervo, and Herradura. The most interesting of the three is the Herradura Tequila distillery because it has kept the traditional and original factory. This is a complete hacienda and in fact, the owners still reside right there.
What better time to take pleasure in a shot of tequila or maybe a margarita than when submerged in Guadalajara’s night life. Unlike most nightlife of beach towns, Guadalajara offers an array of nightlife entertainment for all ages and preferences. You can walk into a nice jazz club like “Copenhagen 77″, a high quality piano bar such as “El Piano”, or you can dance all night at a rock nightclub like “Hard Rock CafÃ©”. Of course, the night life also offers opera, ballet, and live theater. So all you have to do is decide what you’re in the mood for and it’s there!
If you’re in the mood for some shopping, then visit Mercado Libertad (Liberty Market), which is one of the largest indoor traditional markets in Mexico. It features over 1000 vendors and here haggling is like an art. It’s almost impossible to not find what you’re looking for. You can find everything from Mexican candies, wooden toys, food, leather coats, perfumes, watches, radios, clothing, and so much more. To get a true musical experience then the Plaza de los Mariachis is a must. Here, you can listen to the world renowned Mariachi music live. Mariachi music originated in the neighboring town of Cocula, Jalisco but it is now mainly associated with Guadalajara. What really brought about the association of the Mariachi music with Guadalajara was in 1907 when a group performed in front of the then president, Porfirio Diaz, and the then Secretary of State of the United States. Guadalajara has in fact embraced and made this music part of their culture. It is such an important part of the culture that Guadalajara hosts El Festival del Mariachi y Charreria (The Festival of Mariachi and Horse Riding). Participants from all over the world including Japan, France, and Belgium can be seen here performing their best tunes. In fact, just last year 542 mariachi musicians played together breaking the record for the largest mariachi group. Charreria is something that is very much entwined with the mariachi music. This is the original cowboy rodeo art; here the “charros” (cowboys) perform and compete in different horse riding and roping events. You can see both the Charreria and the Mariachi performing every Sunday afternoon in the bullring – Plaza de Toros Nueve Progreso.
The city is also host to two other international events: The International Film Festival of Guadalajara and The Guadalajara International Book Fair. Both fairs, as the name indicates, features participants from all over the world. The first fair takes place in March and interesting the event last year featured over 200 films. The Book Fair is indisputably the largest Spanish-language book fair and an astounding 300 publishing firms from over 30 countries are in attendance.
This great city also offers a little something for the kids. The city’s zoo is one of the most impressive in the country and adjacent to the zoo is a unique amusement park, Selva Magica (Magic Jungle). The zoo has over 1,500 different animals. The amusement park has over 35 rides, a dolphin show and even the toucans perform! Why wait, go indulge right now, see it in 360 at Patawalk!