The history of Viceregal Guanajuato starts in the second half of the sixteenth century with the discovery of rich deposits of precious ore.
The silver from the mines of Guanajuato, filled the Spanish coffers and enabled them to expand their domains, but it also brought an unheralded vitality to the region, since in order for the royal mines and surrounding colonies to prosper, it was necessary to bring in food, cattle, domestic goods, tools and provisions of all kinds, but most of all workers. By the start of the eighteenth century, with the wealth now pouring in, the spirits of these men and their families were also demanding joy and hope and the rituals necessary to bolster their faith in worldly institutions as much as their faith in heaven.
It was then that the bonanza carved from the rocks found its echo in the dreams and the and the buildings of Guanajuato. The whole city became a construction site: between the irregularly laid out haciendas sprang dozens of churches, competing to outdo each other in majesty; humble monasteries for educating Guanajuato’s youth; ostentatious mansions to house new noble families and public services for those whose only wish was to survive. In less than a century, the city had blossomed to the point that it was now without doubt the jewel in the Spanish crown, both metaphorically and literally. The Guanajuato’s architectural and cultural legacy would be so great that, in 1988, the whole city was delcared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.