Spread the LOVE. . .

Spread the LOVE. . .
with gifts from the artisan's soul

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Greetings from Guadalajara - No.2

Our itinerary for today was to see the Guadalajara Centro Historical District which is located in downtown Guadalajara, about 20 minutes from Tlaquepaque. Our wonderful driver and tour guide 'Don Abel' takes such great care of us and makes sure we see everything and explains their significance while simultaneously making sure it is safe for us to cross the street and then rounds us all up before heading to the next stop.

Our first stop today was to the Cathedral which as you drive into the Centro you are greeted by its' amazing limestone structure, gorgeous dome, and spindles. Don Abel showed us the gorgeous Cathedral and was able to get us access to the sacristy where groups are usually not allowed, this room is where the clergy changes and so does the Pope when he visits. The most amazing part of this room is the gorgeous art from the 1600's done by some of the most famous painters from Spain including Murillo. The room is also filled with gorgeous hand-carved dressers that surround the room, it is like a small museum, filled with the incredible paintings and other stunning pieces of porcelain pottery and woodwork.

Our second stop was to the 'Palacio Gobierno' to view the famous Orozco mural of the famous priest, Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independance. He holds a torch light in his fist. After so many years, it continues to be a beckon or warning. The magnitude of this mural is amazing, it is on the ceiling of a section of the building where you walk upstairs a limestone staircase. The murals are dark but somehow simultaneously moving once you learn what he trying to depict.

Our next stop was to Teatro Degollado, the Opera House, which as you approach is a stunning building of grandeur made of limestone whose pillars greet you as you approach, when you enter there is a lovely foyer of marble floors, and beautiful crystal chandeliers. We unfortunately could not go inside as they were practicing but we were able to hear the orcheastra practicing, quite a treat. We walked behind the Opera House where a modern bronze frieze 'Frisa de Los Fundadores, decorates the back side. This 68 ft. sculpture depicts Guadalajara's co-founders facing each other on opposite sides of a big tree.

Our next stop which by far I think was one of the most memorable was to the Hospicios Cabanas, this domed neoclassic colonial building was designed and financed by Bishop Juan Ruiz de Cabanas, the purpose of the 'Guadalajara House of Charity and Mercy' was to be a home for a sick, helpless, and homeless. It served as an orphanage during the 70's but the building needed to be restored so they moved the orphanage into the suburbs, restored the building and changed its purpose. It now houses the 'Institudo Cultural Cabanas' a center for the arts. The inside houses one of Jose Clemente Orozco's famous murals- his work could be described as dark, fiery, apocalyptic. Orozco painted the famous mural in the chapel from 1938-1939 where the central dome his 'Man of Fire is wreathed in flame, and appears to soar into a hellishly red-hot sky. His murals depict his concept of Evolution and Revolution and contain many optical illusions. Our guide, Ernesto, explained every panel in great detail and made sure we saw all of the optical illusions, which were not discovered until the 60's. Although very dark the murals are captivating, especially once you understand his thought process.

We strolled through the Plaza Tapatia and then headed to the Mercado Libertad which was built in 1958 and is the largest market in Mexico. After finding some great buys in the mercado we headed out to the Vallarta area to have a comida at one of the favorite restaurants in Guadalajra, 'El Sacromonte' where the charming spanish building greets you and the festive decor and piano music invite you to enjoy a long lunch - which we did. Everyone enjoyed the unique strawberry quesadillas and sangrita.

After a long day of touring everyone was ready for a siesta and then we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Quinta Don Jose's Mexican & Italian restaurant 'TlaquePasta'.