Guanajuato (Spanish pronunciation: [gwanaËˆxwato]), officially Free and Sovereign State of Guanajuato (Spanish: Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato), is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, are the 32 Federal entities ofMexico. It is divided into 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato. The largest city in the state is León.
It is located in North-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Jalisco to the west, Zacatecas to the northwest, San Luis Potosí to the north, Querétaro to the east and Michoacán to the south. It covers an area of 30,608 km2(11,818 sq mi).
Guanajuato is located between the arid north of the country and the lusher south, and it is geographically part of theTrans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, the Mexican Plateau and the Sierra Madre Oriental. It was initially settled by the Spanish in the 1520s due to mineral deposits found around the now capital city of Guanajuato, but areas such as the Bajío region also became important for agriculture and livestock. Mining and agriculture have been the traditional mainstays of the state's economy, but today, about 30% of the state's GDP is accounted for by industry, which includes metals, automobiles, leather goods, processed foods and more.
The state is home to several historically important cities, especially those along the "Bicentennial Route", which retraces the path of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's insurgent army at the very beginning of the Mexican War of Independence. This route begins at Dolores Hidalgo, and passes though the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, San Miguel de Allende, Celaya and the capital of Guanajuato. Other important cities in the state include León, the most populous, and Irapuato.
About 95% of the state's visitors are from Mexico, with the rest from other countries. Within the state, there are about seventy hotels ranked as four or five stars. The three main cities for tourism are the capital city of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo. Guanajuato is visited for its colonial architecture and its role in Mexico's history, especially during the War of Independence. Similarly, San Miguel has cultural and historical value. Both have been designated World Heritage Sites. Although not a World Heritage Site, Dolores Hidalgo is particularly important as the site as it is where Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the cry called "El Grito" which began the War of Independence.
The state has set up tourist routes such as the Ruta de Independencia, Ruta de Aventura (Aventure Route), Ruta Arqueológica (Archeological Route), Ruta de los Conventos (Monastery Route) and Ruta Artesanal (Handcrafts Route). The Ruta de la Independencia or Independence Route comprises ten municipalities through which the insurgent army under Miguel Hidalgo passed. These include San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, León, Irapuato, Pénjamo, Salamanca, Celaya, Salvatierra and Acámbaro. In preparation for the Bicentennial of Mexico's independence, the state rehabilitated and marked the sites in which the significant historic events occurred in each of these locations.
The Ruta de Aventura connects ghost towns and abandoned mines with natural areas for hiking, mountain biking and ATV as well as other extreme sports such asparagliding. One of the ghost towns is Mineral de Pozos in the northeast of the state. The town still has its cobblestone streets with names such as Relámpago (lightning), Estrellas (stars) and Flores (Flowers). The houses here are abandoned, many in ruins and none with roofs. The town reached it height during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was called Ciudad Porfirio Díaz, but the mines later gave out and the population left. In 1982, the town was declared a Historic Monument Zone. Although no one lives there, tourism keeps a few businesses alive around the main square such as the Pozos cantina, which exhibits photographs and other memorabilia on its walls. Outside the town is the Santa Brigida mine which sustained the town until it gave out. It is marked by three large ovens with tall pyramid roofs. These were constructed by the Jesuits to work ore from the mine. The Ruta Arqueológica (Archeological Route) links the two pre-Hispanic sites of Plazuelas and Peralta which are currently open to visitors with two others which are scheduled to be opened sometime in the future: La Virgen de la Cañada in San Miguel de Allende and El Cóporo in Ocampo.
The Ruta de los Conventos or Monastery Route is concentrated in the south of the state, where a number of large religious complexes were built in the early colonial period for evangelization purposes. The Agustino de San Pablo Church and Monastery is located in Yuriria founded by the Augustinians who arrived from Michoacán in the 16th century. It is a monumental fortress-like construction designed by Friar Diego de Chávez y Alvarado and Pedro del Toro and constructed in an area with relatively little population. The monastery became a center from which missionaries would be trained and then sent forth and its size and battlements helped to protect it from Chichimeca attacks. The church retains its original function and Plateresque facade, but the monastery area has been converted into a museum. The Las Capucinas Church and Convent is in Salvatierra and is one of only three complexes built for nuns in the entire state during the colonial period. It has a fortress like appearance and its construction is attributed to Joaquin de Heredia, of the San Carlos Academy. During the Porfirio Díaz presidency, the convent was used as a Civil Hospital and later as a school, which still remains with the name of Colegio José María Morelos. The San Francisco Church and Monastery is in Acámbaro and built between 1734 and 1743. Its facade is Baroque of light pink stone. Inside, the church contains one of the most notable main altars in the Bajio region. It is Neoclassical built of gray and pink stone with gilded details, with an image of the Virgen María Refugio de Pecadores (Virgin Mary Refuge of Sinners), which is replica of an image inZacatecas.
The Ruta Artesanal (Handcrafts Route) connects a number of municipalities which specialize in one or more handcrafted items, including food. These include Acámbaro, noted for its bread, Coroneo for its wool items and Tarancuaro for ceramics.
The state also has a large number of water parks and thermal springs converted into water parks. Some of these include El Trébol, Villa Gasco and Comanjilla near León, Caldera Abasolo near Irapuato and Abasolo and Los Arcos and Agua Caliente near Celaya.