Walking around a Magic Town – silver capital of the world Taxco
Our guide explained us a bit of history from the place. A designer once came to Taxco, originally called Tlachko. Precious stones of different colours were discovered in the area and they started extracting them from a mine to use for houses, gardens etc. Particularly, a reddish stone stands out and also la galena which is a set of around 7 minerals together. Taxco quickly became the silver capital of the world. Also Guanajuato and Hidalgo are other towns in Mexico where they extract silver not have never been so rich like Taxco.
First, we visited a silver mine replica with silver jewelry sold. My friends were welcomed there with la Bertha – a traditional cocktail of lemon, water and 7 drops of Tequila but as I quit alcohol back in 2009, I just sat down and waited for interesting information about Taxco.
One of the shop vendors started giving us some explanations when I learned that the mine is 800 m deep. You have to extract 2 or 3 tons of stone to get 1 kg of real silver!
Silver is very fragile so copper is added to it but it leaves colorful spots on the clothes and skin so some nickel or zinc are added instead. When zinc is used, the silver does not leave blackish colour. When it comes to nickel adding, many people are allergic to it (including me).
925 silver sign means that it is made of 925 grams of silver plus 75 grams of zinc.
Our guide also explained us how to test if it is a real silver or an imitation.
He showed us 3 glasses of a similar colour:
1) alpaca sold at the market and the beach and made of copper, nickel and zinc;
2) called laton in Spanish and brass in English – made of copper and zinc;
3) silver with a 925 sign on it. Everything made here in Taxco has to have a silversmith personal initials and the certification and the registration of the shop with the guarantee.
After the main info about silver, we had some time to stroll around the shop and get jewelry at affordable prices. I finally bought a pair of earrings I wanted to buy already 2 years ago when I was in Mexico City.
Once we did some shopping, the van took us to the centre of Taxco where we hopped on a local bus to get us closer to the main square where the van could not enter. The white little Beettle taxi cars characteristic for Taxco were all around the town.
Nowadays the centre of Taxco is flat but the rest is built up on the surrounding mountains. The town with around 100,000 inhabitants now belongs to the so called Pueblos Magicos – Magic Towns in Mexico where the architecture rules are somehow limited to keep the unique magical feeling. All the houses in Taxco are white with mostly red terracota roofs. Just the shopping mall is looking differently.
Once we walked a little bit, we got to the restaurant Del Angel Inn for lunch. I was contemplating about how happy I always am in Mexico and looking at the beautiful Taxco architecture from the restaurant It was time for the chicken soup, fish and veggies, and a fruit cocktail followed with live music. Such a nice relaxing time out there!
After lunch and breath-taking views of Taxco, we continued to D’Argenta – another silver shop where I saw a silver jaguar worth of $20,000! It was freaking awesome! The shop also holds a very pretty cross with a silver Jesus – the replica of what won the Feria de la Plata in Taxco (Silver Festival) and was then given to the Pope Jean Paul II as a present. Its replica is now in the shop displayed for sale.
Then, we walked into the Santa Prisca Cathedral of Taxco which is indeed beautiful. Situated right at the main square we could visit it for a short time as afterwards there was a funeral going on. Built in Barroque Churrigueresque style and decorated with golden, pink and white colours, all 100% hand-made makes Santa Prisca a unique piece of art.
Constructed between 1748 and 1758 it’s said to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico. The cathedral was paid solely by Jose de Borda, a Catalan miner who in 1714 came to Mexico looking for his brother and finally finding him in Taxco. Jose’s daughter became a nun and his son a fray so after a few years in the area Jose built the cathedral dedicated to his son.
Until 1806 the twin towers of the Cathedral made it the tallest building in Mexico.
There’s 518 angels found around the cathedral, 9 altars covered with gold leaf, pregnant virgins and 2 altars made of 24 carat gold. The cathedral holds a unique collection of 54 paintings by Miguel Cabrera from Oaxaca who was only 17-year-old when he started painting and became famous. The paintings cannot be touched so the original colours coming from flowers and roots remain for years on.
The Cathedral is also the place of the unique painting in the world – the circumcision of Christ which is described now as painted in a wrong way. There’s no women presented in the picture while at the circumcision there usually should be some; the main religious man doing it has no hat on the picture but he should etc.
Another interesting thing about the Santa Prisca Cathedral is its original wooden floor which gives us an optical illusion looking like sea waves. It’s not very common to see original floor like this one in other churches around the world any more.
We finished our visit to the Cathedral by looking at the seal from the 3rd December 1758 written in antiguo castellano language and then walked out to the main square where we had some free time for shopping and just wandering around.
I also visited Plateria La Azteca where they hold the original silver necklace famous Frida Kahlo wore – worth $40,000 now! Then I walked around Jose de la Borda’s statue, and sat in the park hiding from the strong sun when the people for the funeral started gathering themselves in front of the Cathedral. Afterwards, I fell asleep in the van on the way back to Mexico City.
Here are some of my photos from Taxco:
***It took me 4 hours to write this post.