The city's silver wealth helped build some of Mexico’s most beautiful churches, temples and convents. The historic center of Zacatecas was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 on the basis of its outstanding cultural properties. What you'll notice from the first is its harmonious design and, on a closer look, the profusion of baroque façades on which you'll find European and indigenous decorative elements side by side. The mining boom turned Zacatecas into one of New Spain’s major cities; it has since been honored with the official title “City of Our Lady of Zacatecas”. Zacatecas’ silver wealth contributed to the building of some of Mexico’s most impressive colonial churches, temples and convents.
Santo Domingo, located next to the Pedro Coronel Museum, dates back to 1746. Its noble baroque exterior is set between twin bell towers capped with stunning blue and white tiles. Nearby you'll find San Agustin, a recently restored church dating back to 1617. Its façade is a masterwork of stone ornamentation. The Cathedral, unrivalled centerpiece of Zacatecas, is one of Mexico’s most inspiring colonial treasures. It was built between 1707 and 1752, with the exception of its massive bell towers (completed in 1785 and 1904 respectively). The building is made of soft pink “cantera” stone, and is one of the world’s finest examples of stone masonry. The Cathedral has three façades, the most stunning being the main façade with its massive tiered columns and ornate carvings. It took nine years to complete and is considered to be the finest example of a style known as “Mexican Baroque.” In contrast, the vast interior is somber and unadorned.
The long rectangular Plaza de Armas (Principal Plaza) is the city’s cosy 18th -century main square, sitting just next to the Cathedral. To the north you'll find the former residence of the state’s governors, a suitably stately neoclassical two-storey building. Occupying the eastern side of the square is the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), originally built as a private residence in 1727. Its white exterior is handsomely trimmed with soft pink stone and ornamental wrought iron balconies. Look out for the vibrant multi-dimensional mural by artist Antonio Pintor Rodriguez depicting the state’s long history. Directly across the street you'll find two buildings: the Emporio Zacatecas (Zacatecas Emporium) and the curiously named Palacio de la Mala Noche (Palace of the Bad Night). You'll know the Palacio, a former 18th-century residence, by its stark white façade and stone-carved balconies and window ledges. Across from the Cathedral you can admire the Mercado Gonzalez Ortega, a former market housed in a graceful building of black iron columns, built in 1889. Today it houses a handful of modern shops and boutiques, including a wine store selling locally-produced brands. Acueducto Del Cubo, a former aqueduct bringing water to the city, was built in the late 18th century; today, its thirty-nine thick, rose-colored arches still grace the city’s southern entrance.
One of the city’s finest 19th-century treasures, the Teatro Calderon (Calderon Theater), is an unmissable, elegant three-storey building. Its exterior is French and typical of the art nouveau style. The interior is a sumptuous combination of hardwoods, bronze statues and thick red carpet.