Colonial or cosmopolitan? Delightfully bohemian with a distinctly European cafe culture, Saltillo manages to combine both in its touristic appeal. Lying wholly within the North East portion of Mexico, in the East of Coahuila State, Saltillo can sometimes be overlooked in favor of Americanized Monterrey (Nuevo Leon.) Those whom care to swap convenience for character, will find an enchanting buzz about Saltillo that once sampled, is almost impossible to resist. It seems visitors aren't the only ones to be wooed by its charm. In 2006, Inversionista Magazine conducted a lifestyle poll, based upon 53 cities throughout modern Mexico. The results were clear and conclusive; Saltillo was voted the best city for quality of life, over and above Monterrey, Veracruz or Jalisco!
Derived from the Toltec “Saltilla”, the archaic city is upheld to have been built upon the site of an ancient waterfall. Bursting forth at the point on which the Catedral de Saltilla now stands, the spring brought enhanced health and virility to all those whom drank from its source. Designed by the celebrated artist Jose de Alcibar, the Fountain of La Virgen de Guadalupe now stands where the spring is alleged to have spurted, showering the breathtaking marble statue with prisms of glistening light. Catedral de Satilla provides a magnificent backdrop to the fountain, featuring Salomnic columns and huge arched porticoes flanking either side of the central nave entrance. Built from local grey quarry and pink limestone, the cathedral strikes a majestic presence at the North of the main plaza, however it is the artisanal gems to be found within that have influenced its popularity. The Belgian sculpted “Stations of the Cross” hangs above the main altar, with the Conch of the Apostle Santiago to its right and stunning oil paintings, alleged to have been composed by members of the Vice-Royalty during the 18th Century. Nearby San Juan Nepomuceno Temple preserves an equal array of enchanting historic artifacts, with Tlaxcaltecan frescoes adorning its interior walls and a number of prolific Jesuit paintings by its founding father Gonzalo Carrasco.
Littered with cultural museums and historical relics, its easy to get lost amid the strong colonial essence still impressed by Saltilla. With its pseudo Tudor beamed exterior and carved wooden porch, Casa Purcell stands out like a sore thumb amid the neo-Classical mansion facades of Plaza de Armas. Once the home of Irish merchant William Purcell, Casa Purcell has since been transformed into a monument and cultural center, dedicated to the man whom altered the course of agricultural economy and built the first international trading routes for the city. Across the Plaza de Armas sits Vito Alessio Robles Cultural Center, a fascinating library museum containing the multimedia collections of historian Alessio Robles. Travel back in time at the Ruben Herrera Museum, within which you'll be transported to an era of 17th Century beauty and artworks considered the best examples of Zacatecan style in Saltillo.
Saltillo has often been referred to as the “Athens of Mexico”, such is its proliferation of historic attractions. While this is in no doubt true, the modern beauty of Saltilla's culture continues to shine, through the lively markets and nightlife of the city. Self contained gardens within a boundary of 200 year old pines, Acuña Plaza is almost always showcasing the musical brilliance of local bands upon its gazebo stage. Juarez Market, to the rear of the 19th Century Government Palace draws the curious with a bustling, vibrant atmosphere; exotic, wafting aromas and flashes of color amid the many wooden sculptures and musical instruments for sale. As the sun sets across the cityscape, its party-loving social elite head to Padre Flores, where the entire street has been transformed into one huge outdoor mariachi concert. If any city of Mexico can truly be dubbed a beautiful metropolis, Saltilla is probably the measure by which such comparisons are made.
Attractions & Things To Do in Saltillo
El Museo de Les Aves – the only museum in Mexico wholly dedicated to the study and exhibition of its bird species. Step into a world of taxidermy, photographs and archaeological finds which time-line the evolution of Mexico's diverse bird populations. Several exhibitions include the fossilized remains of maniraptoran and pterosaur examples. Open: Monday – Saturday, 9: 30 am – 5: 30 pm.
Ateneo Fuente – built in 1867, the prestigious university of Saltillo has witnessed the graduation of numerous entities who went on to become prolific politicians, scientists and artists. Founded by Mexico's “father of education” Juan Antonio de la Fuente, the university is considered the most important educational institution within the North of Mexico. The adjacent gallery exhibits the precious works of Fuente and literary greats, alongside a fascinating narrated walk-through of the university's history. Open: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 4: 30 pm.