The state of Zacatecas spans a territory of 75,040 square kilometers, covering a swath of the north-central plain of Mexico surrounded by mountain ranges. Zacatecas is bordered to the north by the state of Coahuila, to the east by San Luis Potosi, to the south and southeast by Jalisco and Aguascalientes, and to the west by Durango.
The region is characterized by a moderately dry climate, except for the very arid area of the northeast. The Zacatecan landscape is generally rocky, marked with deep canyons with tall vertical walls, mountain peaks, and plains with natural thermal springs. One of the peaks, “The Bufa,” is used as a symbol of this mining country, which is also known for the richness of its colonial architecture.
The state capital is the noble city of Zacatecas, which was founded in 1546 and which today is one of the cities which embodies Mexican tradition. Its history dates back to pre-Hispanic times, when the site was occupied by one of the settlements of the Chichimecas tribes, which included the Zacatecas, the Tecuexes, the Huachichiles, and the Caxanes. In 1531, the Spaniards conquered these lands, and they are known today as the municipality of Nochistlan.
The archaeological site of “La Quemada,” also known as “Chicomostoc,” is another of the most prominent pre-Hispanic ruins in the country. Built on the side wall of a hill as a series of artificial hanging patios, these ruins are located in the municipality of Villanueva, fifty miles south of city of Zacatecas.
Thanks to its mineral riches, Zacatecas became one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the Americas. A good example of the colonial heritage is the famous carved stonework of the cathedral of Zacatecas, whose facade is considered one of the most important works of baroque art in the continent.
The silver mined in Zacatecas is some of the world’s finest, and it has been used for minting coins in Central America and as far away as the Middle East and China. Shopping for silver items is a popular activity for visitors, who find fabulous works of silver craftsmanship for reasonable prices in local markets. The “Exhacienda of Bernandez” houses the school for silver artisans; it has become a major attraction for tourists who come to watch the entire process of silver-crafting, as the silver art progresses from raw material to the exquisite final touch of the craftsman.
Zacatecas has a very well-developed network of tourist services, including fine hotels and restaurants, excellent roads and highways, and an international airport.
ZACATECAS WILL CONQUER YOUR HEART!
The following article is reproduced with the kind permission of the Consul General in Austin Texas.
It first appeared in their Gaceta Consular, December 1996 – Austin, Texas – Year IV, Number 25