Pachuca

Capital of Hidalgo state, Pachuca, 94 km northeast of Mexico City, is also one of the oldest silver mining centres in Mexico. The Aztecs, Spaniards, and more recently the English, all mined here, leaving the hills honeycombed with old workings and terraced with tailings. The English also left a small culinary legacy with a Mexicanized version of a Cornish pasty, available all over town in cafés and fast food joints . Pachuca is home to a handful of mildly diverting attractions and makes a good base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Otherwise there's little reason to linger long in this provincial capital, pleasant enough though it is.

Sights

The city centre is partly pedestrianized and revolves around the Zócalo or Plaza de Independencia, where a large clock tower, designed by the makers of London's Big Ben, houses the city tourist office, www.turismo.hidalgo.gob.mx
. They are helpful and have a selection of some maps and flyers. Although the centre is largely modern, there are a number of colonial buildings among its narrow, steep and crooked streets. These include the treasury for the royal tribute,
Las Cajas Reales
(1670), Venustiano Carranza 106, now used as offices;
Las Casas Coloradas
(1785), on Plaza Pedro María Anaya, now the Tribunal Superior de Justicia; and the former
Convento de San Francisco
(1596) on Arista and Hidalgo next to Parque Hidalgo, now home to a good cultural centre . Modern buildings include a
theatre
, the
Palacio de Gobierno
(which has a mural depicting ex-President Echeverría's dream of becoming Secretary- General of the UN), and the
Banco de Hidalgo
. If Pachuca's mining history interests you, the
Museo de la Minería
, has excellent displays and photographic material. Note that an industrial heritage programme is under way to restore some of the old mining settlements; up-to-date information is available in the museum. For aerial views of the town, there is a mirador which can be reached by catching a 'mirador' bus from the Plaza de la Constitución. A steep 30-minute walk from there you'll arrive at the Monumento a Cristo Rey, a statue of Christ overseeing the city with outstretched arms. If you're in the market for crafts, head to the Casa de las Artesanías, at the junction of Revolución and Juárez.

Centro Cultural de Hidalgo

Hidalgo's state's premier cultural centre is worth checking out for its fine museums, archives, galleries and libraries. Located in the former Convento de San Fransisco, the 400-year-old colonial architecture is an attraction in itself. The outstanding
photographic museum
is in the large cloister on the far side of the convent; it has international and historical images from renowned photojournalists. Nearby is the
Fototeca
, with an archive of over one million images that you can search and print for a small fee. Also in the cultural centre is the
Museo Regional de Historia
, which displays chronological exhibits of the state's history. In this complex there is also a library, exhibition hall and souvenir shop, with reproductions of ceramic and metal anthropological items and recordings of indigenous music.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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