Guanajuato is a municipality in Mexico and the capital city of the state of the same name. Located in north-central Mexico, the state of Guanajuato borders five other Mexican states: Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Querétaro and Jalisco. It is a five-hour drive northwest of Mexico City.
At one point in history, Guanajuato was known for producing the most silver extracted from the earth in the world. The city has many mineshafts that are no longer in use running throughout the area. The silver mines are so historical that some of the older neighborhoods in Guanajuato, Cata, Rayas y Mellado, La Pastita, San Luisito and Valenciana, carry their names.
The Michoacán–Guanajuato volcanic field is located in central Mexico, a strip of low-altitude cinder cones randomly scattered throughout the area. The most recent eruption was El Parícutin, which erupted in 1943 and was active until 1952. El Parícutin is considered a monogenetic volcano, just like others in the area, meaning that it only erupts once.
The Lerma River is a major waterway that runs through the state of Guanajuato. One of its major tributaries, the Guanajuato River, starts in the city of Guanajuato at the base of the Sierra de Guanajuato Mountains. During the mid-1900s, a dam was built in order to contain the river, which was initially underground and would often flood areas of the city.
The city is surrounded by the Sierra de Guanajuato Mountains of central Mexico and is in a narrow valley with homes and businesses built on hills and steep canyons. The city’s terrain has made roadways difficult to construct and its streets narrow and winding. Most are really alleys – called callejones – that cannot accommodate an automobile.
Many of the city’s streets are partially or fully underground. Guanajuato is famous for its series of tunnels that help divert traffic away from the city center. The tunnels were originally constructed to prevent the Guanajuato River from flooding the city. Guanajuato’s most famous thoroughfare is Calle Miguel Hidalgo, an underground roadway that follows the course of the old Guanajuato River for about 1.8 miles.
The historic center of the city has numerous small plazas and colonial-era mansions, churches and businesses that were mainly built using pink or green sandstone. Jardin Reforma is the most popular park in Zona Centro, the heart of the city. Locals and visitors enjoy its quiet and beauty close to the city’s center. Guanajuato is known as a university city and has a metropolitan area population today of about 175,000.
Guanajuato is in the Central Standard Time zone and observes daylight saving time beginning the first Sunday in April and ending the last Sunday in October.