Taxco de Alarcon Tourist Attractions
How to get thereMexico City by bus about 3 hours; by car about 170km/106mi on the MEX 95 and 95D, turning off in Amacuzac.Taxco, spectacularly situated on the side of a series of hilltops, is one of the most famous and most popular tourist destinations in Mexico by virtue of its harmonious townscape dating back to the colonial period, with low tiled houses, tiny squares, alleyways and secluded corners.
HistoryIn pre-Columbian times the area was inhabited by the Tlahuicas, one of the Nahua tribes. About 10km/6mi from present-day Taxco stood the Indian town of Tlachco (Náhuatl: "where ball was played"). The Aztecs under their rulers Itzcóatl and Moctezuma I invaded the area and finally annexed it in the middle of the 15th c. The Spanish arrived here in 1522 in search of tin and silver. In 1529 they founded the settlement of El Real de Tetzelcingo, from which the town of Taxco was finally to emerge in 1581. Large deposits of silver were not found until the middle of the 18th c. when Joséde la Borda discovered and exploited the large mine of San Ignacio. In gratitude for the riches he had acquired, Borda had the church of Santa Prisca built. After the Revolutionary War (1910-20) the region became increasingly impoverished until the American William Spratling (1900-67) settled there in 1930. He was successful in reviving the old artisan skills by bringing in silversmiths from Iguala and getting them to produce jewellery using the traditional Indian models.Today Taxco lives almost exclusively from tourism and the silversmiths' trade, the latter employing over 1500 craftsmen in several hundred tiny workshops scattered throughout the town. The silver used for this work is in fact an alloy made up of 950-980 grams of silver to 20-50 grams of copper.
The church of San Sebastián y Santa Prisca stands on the Plaza de la Borda. It was built by Diego Durán and Juan Caballero, and is considered a jewel of Churrigueresque architecture.
The Calle del Arco leads from the Zócalo to the Market (Mercado), which is well worth seeing. Further to the south-east is the Baroque Santísima Church dating from 1713, from which the Calles Real de San Nicolás and Progreso lead westwards to the Iglesia Ojeda (finished in 1822), which stands on a hill.
Going through the Calle de San Agustín from the church back towards the main square, the visitor will pass the Plaza de los Gallos, which is still suffused with the atmosphere of old Spain, and the Casa Figueroa (Calle Guadalupe 2). This building dating from the middle of the 18th c. was originally called "Casa de las Lágrimas" ("House of Tears"), because the nobleman who commissioned it, Conde de Cadena, had it built by Indians under conditions of slave labour, many of whom were literally worked to death. The artist Fidel Figueroa acquired it in 1943 and the house is now a museum which is looked after by his widow.
William Spratling Museum
Situated in Porfirio Delgado I, behind Santa Prisca, is the William Spratling Museum (Museo Guillermo Spratling), in which archaeological pieces from the western cultures and objects from Taxco's heyday as a silver town are on display.
On the Calle Juan Ruiz de Alarcón stands the Casa Humboldt, a magnificent building with a beautiful mudéjar gateway, which Juan de Villa-nueva had built in the 18th c. The name of the house is derived from the fact that in April 1803 the German naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt spent the night here during his travels through the Spanish West Indian colonies which lasted several years. He recorded his impressions in 35 volumes and on 1300 copper-plates. Today silverwork is displayed in the Casa Humboldt.
Convent of San Bernardino
The Calle Convento leads past the town hall to the former Convent of San Bernardino. The convent was originally a Franciscan foundation dating from the 16th c., but was burnt down during the 19th c. and then rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style.
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe
On a hill, looking in a south-westerly direction, is the church of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe. This church, which has a lovely view of the Zócalo and Santa Prisca, dates from the 18th c. and was restored in 1877.
Minibuses and taxis travel from the Zócalo to the base station of the cableway, which is in the north of the town near the Hacienda del Chorillo. The railway soars up to the 240 m (787 ft) high chain of hills called Lomas de Taxco. The view during the ascent and from the plateau is exceptional.
Every year during Holy Week a unique series of processions takes place in Taxco. They begin on Palm Sunday and reach their high point on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, when "penitentes" (penitents who wear foot chains), "encruzados" (faithful who drag heavy thorn bushes on their bare shoulders) and 'flagelentes' (penitents whipping themselves with thin scourges) make their way through the streets and hope thereby to gain redemption for their sins.
Centro de Cultura de Taxco (Antigua Casa Borda)
The Cultural Center was opened in 1992 and features ever-changing exhibits of photography, sculpture, and painting. The artwork displayed is both national and international.
Museo de Arte Virreinal de Taxco (Antigua Casa Humboldt)
Map of Taxco de Alarcon Attractions