We’ve been in Guanajuato, Mexico for a week now and have managed to see a lot of the city on foot. Our overall impression- the city is simply stunning! Guanajuato is a treasure trove of brightly colored facades, ornate churches, and Herculean monuments.
Its heart is nestled in a deep valley and the city, stacked with vibrant colors, rises up the mountains on all sides from the center.
Given its location, Guanajuato is loaded with epic staircases, steep cobbled streets and walkways, and a complex labyrinth of roadway tunnels. An absolutely incredible place to see.
Breathtaking views are everywhere; from the center looking up and around, and from the hilltops to way down below.
Our Airbnb is located higher up on the South side of the city. A nearby steep 362 step staircase gives us access to the centro. While the descent is a bit physically taxing and the ascent even more so, the stunning beauty of the city beckons us to explore.
I’m pretty sure we’ve taken more steps in Guanajuato this week than we have in any other destination we have visited! It definitely feels like we have, anyway.
On our first venture into old town we noticed a huge stone monument way up the hillside. An imposing giant man who looked to be shaking his fist high in the air. A few days later we had a chance to visit the monument to get a closer look.
The Pipila Monument Guanajuato
This is the statue of El Pípila, the nickname for the local hero Juan José de los Reyes Martínez Amaro. The word el pípila is associated with turkey hens. Some say El Pípila was given the nickname because of his unusual gate, he walked a bit like a turkey hen due to a physical deformity. Others say he was given the moniker due to his bad complexion which resembled the speckles on a turkey egg.
El Pípila was miner in Guanajauato hailing from a nearby town, which is now San Miguel de Allende. He worked in the Mellado mine, one of the first mines ever opened in Quanajuato.
Miners were (and still are) very important in Guanajuato. The area in and around the city was one of the largest exporters of silver back in the late 1800's. Silver and many other minerals are still mined there today.
El Pípila is revered because of an act of heroism he performed at the beginning of the War of Independence from the Spanish. The particular uprising had begun in a an nearby town and then came to a head in Guanajauato. The Spanish had barricaded themselves and tons of silver and riches in the local granary, a formidable fortress. The granary was fortified with high stone walls but it had one weakness, its wooden doors.
Pípila, with a large flat stone strapped to his back as a shield, carried tar and a lit torch to burn down the granary doors. It worked! The revolutionaries went on to storm the fortress, killing all of the Spanish soldiers.
Access to One of the Best Views in Guanajauto
Today, the statue of El Pípila stands tall and hulking up high on hill overlooking the center. His arm raised above his head holding a giant stone touch. The views from the platform where the Statue stands offers one of the best views of Guanajuato city.
Around the monument there are little outdoor shops selling souvenirs and snacks and the entrance to the funicular, small cable cars that ferry people up and down the hill to and from the centro. In the entry way to the funicular there is a procession of more higher end shops.
You can access the El Pípila monument a few different ways. One way is via the funicular (the cost for one way is 25 pesos for adults and 11 pesos for children), another is the stairs that are adjacent to funicular.
If you prefer to take the stairs, some people recommend taking the funicular up to the monument and then the stairs back down as the climb is quite steep and there are just over 100 steps.
You can access the monument by car as well, but parking is very limited. It can be nearly impossible to find parking on weekends as this is the busiest time to visit.
We think the Pipila Monument offers the best views in Guanajuato! Have you visited Guanjuato? Where do you think is the best place to view this beautiful city is? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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