Salamanca, Guanajuato: Discover its Rich Culture and History

Salamanca Guanajuato is part of El Bajío, a region of Mexico that was very prosperous in colonial times.

This was thanks to its agriculture, livestock, and robust mining background, which can be seen in some of the old building remains and its religious architecture.

Likewise, it has natural landscapes that can be enjoyed within its geographical limits.

This charming town is known for its business and corporate tourism due to its automotive plants and a refinery, which helped expand and strengthen its economy some time ago, although it also has tourist attractions.

Salamanca Guanajuato history

The land where Salamanca is located was first called “Xidoo” (place of tepetates) by the Otomi people.

In the middle of the 16th century, Spanish settlers established cattle ranches in the area, bringing more immigrants.

As a result, as we know it today, Salamanca Guanajuato was founded in the early 17th century by Viceroy Gaspar Zúñiga y Acevedo and is named after his hometown in Spain.

Over the years, Salamanca, Guanajuato, became one of the most important cities for industry and business in El Bajío, with the arrival of automobile plants, refineries, and factories.

The city played an essential role during the Independence and Revolutionary movements. It was not until 1895 that it was granted city status.

How to get to Salamanca, Guanajuato

Salamanca is located southwest of Guanajuato. It borders the municipalities of Irapuato, Guanajuato City, San Miguel, Santa Cruz de Juventino Rosas and Villagrán, Cortázar, Jaral del Progreso, Valle de Santiago, and Pueblo Nuevo.

If you come from Mexico City, it’s about 290 km and 85 from Querétaro and San Miguel de Allende.

It can be reached by bus or take a flight to Leon and travel 65 kilometers by land.

The best time to visit Salamanca is at the end of May to see the fields covered with nopales (cactus paddles) and the fireflies in the river at the end of July.

Best 7 things to do in Salamanca Guanajuato

1. Visit the Temple and ex-convent of San Agustín

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Impressive San Agustin Temple

One of your first stops here is the iconic temple and former convent of San Agustin, the city’s architectural jewel, which was completed in the late 17th century.

It has a few fantastic attractions, like eleven lovely plated rococo altarpieces, in addition to its ivory-adorned lectern and remarkable organ.

2. Old Parish Church

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The Old Parish

This is one of the oldest churches in Salamanca, completed in 1690.

It has a Churrigueresque style façade and is in front of the Plaza de Los Niños Héroes.

Upon entering, you can see its original stave, which has been maintained despite the passage of time.

3. Father Hidalgo Museum

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Hidalgo Museum

If you happen to like history, a visit to the Hidalgo Museum is a must.

It also has crafts, antiques, and works of art.

In this gallery, where Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla spent one night, you can see intriguing displays devoted to the set of experiences and culture of Salamanca during different periods, particularly during the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero War.

4. Nativitas Parish Church

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More modern than other churches in Salamanca, the Nativitas parish was built in the second half of the 17th century and is located in front of the square of the same name.

5. Salamanca Guanajuato Arts Center


Another place I recommended visiting in Salamanca is the Centro de las Artes.

The city’s most important cultural center offers art exhibitions of different disciplines throughout the year, from popular toys to visual arts.

At the same time, it frequently hosts special events and dance, music, and art presentations.

It is located in the Claustro Mayor of the former Augustinian convent Fray Juan de Sahagún.

You may want to read: 30 Best Mexico City Museums and World-Class Art Galleries

6. Visit the Hacienda Cañada de Ortega

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Beautiful Ex-Hacienda

Visiting Hacienda Cañada de Ortega is probably the most popular attraction in Salamanca, Guanajuato.

This Hacienda has a highly fascinating history, as it has been everything from a space devoted to rigorous exercises and profound retreats to a transitory asylum for troopers during the Revolution.

During your visit, you will want to see the sanctuary of the Señor de Buen Morir and a few other delightful spaces.

Currently, it’s an important tourist location in Salamanca, where you can set up camp, rappelling, zip-lines, climbing, and other outdoor activities.

7. Temple of the Hospital Lord

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The Black Christ

Another of the most famous religious buildings in Salamanca, Guanajuato is the Temple of the Lord of the Hospital, just under one hundred years old.

You can also admire different scenes of the Passion of Christ on its walls. On one side of this construction is the Expiatory Temple, the oldest in the city.

In addition to its imposing architecture, you must see the image of the Black Christ on its altar, which arrived in the city in the 16th century, and the painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Take the Cactus Route in Salamanca Guanajuato

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The “Tractopal”

Another unmissable activity in Salamanca is to follow the “nopal route” in the community of Valtierilla.

The experience begins with tasting different and refreshing sorbets made with nopal cactus.

Then, you will get on the Tractopal, a truck with bales of straw pulled by a tractor that will take you to the tour’s first stop: the Huerta de Nopaleras de Don Andrés.

There you will learn the technique of vermicomposting (a type of compost) and learn about the cultivation of the nopal cactus.

The second stop is at the Valnopal processing plant, where you will be surprised to learn that nopal-based cosmetics can be made. 

The tour also includes a tasting of various products.

This cooperative produces everything from soaps with different herbs to shampoos and moisturizers.

From there, you will go to Pronopval, a processor dedicated to food products, such as sweets, snacks, pickled nopal cactus, and other delicacies.

After finishing the tour, don’t forget to visit the town, where you will find an endless number of products prepared with this delicious ingredient to take home, from bread and tortillas to liquors.

Shopping for handicrafts

Another thing you cannot miss is buying handicrafts.

The municipality has an enormous variety of them, including basketry, silverwork, wood carving, textiles, pottery, cardboard, and palm masks.

Particularly noteworthy is the flaked wax, which can be admired in all its splendor in the Monumental Nativity of Salamanca.

Taste the local food

A must-do in Salamanca is to try its culinary specialties.

In addition to the traditional dishes of the state, you must try the stuffed pencas, enchiladas with pork leg or jerky, tamales, menudo, gorditas de trigo, puff pastries, and homemade ice cream (especially the cactus, pitaya, and prickly pear flavors).

For many, the star preparation of Salamanca is the fiambre, a combination of different types of meat (fried chicken, pork feet, pickles, etc.) and vegetables.

Salamanca Guanajuato Fair

During Holy Week, this is one of the best things to experience in Salamanca.

It features several fun events, such as fairs, exhibitions, charreadas (rodeo), and sports competitions.

There are also pilgrimages and processions during Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Thank you for reading this article. Please contact me directly or share your comments below if you have further questions about Salamanca. Vamonos!

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