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Historic Centre of Zacatecas*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Zacatecas cathedral, built between 1729 and 1753, regarded by many as the last, and greatest, expression of the churrigueresque (Mexican Baroque) style
State Party  Mexico
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 676
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1993  (17th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Nickname(s): The Noble & Loyal City
Zacatecas is located in Mexico
Coordinates: 22°50′N 102°32′W / 22.833°N 102.533°W / 22.833; -102.533
Country  Mexico
State Zacatecas
Municipality Zacatecas
Founded September 8, 1546
 - Mayor Cuahutemoc Calderon Galvan
 - Municipality 443.9 km2 (171.4 sq mi)
Elevation 2,500 m (8,202 ft)
Population (2005)
 - Total 122,889
 - Municipality 132,035
 - Demonym Zacatecano
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Postal code 98000
Area code(s) 492

Zacatecas is a city in Mexico, the capital of the state of Zacatecas. It was founded 1548, two years after the nearby discovery of silver, and became an officially-recognized city in 1584. Its population as of the 2005 census was 122,889. Zacatecas is also the municipal seat of the municipality of Zacatecas which surrounds the city. The municipality had a population of 132,035 and an area of 444 km² (171.4 sq mi). The city is the largest in the state, slightly larger than Fresnillo (pop. 110,892), but the municipality of Fresnillo (pop. 196,538) has a greater area, with more population in its outlying communities.



"Zacatecas" is the Nahuatl name for the indigenous people who inhabited the area before the arrival of the Spanish. The name ultimately derives from the Nahuatl word for a type of grass common in the region, zacatl. The region where this grass grew was originally called Zacatlan, and its inhabitants, Zacatecas.


Zacatecas is one of the highest cities in Mexico, located at 2496 m (8050 ft) above sea level. It was built in a narrow valley between two rocky outcrops, the Cerro de la Bufa to the northeast, 150 m (500 ft) above the valley floor, and the smaller Cerro del Grillo (Cricket Hill) to the northwest. Zacatecas is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer, in the Mexican Plateau, a region of arid deserts and xeric shrublands, cut off from oceanic trade winds by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental mountains.



Colonial Era

Basque explorer Juan de Tolosa discovered a vein of silver here on September 8, 1546, the day of the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, who became Zacatecas' patron saint. Zacatecas began as a mining camp; due to its remote location deep in the lands of hostile Chichimec nomads, it had difficulty attracting settlers until the true size of its silver deposits became apparent in the late-1550s. In 1585 Zacatecas received the title "Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de Zacatecas" from Philip II, King of Spain, and in 1588 he gave Zacatecas its own coat of arms. By the early seventeenth century, it was the third-largest city in New Spain, after Mexico City and Puebla, and its fabulously wealthy silver barons considered it to be the colony's second city in terms of wealth and sophistication. Five major religious orders had establishments in Zacatecas, and the Franciscans built a college there in 1616.[1]

By the early eighteenth century, the mines of Zacatecas were producing up to one-third of New Spain's silver, and a fifth of the world's supply.[2] Silver from Zacatecas and from Potosí in Bolivia was coined as pieces of eight. Indigenous serfs and African slaves were forced to work under brutal conditions; an average of five people died each day from accidents or diseases like tuberculosis and silicosis. Pack trains carried silver from Zacatecas and other mining towns to Mexico City, and from there to the ports of Veracruz and Acapulco. From Veracruz, the Spanish treasure fleets brought it across the Atlantic, where it transformed the economies of Europe and helped pay for the wars of the Spanish Empire. The Manila galleons sailing from Acapulco brought silver across the Pacific, using it to purchase the silks, spices and porcelain of Asia.

19th and 20th Centuries

In 1810, a mint was established in Zacatecas, and its importance grew after local mines survived Mexico's War of Independence relatively unscathed. During the first decades of Mexican independence, Zacatecas was one of the wealthiest cities in the young nation; the local elite resisted heavy-handed rule from distant Mexico City, siding with the federalist party in the civil wars between Federalists and Centralists of Mexico's chaotic and short-lived First Republic. In May 1835, Zacatecas rose in revolt against Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who had suspended the federalist constitution and established a dictatorship the previous year. Santa Anna responded by crushing the rebels, rewarding his soldiers by allowing them two days of rape and pillage in Zacatecas, during which more than two thousand noncombatants were killed.

Painting of the Toma de Zacatecas, Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City

In June 1914, Zacatecas witnessed the bloodiest battle of the Mexican Revolution, known as the Toma de Zacatecas (Taking of Zacatecas). The División del Norte of General Francisco "Pancho" Villa stormed Cerro de la Bufa, where 12,000 of the best-trained soldiers of the Federal army of Victoriano Huerta were entrenced. Villa's victory gave the Constitutional Army rail access to Mexico City, and led to the fall of the Huerta regime, which, with the loss of the cities' valuable mint, lacked sufficient funds to continue the war.

Beginning in 1884, the Mexico Central Railway first linked Zacatecas to Ciudad Juarez, and the railway became a catalyst for major immigration to the United States in the 20th century.[3] As international prices for silver and other minerals declined, mines were abandoned, and hundreds of thousands of Zacatecanos moved north, mainly to Texas, California, Arizona and Colorado. Decades of economic recession helped preserve the historic center of Zacatecas, which in 1993 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the state of Zacatecas is still one of the world's leading producers of silver, tourism has overtaken it as the most important economic activity.

Tourism and culture

View of Zacatecas from the cable-car that runs between its two highest hills
Equestrian statue of Pancho Villa, atop Cerro de la Bufa, site of his greatest victory
A marching band in the Plaza de Armas

Zacatecas is built in a deep, narrow ravine, with narrow, crooked streets (callejones in Spanish) climbing the steep hillsides, and white, flat-roofed houses. The UNESCO-preserved 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, and big-box stores. 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 (19 m²) Jardín de Juárez where the municipal palace is installed. Churches abound, and many have recently been converted into art galleries or museums.

  • Cathedral: It is one of the most beautiful examples of churrigueresque architecture in Mexico. It is an elaborately carved red-stone (cantera) structure that was built between 1730 and 1760. It is flanked by two towers with an exuberant ornamentation and has a notable facade that was richly sculpted but its once decorated interior was looted during the civil wars of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its cupola was reconstructed in 1836 and imitates that one of the church of Nuestra Señora de Loreto in Mexico City.
  • Church of Santo Domingo: Almost in front of the cathedral, on one of the corners of the Plaza de Armas, lies Veyna Alley, leading to the church of Santo Domingo that was built by the Jesuits between 1746 and 1749 and has a beautiful baroque facade. Splendid gold wood-carved altarpieces, all of them churrigueresque, and Francisco Antonio Vallejo paintings (XVIII) that represent scenes of The Passion can be found inside.
  • College of La Compañía de Jesus: It shows a richly sculpted facade; the cloister is surrounded by halls whose vaults are decorated with cherubim.
  • Parish of La Virgen del Patrocinio: It lies at the summit of Cerro de la Bufa. Erected by the first settlers, it was re-built twice, in 1728 and 1791.
  • Del Cubo aqueduct: It runs through the city. It was constructed more than 250 years ago.

Some of the museums in the city include the Casa Moneda, Zacatecas' former mint; the Museo Zacatecano, largely devoted to Huichol art; the Museo Pedro Coronel, located in a former Jesuit college, which houses the collection of local artist Pedro Coronel, with his own works as well as paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Miró, and some ink drawings by Francisco de Goya; and the Museo Rafael Coronel, with the Mexican folk art collection of the younger brother of Pedro Coronel, son-in-law of Diego Rivera and an influential painter in his own right.[4]

The summit of Cerro de la Bufa is a crowned by the Parish of La Virgen, and a monument to the Toma de Zacatecas, with a museum and three large equestrian statues of Pancho Villa and his two main generals, Felipe Ángeles and Panfilo Natera. Inside "Cerro del Grillo" is the Mina El Edén; the mine was in operation from 1585 to the the 1960s, the fourth or its seven layers has been turned into a museum, with displays on mining over the centuries, and the tunnel at the entrance becomes an underground disco by night. A "Teleférico", an aerial tramway, built by a Swiss company in 1978, travels between the summits of Cerro del Grillo and Cerro de la Bufa, giving passengers a breathtaking view of downtown Zacatecas.

Zacatecas is home to the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ) and a branch of the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM).

The last weekend in August, the city celebrates La Morisma, with upwards of 2,000 people participating in mock battles commemorating the triumph of the Christians over the Moors in old Spain. The annual Feria de Zacatecas is held during the first three weeks in September, and features bullfighting, charreadas, concerts, plays, a film festival, and agriculture and craft shows. In October, there is a major street-theater festival. Zacatecas is famous for its marching bands, who can be seen most weekends in the cities plazas and alleyways. Zacatecas March the state and cities anthem, is considered by many Mexico's second national anthem. During the era of the PRI, it was played at virtually every political rally.



Club Sport Founded League Logo
Barreteros Basketball ? LNBP
Club Deportivo Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas[5] Fútbol 17 August 2006 Tercera División de México

Sister cities

Zacatecas has these sister cities:

El Paso, Texas, United States
Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
Azusa, California, United States


  1. ^ P.J. Blackwell, 'Zacatecas: An Economic and Social Outline of a Silver-Mining District,' Pg. 4
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lonely Planet Mexico, Pg. 586-589
  5. ^ Club Deportivo Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas


External links

Coordinates: 22°46′N 102°33′W / 22.767°N 102.55°W / 22.767; -102.55


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