Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines
Historic Town Of Guanajuato And Adjacent Mines
Cultural Mexico Latin America And The Caribbean Etat De: Guanajuato. Municipalite: Guanajuato

Guanajuato is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble of a mining operation. Just as the major 18th-century hydraulic works are inextricably linked to an urban topography determined by the confines of the river path and mineral outcrops, so the splendour of the Baroque buildings is directly linked to the wealth of the mines. The churches of La Compañía (1745-65) and above all La Valenciana (1765-88) are masterpieces of the Mexican Churrigueresque style. In the field of the history of technology, Guanajuato may also pride itself on unique artistic achievements such as the 'Boca del Infierno', a mineshaft that plunges a breathtaking 600 m.

In 1548 the Spaniards, who had settled in the region in 1529, discovered rich outcrops of silver at Guanaxhuata, which means 'Frog Hill' in the Tarasco language. To protect prospectors, miners and the new settlers, four fortified structures were erected at Marfil, Tepetapa, Santa Ana and Cerro del Cuarto, and formed the nuclei of the later town of Guanajuato. Sprawling through a winding valley at an altitude of 2,084 m, Guanajuato differs from the other colonial towns in New Spain because it was not laid out on the standard grid plan. Instead, the scattered areas grew together through the spontaneous urbanization of suitable sites on the rough, natural terrain.

Founded when the silver mines were opened, Guanajuato had a symbiotic relationship with them until the 19th century. Its growth, the layout of its streets, including the picturesque 'subterranean' streets, its plazas, and the construction of hospitals, churches, convents and palaces are all inextricably linked with the industrial history of the region which, with the decline of the Potosímines in the 18th century, became the world's leading silver extraction centre.