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 was founded in 1546 and built over a rich vein of silver
discovered by Juan de Tolosa
in the same year. This and other mines
in the vicinity attracted a large population, and it soon became one of the chief mining centres of Mexico. In 1588 Philip II
, King of Spain
, gave Zacatecas its own coat of arms
. The Franciscans
built a college in 1616.
Silver from Zacatecas and from Potosí in Bolivia was coined as pieces of eight and transported around the world by the Spanish treasure fleets and the Manila galleons. It was this silver that helped pay for the wars of the Spanish Empire.
In May 1835, Mexican federalists in Zacatecas rose in revolt against Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who had suspended the Mexican Constitution and established a dictatorship the previous year. Santa Anna responded by crushing the rebels. He then rewarded his centralist soldiers by allowing them two days of rape and pillage in Zacatecas, during which more than two thousand noncombatants were killed.
In 1914, during the Mexican Revolution, Zacatecas witnessed the bloodiest combat of the Mexican Revolution, in a battle known as the Toma de Zacatecas (Taking of Zacatecas) between the Federal armies of Victoriano Huerta and the Constititutionalist troops of General Francisco Villa. Villa's victory led to the end of the Huerta regime. A monument to the battle and General Villa is at the summit of the Cerro de la Bufa overlooking the city.
Mining is now no longer as important a part of the local economy, and in fact the primary mine (the Mina El Edén) has been converted into a tourist attraction, including an underground disco in a large hollowed out cave. Indeed, the city of Zacatecas is a popular tourist destination for Mexicans, and many of the local businesses cater to them.
Tourism and culture
It is built in a deep, narrow ravine, 2496 m (8050 ft) above sea level,
with narrow, crooked streets (callejones
) climbing the steep hillsides, and white, flat-roofed houses. The colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage
site and 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.
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
- 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.
- Church of San Agustin: It has a plateresque facade decorated with a bas-relief.
- Parish of La Virgen del Patrocinio: It lies at the summit of a hill, Cerro de la Bufa. It was built in 1728.
- Del Cubo aqueduct: It runs through the city. It was constructed more than 250 years ago.
Zacatecas is home to the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ) and a branch of the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM).
Overlooking the city from an elevation of 150 m (500 ft) is the Cerro de la Bufa, a rocky outcropping crowned by a chapel and which is a popular spot for hiking and taking in the view of the city below. The city is also famous for its "Teleférico", an aerial tramway built by an Swiss company in 1978. The tramway starts at the Cerro del Grillo and "flies" over downtown Zacatecas giving passengers a breathtaking view of the city. The tramway then climbs up to the Cerro de la Bufa where passengers can either visit a museum or enjoy the view of the city.
Tourists particularly visit Zacatecas during the September Feria nacional de Zacatecas and again in the spring during Easter Week.
Club Deportivo Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas
|17 de Agosto del 2006|
|Tercera División de México|
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