Guadalajara Self-Guided Walking Tour
The aroma of spicy Mexican delights being cooked up, narrow roads packed with cars, street performers vying for the audience’s applause, along with their cash and stunning buildings at every turn. That is exactly what you can expect from Guadalajara and a taster of things to come on your Guadalajara self-guided walking tour.
After spending weeks relaxing on beaches in the USA and Mexico. Most notably relaxing on the white sands of Balandra Beach. It was finally time for our first Mexican city destination – Guadalajara. I was sceptical prior to my arrival. I didn’t know what to expect from Mexico’s second most populous city.
Oh, how wrong I was to be sceptical. Guadajalara is one of those places where you can walk around for hours upon hours. You’ll be looking at something new and fascinating all the time. The historical centre of Guadalajara is where it’s at. Guadalajara’s historic centre is full to the brim with buildings which have a clear Spanish colonial style influence and neoclassic design.
Colonialism was bad, terrible in fact and it’s something which should always be condemned, never celebrated. Contrastingly, the style of building which is left behind is something to celebrate. The beauty of the historical centre of Guadalajara will leave you in awe.
There are plenty of guided walking tours which you can organise through your hostel/hotel or through tour companies in the city. Yes, these tours can be useful and informative. However, it’s a lot of people’s preference – including my own – to walk around exploring at their own pace, doing their own thing. My tip would be to get a route in your mind and do a self-guided walking tour of the historical centre. That way, you can go at your own pace, see what you want and do what you want.
To save you the trouble, I’ve devised a Guadalajara self-guided walking tour route for you. This route is brought together from personal experience and one which I have taken myself during my stay in Guadalajara.
Guadalajara Self-Guided Walking Tour
Plaza De La Constitucion AKA Plaza De Armes
You’re unlikely to see this area without tonnes of people enjoying live music or entertainment. The centre of the plaza is occupied by a french-style kiosk. The kiosk was built to commemorate the centennial of Mexican independence.
There’s plenty of cafes and restaurants on the plaza, so it makes a perfect people watching spot while relaxing with some drink or food. If you’d rather not spend money, you will be sure to find some sort of entertainment in the plaza, whether that be catchy live music or a dodgy clown act.
An impressive landmark by all means. Guadalajara Cathedral is the poster boy for the city of Guadalajara. The cathedral stands proudly today after it’s destruction due to multiple fires and earthquakes. The neogothic towers rise above the surrounding buildings in Guadalajara’s historic centre.
Plaza de la Rotunda
The 17 columns and the circular structure which they hold up, stand as the centrepiece in Plaza de la Rotunda. The plaza contains 24 bronze statues to commemorate the men and women who have made an important contribution to society in Jalisco. Although, it wasn’t until 2000 when women finally got the recognition they deserve on Plaza de la Rotunda!
It’s unlikely you’ll visit Plaza Guadalajara and find it void of crowds of people. The plaza always seems to be teeming with life. Whether that be on a normal weekday, a busy Sunday afternoon or even in the middle of the night. The constant streams of people can make it difficult to take some Instagram-worthy pictures, but if you’re patient you can get that perfect snap.
Teatro Degollado is well regarding for its commitment to hosting diverse performances. The theatre is located on the opposite size of Plaza Guadalajara to the cathedral. The exterior of the theatre is well worthy of a building to host any artistic performance. If you can, head inside the theatre as well. This is where you will find the most famous aspect of the theatre, the stunning painted mosaics.
Located behind Teatro Degollado you will find Plaza Fundadores. The bronze mural which stands behind a water feature stands 3 metres tall and 21 metres long. The mural represents the founding fathers of Guadalajara, a group of 3 Spaniards.
Escudo de Armes
This imposing bronze statue represents the Coat of Arms of the City of Guadalajara. The statue is made up of two lions grasping an oak tree.
Another plaza, yep. Plazas are one thing Guadalajara’s historic centre is not short of. Not as if that’s a bad thing when Guadalajara can make a plaza as beautiful as they do. Completion of Plaza Tapatia was in 1982. The idea of the plaza was to unify Guadalajara’s east and west (unsure how a plaza would do that). The main feature of the plaza is the sky-high sculpture in the centre.
Plaza de Iberoamerica
Yet another plaza. Plaza de Iberoamerica is home to some whacky and creative sculptures. The artwork which was installed in 1993, is by artist Alejandro Colunga. The group of sculptures goes by the name “Sala de Los Magos” which translates to Magicians Living Room.
Oh, a word of warning, do not sit on the seated sculptures when it’s hot. The sculptures are metal and they get scorching. Olivia learnt this the hard way!
Plaza de Iberoamerica also leads right up to the Cabanas Cultural Institute. This plaza is the perfect accompaniment to the Cultural Institute. The fountain running through the centre of the plaza makes for an excellent spot to get some snaps of the Cabanas Cultural Institute.
Cabanas Cultural Institute
Another stunningly designed neoclassic building. The neoclassic designs of several buildings in Guadalajara give this city its identity. Originally opened as an orphanage in 1810, the then known as ‘House of Mercy’, was forced to house hundreds of soldiers during the independence war. Finally, in 1983 the now names ‘Cabanas Cultural Insitute’ became a centre for arts and culture.
Exactly what you would expect from a Mexican market. Chaos, hustle, bustle and plenty of traditional, flavoursome food on offer. After a long morning or afternoon of strolling around the historical centre, I would recommend a pit stop at Mercado Libertard for some lunch. My recommendation is the famous Guadalajara dish Tortas Ahogadas (a pork sandwich drenched in tomato salsa).
Basilica del Sagrado Corazon
The finale of the Guadalajara self-guided walking tour is at the Basilica del Sagrado Corazon. An easy walk from Mercado Libertard to walk off that lunch. The basilica is a beautiful structure and a worthy place to finish off the walk around the historic centre. After you’ve taken a few snaps, find yourself a spot to sit on the steps and take in the surroundings and locals going about their daily business.
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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.
Are you planning a trip to Guadalajara? Would you walk around the historical centre without a guide after reading this Guadalajara self-guided walking tour guide?