Sunday, October 19, 2014

Below Guanajuato

Guanajuato isn't just known for its festival. Back in the 16th Century, the conquering Spaniards found silver here, and at one time it produced two-thirds of the world's total output, a phenomenal percentage (OK, fraction). There are still working mines today. This morning we went up into the hills to visit a long-since closed one, but it gave you an idea of the wealth that was produced and the hardships endured by the mainly slave labour... and the expertise they acquired digging tunnels which Guanajuato is riddled with. 
We also visited the Museum of Mummies, a macabre collection of curiously preserved dead people. In the late 19th Century the town's main cemetery became overcrowded so the authorities imposed a tax on the deceased's relatives. If they couldn't pay, their loved ones were exhumed to make way for newcomers. It was then that the natural mummification was noticed - a result of the minerals within the stone burial chambers. The museum has around 60 of them dating from 1850-1950, and in various degrees of decomposition.
Infinitely more pleasant was the stupendous view from the top of the funicular in the south of the city: a sea of coloured houses (ochres, terracotta reds, azure blues...) stretching to east and west and creeping up the hills, with the Teatro Juarez, cathedral and old university building taking centre stage.


  1. Opening shots of Herzog's "Nosferatu" were shot there I think…….