|City & Municipality|
|Founded as||Real de Minas de Guanajuato|
|• Municipality||996.74 km2 (384.84 sq mi)|
|• Urban||72.54 km2 (28.01 sq mi)|
|Elevation (of seat)||2,000 m (6,600 ft)|
|• Density||172.27/km2 (446.2/sq mi)|
|(in Spanish) Guanajuatense|
| • Summer (|
|Postal code (of seat)||36000|
|Website||(in Spanish) |
|Official name||Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines|
|Criteria||I, II, IV, VI|
|Designated||1988 (12th |
|State Party|| |
Guanajuato (Spanish pronunciation:
The growth of Guanajuato resulted from the abundantly available minerals in the mountains surrounding it. The mines were so rich that the city was one of the most influential during the colonial period. One of the mines, La Valenciana, accounted for two-thirds of the world’s silver production at the height of its production.
The city is home to the
The first known inhabitants of the area were the
Mining had been done in this area long before the Spanish arrived. Late in the pre-Hispanic period the Aztecs had a presence here, specifically to look for metals to make ornamental objects for their political and religious elite. Some stories from this time state that the area was so rich in minerals that nuggets of gold could be picked up from the ground.
The Spanish found deposits of gold here in the 1540s and soon they sent soldiers and built forts. In 1548, the outpost formally established with the name of Real de Minas de Guanajuato by viceroy Don
Initially, the city was divided into four barrios or neighborhoods called Marfil/Santiago, Tepetapa, Santa Ana and Santa Fe. The last is considered the oldest and is in the current colonia of Pastita. This city was split by a small river that served as a main thoroughfare. The oldest neighborhoods are Rayas y Mellado, Cata, La Valenciana, and Pastita, named after the mines found there.
The very first mineral vein discovered, called San Bernabé, attracted attention not only in
In 1679, by decree of
In 1741, the city received the title of “The Most Noble and Loyal City of Santa Fe de Minas de Guanajuato” and became an “intendencia” (province) in 1790 because of the abundance of riches coming from its mines. In the 18th century, it was the world’s leading silver extraction center, making it the richest city in Mexico for much of the early colonial period. The production of the La Valenciana mine alone affected the world economy, and made the counts of Valencianas one of the most powerful families in New Spain. The city was one of the richest and most opulent in New Spain in the 18th century. This wealth is manifested in its civil and religious architecture. The colonial architecture includes some of the best
By the end of the 18th century, the lower classes were poor and oppressed despite the great wealth coming out of the mines. One event foreshadowing the
The War of Independence broke out in the state of Guanajuato in the town of
After Independence, the province of Guanajuato was made a state, and the city was made its capital in 1824. However, fighting in the state and the rest of the country continued as Liberals, who wanted a Federalist government, fought with Conservatives, who wanted a centralized government under a monarch or dictator. Power in the city and state changed hands between the two factions during much of the 19th century, taking its toll on mining. The city was the provisional capital of the country in 1858 as Liberal president
Mining reactivated around the 1870s due to foreign investments encouraged by the
Flooding had been a serious problem through most of the city’s history, due to the area’s steep compact hillsides. In 1760 and 1780 two major floods nearly wiped it out. This spurred construction of large ditches and tunnels to contain and divert overflows during the rainy season. These eventually crisscrossed a large part of the city. Dam construction in the 1960s brought the flooding under control, and many of the ditches and tunnels were converted into underground roadways.