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Zacatecas

Zacatecas is a city in Mexico, the capital of the state of Zacatecas. Silver attracted Spaniards to Zacatecas in the mid-1500s, and a century later the city was one of the wealthiest in New Spain. Mining flourished well into the 20th century, and continues in the area still. The inevitable result of this prosperity was that Zacatecas quickly became a city of political and religious importance, with the monumental architecture to go with that.

Zacatecas

Zacatecas has been called the city with the city "with a face of quarry and a silver heart" is situated in a valley surrounded by spectacular mountain range and deep canyons. This geography has created romantically charming streets that wrap and wind their way throughout the city, perfect for walking and exploring. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1993 in recognition of its architectural value and the beauty of its buildings and is considered one of Mexico's most photogenic cities. The colonial center features elaborately decorated buildings, old palaces, residences and mansions; cobblestoned streets, colonial fountains and wrought-iron lanterns. The more modern outer suburbs are a mix of cinderblock shanties and gated communities for the wealthy. The city is centered on the Plaza de Armas, a small open square bordered by the cathedral and old 18th century mansion that houses the governor's palace. Other small plazas and parks (jardines) dot the city, among them the Jardín de la Independencia and the tiny Jardín de Juárez where the municipal palace is installed. Churches abound, and many have recently been converted into art galleries or museums. Overlooking the city from an elevation of 150 m (500 ft) is the Cerro de la Bufa, a rocky outcropping crowned by a chapel and which is a popular spot for hiking and taking in the view of the city below. The city is also famous for its "Teleferico", an aerial tramway built by an Austrian company in 1978. The tramway starts at the Cerro del Grillo and "flies" over downtown Zacatecas giving passengers a breathtaking view of the city. The tramway then climbs up to the Cerro de la Bufa where passengers can either visit a museum or enjoy the view of the city. Tourists particularly visit Zacatecas during the September Feria nacional de Zacatecas and again in the spring during Easter Week.

Zacatecas has a full range of hotels and motels, and several very good restaurants serving both local specialities and international fare. The area is important in Mexico's slowly growing wine industry; reds from the Cacholá winery can be quite good, especially as an accompaniment to rich local dishes. A special treat for lodging is the Mesón de Jobito, a carefully restored 19th-century mansion offering large suites decorated in traditional Mexican colonial style, with large windows and balconies. Silverwork is the shopping must for those with money to spare. In addition to the specialist shops, there is the Centro Platero Zacatecano, a silversmithing school proud to sell students' creations.

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