Guanajuato is a city that’s best explored on foot and the layout of the city’s historic downtown is ideal for walking. European-style plazas are linked to one another via cobblestone streets and callejones (alleyways) that wind up and down the hillside, many of which are pedestrian-only and too narrow for cars. Navigating the streets of Guanajuato City presents a unique challenge for motorists.
The Rio Guanajuato (Guanajuato River) used to flow beneath the city of Guanajuato and frequently caused the city streets to flood, especially during the rainy season. In the mid-20th century, engineers constructed a dam to redirect the river into underground caverns and alleviate the flooding.The redirection of the river left behind a network of underground tunnels, which were later converted into roadways to help accommodate the city’s traffic.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive in Guanajuato, is that the majority of the city’s motorists use this network of underground tunnels to get around the city. As a result, traffic is light throughout many of the streets and alleyways of the historic center.
Guanajuato’s complex underground network of roadways is paved in cobblestones and well-lit with junctions, cross roads and even pedestrian footpaths. The organization of the tunnels is similar to that of a city subway system and several local public bus routes run underground.
Stone staircases lead down from street level into the underground tunnels offering pedestrians an alternative to the labyrinth of alleyways that snake through the historic center of Guanajuato. Even if you’re not planning to drive while visiting the city, it’s worth heading underground to explore this expansive network of tunnels and roadways.
Guanajuato is a city steeped in legend, and its famous tunnels are no exception. According to local legend, La Llorona (the weeping woman) is said to wander the tunnels of Guanajuato.