Taxco – Mexico’s silver mecca

Cathedral in Taxco

How could I forget to mention Taxco? (Especially when it is on the “list”) I have wanted to go there since I saw a picture of the rose-colored baroque cathedral perched dramatically on a hillside. In person it wasn’t sitting as dramatically as I remember, but it was still beautiful. Taxco was a slight detour from our Cuernavaca to Acapulco route and, unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy much of the city. Luckily, as we approached the city there was a nice pull off with gorgeous views where we snapped a few pictures. Most of the buildings are white with red tile roofs, a style I once thought of as Mexican but now realize it really a Spanish influence. The cathedral, Templo de Santa Prisca, was completed in 1758. The Churrigueresque facade towers above the stores along Plaza Borda and homes and has elaborate paintings and gold leaf sculptures inside. It is difficult to capture it all without the use of a flash or tripod. Very dramatic and intricate compared to what we have seen so far and very European. Most of the gold leaf has thick layers of dust. They are in the middle of a multi-million dollar restoration process for the entire cathedral but, from my interpretation of the signs, they have run out of money so efforts are currently on hold.

Set on a hillside with white-washed buildings and red tiled roofs, Taxco is beautiful from first glance.

The city is famous for silver production and you can’t walk more than a dozen steps without stumbling upon a silver shop. More accurately, you can’t walk more than a dozen steps without somebody coming up to you and trying to “guide” you into certain shops. I don’t know if it was the combination of two gringas walking around with Mex (whom they assumed spoke some Spanish) that drew the guides to him like bears to honey, but they relentlessly followed us everywhere. We would walk out of one store and they would immediately try to guide us to another. It got to be so oppressive that we started looking out the door first and then darting to the next store when the “guide” wasn’t looking.

Looking out over the rooftops of Taxco

The city seems to be entirely uphill with cobblestone streets that are so narrow in some places I felt like the three of us couldn’t even walk side by side. Somehow, little green and white slug bug taxis relentlessly zip up and down like mice in a maze. However, if you drive, I definitely recommend stopping at the very first parking lot you see and taking a taxi in to town. There are many one way streets and it is a very old city with very old roads and limited parking! If you are in Acapulco, Cuernavaca or Mexico City, you could easily do Taxco as a day trip on the bus. Just make sure to take the air-conditioned first class bus if you’re here during the hot months!

We gave up after about 20 silver shops which either had nothing we liked or what we liked was too out of our price range. At one store there was an intricate silver bracelet with small sapphires and matching earrings. The woman let me put it on and I had Mex talked in to it, assuming the set would be about $200. Nope! $6000! That bracelet flew off my wrist so fast I’m lucky that it didn’t break!

We ascended five flights of stairs to eat on a rooftop café with a view of the cathedral and plaza. Even

Dust-covered inside of the cathedral

though we were walking towards the staircase on our own, a guide still managed to come up to Mex and had us follow him up the stairs to the restaurant. I’m not sure what the point is in all that but I’m guessing there is some kind of commission involved. The stunning view of the cathedral and surrounding hills from the restaurant was almost worth the price for the not-so-tasty food. People had laundry hanging on rooftop clothes lines just like I remember in Jerusalem. I guess when you have no yard and no dryers you find the only space available. On the taxi ride to the car we saw a street a block from the zócalo that had some very nice non-silver crafts. We’ll save those for next time… and maybe some silver, too.

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Filed under Guerrero State, Mexico, Travel, Travel Tips

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