One of the oldest universities in Latin America, the Universidad de Guanajuato (University of Guanajuato) first opened in the 18th century as a Jesuit school for children. It was the first educational building to open its doors in Guanajuato, and was originally founded as the Hospice of Holy Trinity. It changed names several times before becoming property of Guanajuato state in 1828.
Shortly after becoming property of the state, the university was renamed the Colegio Nacional de Guanajuato (National College of Guanajuato). In 1945, the National College of Guanajuato gained university status and was renamed the University of Guanajuato. Today, the University of Guanajuato has schools located throughout Guanajuato state and offers numerous academic programs including undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees. It was granted autonomous status in 1994.
The University of Guanajuato has buildings located all over the city. The university’s main building is located on Lascurain de Retana one block uphill from the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (Church of Our Lady of Guanajuato) and next door to a former mansion that houses Guanajuato’s art museum. The university’s main building houses the dean’s office, administrative offices and several departments, as well as a church and natural history museum.
The main building at the University of Guanajuato can be recognized by its famous stairway with 113 stone steps. The building was built using green cantera stone and its neoclassical architectural style dates to the mid-1900s. The design of the main building has been called controversial because it impedes the characteristic cityscape of Guanajuato.
The University of Guanajuato is credited with the founding of the Cervantino Festival, a festival of performing arts that has grown into one of the most important international festivals of arts and culture in Latin America. Each year, a number of festival performances and cultural events are held at the university campus.