A Virtual Trip to Taxco, Mexico
We wish you could all fly down and visit us in beautiful Taxco, Mexico. But since that’d be pretty expensive (and we only have one guestroom), how about a virtual trip? We’ve compiled some of Taxco’s main attractions, city history, and of course photos. So crank your heat up, fix yourself some tequila with lime, and pretend you’re here. Bienvenida!
Where Is Taxco?
Grab your passport and hop a plane to central Mexico. Taxco (“tass-co”) is in a hilly region about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City (2.5 hours by bus). If you keep heading southwest, you’ll hit Acapulco on the coast after about three hours of driving.
The History of Taxco
Taxco’s silver trade thrived during three major periods: the early 1500s, the early 1700s, and the early 1900s. I’ll give you a fast rundown of each one, which will help you understand Taxco today.
From 1440 to the 1520s, the native Aztecs called Taxco “Tlacho,” or ballgame place. Then colonialists arrived. Rodrigo de Castañeda claimed the city for the Spanish (and changed the name). The Spaniards realized Taxco was rich with silver and started exporting it throughout Europe. Taxco became famous for silver. But overeager colonialists used up all the available sources of the metal, and mining slowed down for about 200 years.
Taxco’s silver trade all but halted until 1743. That’s when a French man named Don José de la Borda was horseback riding in Taxco’s hills. As the folklore goes, his horse tripped and unearthed a rock hiding a rich silver vein. Don José got rich off of the silver he discovered, using his wealth to build roads, schools, and a fancy Baroque cathedral that still stands. They say the Templo de Santa Prisca (Santa Prisca Cathedral) sits on the very spot where Don José first found silver.
From the early 1800s to early 1900s, various warriors claimed Taxco, and the city changed hands several times. The silver trade died down until…
American architect William Spratling moved to Taxco in the 1920s. First, he promoted other artists’ silver work, and then he started to design his own. His workshop blossomed into a factory where many Taxco silver artists got their start. His legacy lives on as the Father of Mexican Silver. We sell reproductions of his famous art to this day!
Today: Taxco Silver
Now, Taxco sustains itself on tourism and silver arts. If you visit, you’ll still find the narrow, winding cobblestone streets that have been here for hundreds of years. The city (population: 52,000 or so) is built into the hillside, so walking around can be a workout — but trust me, the views are worth it. You can spot traditional red roofs, Spanish tile homes, and the main plaza, the Zócalo. (Its official name is Plaza Borda.)
Templo de Santa Prisca (Santa Prisca Cathedral)
You can’t miss the cathedral. It’s more nearly 250 years old and is in the center of town. The cathedral and its two bell towers are striking. Inside the pink stone building, you’ll find sculptures, marble and gold altars, and colorful tile. It’s probably the top attraction in Taxco…other than silver jewelry, of course!
Museo de Guillermo Spratling (William Spratling Museum)
See William Spratling’s original silver jewelry designs! You can also look at almost 300 artifacts he collected, from jars to jewelry to a jade-covered skull. The museum is small but gives a great background on the evolution of Mexican silver.
Museo de la Plateria (Silver Museum)
The silver museum gives you an idea of how difficult silver mining was centuries ago, when they lacked the technology we have today. The Museo de la Plateria also explains the jewelry-making process, with some pieces for sale.
Casa Borda (Borda House)
This building is on Taxco’s main square, so it’s easy to find. It sits on a steep drop: One side of Casa Borda has two stories, and the other has five! It’s a cultural center, with language and arts classes as well as paintings and other art.
Cristo Monumental (Christ Monument)
You’ve no doubt seen pictures of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue (Christ with outstretched arms) in Rio de Janeiro. Well, Taxco has its own version! It’s about 9 feet tall and overlooks the city protectively. The Cristo Monumental is on the Cerro del Atachi, which offers amazing views at the price of sore leg muscles (or cab fare).
Due to its colonialist Catholic roots, Taxco is big on Easter, Palm Sunday, and the Holy Week in between. The whole city celebrates every spring, and there are parades through the streets!
Taxco celebrates other holidays as well, which are either fun to come celebrate or good to avoid if you don’t like crowds:
–January 18: Santa Prisca’s Feast Day (Taxco’s patron saint)
–Late May/early June: Jornadas Alarconianas, a cultural festival to celebrate a Taxco playwright
–Late November/early December: The annual silver fair (The Feria de la Plata)
Well, it’s time to say ¡adiós, but we hope you enjoyed your virtual trip to Taxco and got a better feel for the town that is our home — and the home of some incredible sterling silver jewelry.
Check out some Taxco photos from our Pinterest board, and follow us on Pinterest!
Top photo: Justin Swan