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A stroll around Guadalajara’s historic downtown is a feast for the eyes and will explain why it is sometimes called the "Florence of Mexico.”

Catedral de Guadalajara
Guadalajara's main cathedral is the city’s most iconic landmark. Twin 19th-century neo-Gothic bell towers rise above the original 16th- and 17th-century Spanish Renaissance-style structure giving it a unique mix of architectural styles. The cathedral’s interior includes Tuscan-style gold-leaf pillars, Gothic vaults, 11 altars gifted to Guadalajara by King Fernando VII of Spain, and Mexico’s largest organ.

Government Palace
Built in the 18th-century by Manuel José Conique and Nicolas Enrique del Castillo, this beautiful building features a Baroque façade with a clock tower, large windows, and beautiful balconies. But perhaps its greatest treasure lies inside. The Government Palace, or Palacio de Gobierno, is graced with powerful murals by José Clemente Orozco that explore themes of war and leadership.

Basilica de Zapopan
This Franciscan church is a monumental example of 17th-century colonial Baroque architecture and houses a collection of paintings and sculptures, as well as a permanent exhibit of Huichol, Tepehuan, and Cora art. But the main draw here is the basilica’s Nuestra Señora de Zapopan, a revered, small wooden statue of the Virgin. Every October, more than one million faithful accompany the statue on a five-mile pilgrimage from the Guadalajara Cathedral to the Basilica.

Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento
Considered the greatest work of its kind in Mexico, this neo-Gothic church was constructed from carved stone over a period of 75 years from 1897–1972. The three sections of its façade are decorated with mosaics created in the Vatican, and the church’s German-made bells were designed to play 25 religious and popular tunes and can also be played from a keyboard.

Degollado Theatre
This mid-19th century monument to Guadalajara's vibrant arts scene boasts an impressive façade featuring a frieze of Apollo and his nine muses set above 16 Corinthian columns. Inside, the auditorium is ringed by five floors of lushly decorated box seats and crowned by a Gerardo Suarez mural based on the fourth canto of Dante's “Divine Comedy.” The theater, which is home to the Guadalajara Philharmonic, regularly presents concerts, recitals, and dance performances.

El Parián
El Parián is the premier place in Guadalajara to hear mariachi music. The large square in Tlaquepaque, an artist village just outside of the city, is lined by restaurants and features a gazebo in the center where mariachis play at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon and at 9 p.m. in the evenings. At other times, bands of 10-15 mariachis will play a song for 100 pesos, but there is never a shortage of dancing and singing.

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