Zacatecas

Arguably one of the most spectacular of Mexico's "Silver Cities", central Zacatecas is a daunting maze of hilly one way streets and callejons. In fact, on the way in we had elected a hotel and as we passed the cathedral we could see it from across a plaza slightly downhill on the next street over. Twenty-five minutes later we had finally arrived after having traversed miles of one way streets. Too often we would arrive at what appeared to be a street on the map, that should of been heading in the direction that we wanted to go, only to find that it was actually a broad stairway. Once parked though, the town is easily navigated on foot. The easiest way to get an overview of the town's historic center is to ride the teleferico (below) to Cerro de la Bufa that overlooks the town.




Our hotel was just below the cathedral at the center of this telephoto shot above. As in most colonial towns in Mexico, the church so dominates the city's skyline that it becomes a ready reference point from just about anywhere in town.





At left above is the detailed baroque facade of the town's main cathedral. At right is an example of one of the many "streets" in the historic center that turn out not to be streets at all. In a vehicle, a destination a block away can take miles of driving.

 

Just south of the historic center the beautiful Parque Enrique Estrada is flanked on the east by the ancient aqueduct above, and on the west by this other stately church, its soaring spire mirrored by the swaying cypresses (below).



Zacatecas is as attractive at night as it is by day. With the main cathedral in the background, the Teatro Calderón is on the left. The street pictured was host earlier in the day to an annual carrera of vintage cars (below) that pass through Zacatecas enroute to Juarez.




Perhaps one of Zacatecas' most unique attractions is the museum housed in the spectacular former convent pictured above and below. Its maze of rooms and courtyards houses more than three thousand masks, and is said to have another seven thousand still in storage.




Masks here are made of all manner of materials, and in all manner of themes. A common, yet simple and elegant design is the mask at right that has extremely life-like eyes that open and close by pulling a string.


Another common style are those that depict the Spaniard conquistadors. Many of the masks are used in "dramas" played out on certain feast days.

Although we saw entire walls covered with masks on the same theme, we were unable to find any two that were exactly the same.




These more demonic styles above, are masks that are used in ritual dance.


In addition to masks, the museum also has one large hall full of elaborate dioramas consisting of hand made marionettes.