Sure the plazuelas of Guanajuato are pretty, the tunnels fun to drive around in, and the buildings are rich with history. With any other city, that would be quite sufficient to make it a memorable travel destination. But Guanajuato somehow kicks it up a notch and manages to charm its visitors even more than your average tourist destination.
Up the hillsides in all directions are mazes of small winding alleyways called “callejones” that are not only fun to walk, but an absolute visual delight. I spent mornings, afternoons, and evenings exploring these colorful streets…
In the mornings, I would often find lots of work being done to prepare for the day’s commerce-- the bottled water getting delivered throughout town, the beer vendors carting their cervezas to waiting restaurants, and even the fashion model working her morning photo shoot!
There was a beautiful arched walkway connecting Juarez Street to the callajon just south of it. In the afternoon light, this place became pure magic!
Another wonderful place for arches, was the courtyard just south of the Plaza del Baratillo:
And these arches inside a hotel along Sopeña street:
And Guanajuato’s oldest surviving arched entrance to it’s original hospital (built between 1560-1565)!
And, of course, the arched entryways to all of its tunnels throughout town!
Undoubtedly, the most famous of Guanajuato’s callejones is the “Callejon de Beso” (the Alley of the Kiss). Click the link for the full story of the legend, but suffice to say, this callejon is so narrow that it once allowed Guanajuato’s Romeo and Juliet to share a final kiss from their balconies. Today, it’s a popular tourist stop…VERY popular! But after trying a few more times, I finally was able to snap a shot with no people in it!
I spent a couple days and evenings photographing a few of my favorite spots and it was fascinating to see the scene change based on time of day. Like this street near the Plaza de la Paz:
Or this callejon behind the Templo de San Francisco that I shot morning, afternoon, and night!
and this one…
Other landmarks seemed to come alive at night as well. Teatro Juarez is quite ornate and appealing during the daytime, but at night, it becomes simply magnificent!
The same effect happens with the Basilica and Plaza de la Paz!
One would think walking an alleyway at night, alone, in a foreign country (with expensive camera gear!!!) might be a tad bit intimidating and scary. But I never had the slightest fear. Perhaps it was because there were always so many other photographers, filmmakers, families, and friendly people walking around with me, or maybe just because it was virtually impossible for these charming callejones to ever feel intimidating or scary…
As evening approaches in Guanajuato, the buzz begins to grow at the main meeting place, the Jardin de la Union in front of the Templo de San Diego.
The cute dogs take their places on the balconies and in the square:
The young University students hanging out in front of Teatro Juarez become more animated trying to decide which Romeo will pair up with which Juliet for the evening.
The mariachi players start warming up…
and soon begin to assist the young gentlemen in swooning their young ladies in the plaza…
Guanajuato has a very special tradition of “Callejoneadas” (street serenades), where handsome young University men dress up in Renaissance attire to gather people to follow their minstrels from the Templo de San Diego to various callejones and plazuelas around town as the minstrels sing songs and tell stories and jokes. Donkeys are even engaged to carry large packs of wine for the party-goers to drink along the way.
Although I neglected to stay long enough for the wine-carrying donkeys, I did listen to one group starting their Callejoneada on the Friday evening and capture this quick video. What a magical night!
As I made my way out of the tunnel for the final time, I left with the feeling of being thoroughly charmed and seduced by this wonderful city. Not only had Guanajuato delighted my visual senses, but my aural senses as well. I will love to return to this wonderful place again and again!