5 Reasons to Visit Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara Streetscape

We must confess we were nervous heading into Guadalajara, Mexico but we stepped out of our comfort zone and headed there for 3 nights in 2015.  Why were we so nervous?  The nervousness came about a few months earlier when CNN reported that the drug cartels of Mexico had blown up banks and gas stations in and around Guadalajara.  Expats had to drive into town in convoys to purchase groceries, buy fuel and do their every day chores.  We had a house sit close by where we were due to spend 2 months, on checking with the Home Owner we mutually decided it was not considered safe enough. We were so glad a few years later we had decided to visit Guadalajara.

We found a colonial city of incredible architecture, lots to see and do and you should plan to visit on a Sunday.  On Sundays join the locals and enjoy a morning where cars are prohibited on Avenidas Vallarta and Juarez.

Check out this great guide on the best restaurants in Guadalajara before you head off sightseeing.

1.  Guadalajara’s Cathedral

Guadalajara's Cathedral

Guadalajara’s Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Cathedral certainly has a history:

  • It was first constructed in 1541
  • May 30, 1574 it caught fire as a result of neighbors firing shots into the air which fell onto the cathedral.
  • February 1618 the renovated cathedral was completed.
  • 1818 an earthquake caused the dome and the tower to collapse
  • In 1849 these had been reconstructed only to suffer another earthquake and rebuilt again in 1854
  • Earthquakes in 1932, 1957, 1979, 1985, 1995 and 2003 have caused the North Tower to tilt and more structural damage to the Tower

2.  Car Free Sunday

Sunday in Guadalajara

Sunday in Guadalajara

Join the locals on the main east-west arterials Avenues of Vallarta and Juarez.  You can cycle, walk, skate down the streets as street performers perform either side of you from 7am to 2pm.

3.  Street Vibe and Shopping

One place to purchase a Sombrero in Guadalajara

One place to purchase a Sombrero

Guadalajara - great city for leather boots

Guadalajara – great city for leather boots

Colonial Home of Conqueror Juan de Saldivar

Colonial Home of Conqueror Juan de Saldivar

This is the colonial home of the Conqueror Juan de Saldivar which dates back to 1589.  The colonial home was also used for the Headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.  The alley where is it located is known as the Rincon del Diablo translated means the Devil’s Nook.  Legend states that supernatural encounters and deaths have taken place in the home.

4.  Plazas

Street Vibe Guadalajara

Street Vibe Guadalajara

Plaza Tapatia has many statues and interesting shops to view as you wander down its vast length where at the far end lies Instituto Cultural Cabanas.

Originally a hospice that provided care for invalids, handicapped people, old people and orphans at the beginning of the 19th century.  The chapel contains murals of the famous Jose Clemente Orozco.

Monumento Hidalgo in Guadalajara

Monumento Hidalgo

In the North section of Plaza deLiberacion you will find the statue dedicated to Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costill who signed the Mexican Declaration of Independence in the Governor’s Office.

Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres in Guadalajara

Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres

The Rotonda is a mausoleum containing the ashes of 98 men and women who were important to the city and who were born locally in the state of Jalisco.

Bronze Sculpture in Commemoration of the City's Founders of Guadalajara

Bronze Sculpture in Commemoration of the City’s Founders

The bronze sculpture commemorates the city’s founders and was created by Rafael Zamarripa.

5.  Palacio de Gobierno

Palacio de Gobierno in Guadalajara

Palacio de Gobierno

Murals lining the staircase within Palacio de Gobierno

Murals lining the staircase within Palacio de Gobierno

The Murals are by Jose Clemente Orozco and the building has a section on the history of Jalisco.  The original building collapsed during an earthquake in 1750 and it was subsequently rebuilt in the baroque style.
It is located at 43 Corona street at the Historic Center.

We would encourage you to visit Guadalajara if you are in the area.

If you enjoyed this article on Guadalajara in Mexico you may enjoy  our many other articles on Mexico. Click here.

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  • Annick says:

    I’m so glad to hear that Guadalajara is worth the visit. Unfortunately bad news tend to stick around for so long and keeps visitors away. I love that the two avenues are closed on Sunday so everyone can enjoy the outdoors. It’s good to know that a Sunday visit is a must. And what an interesting past with the church and the Spanish Inquisition!

    • Hi Annick
      Thanks for your comments. We were so pleased that the drug cartels in this area had moved along and that the city could get back to normality.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • I can see why you’d be nervous after watching that kind of news about drug cartel actions, so I’m happy that you had a wonderful trip in the end. Thanks for the tip to include a Sunday so you can appreciate the central avenues free of vehicles! The Palacio de Gobierno looks particularly of interest.

  • Guadalajara looks like a very interesting place to explore. I love the statues in the plaza, reminds me of piss manequins of Brussels. The no car Sunday is an awesome idea to bring down pollution levels and encourage cycling. I love the murals in Palacio de Gobierno

    • Hi Sinjana
      Thanks for your comments.We love the idea of no car Sunday and to see all the families out exercising and enjoying being together.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • umiko says:

    It’s always interesting to find out about cities in Mexico that are clean and full with historical buildings from the Spanish era, like Guadalajara. The car free Sunday is absolutely a nice way to give its people a special time to enjoy their city while socializing through bicycle, walking, or skating down the street. I never thought that these are what people will find when traveling to Guadalajara.

  • blair villanueva says:

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of Guadalajara! Mexico is considered a sister-country of the Philippines as we are both been colonized by Spain hundreds of years ago. How I wish to visit this sister country in the future 😀

    • Hi Blair
      Thanks for your comments. Mexico is fascinating and I hope you can visit one day as we hope we can visit the Philippines one day too.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Well, it started on a scary note but you gave such convincing reasons to go to Guadalajara. I totally loved the murals lining the staircase within Palacio de Gobierno. Car free Sunday is a great idea. And there is so much more. There is cathedral, plazas and leather boots. Well, I like such slow and easy places with lots of history and character.

  • Yukti says:

    After reading your Mexico posts, I am getting more and more temptation to book my tickets to Mexico. I loved all the 5 reasons to visit Guadalajara, especially the street vibes and shopping area. Would love to check out some boots there. Palacio de Gobierno looks quirky palace and also the mural looks interesting. Would love to know the story behind this mural.

  • Parnashree Devi says:

    Wow ..I didn’t even know about this place called Guadalajara. It seems like a city with a lot of architectural gems. Great knowing about it through your post. Shopping scene looks exciting, especially the boots. Loved reading about it.

    • Hi Parnashree
      Thanks for your comments. The boots were very tempting but seeing we only travel with a carry-on I could not buy any.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

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