San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Attractions in San Luis Potosi, Mexico: What to do and where to go
San Luis Potosi is synonymous with big and beautiful architecture. Many buildings are made of quarry in Baroque style that contrasts with the lordly and elegant neoclassic style prevalent in the city as well as in the local architecture of the houses with their characteristic faades and the large, iron window frames, giving life to the city. The government has instituted maintenance projects to perfectly conserve in a perfect way all the architecture that has made of this city one of the most beautiful places in Mexico.
The city offers a great variety of cultural attractions such as activities in museums, concerts, plays, and arts and cuisine classes in the plaza and its gardens. Crossing the Alameda Park, you can go to any of the four plazas where the main city attractions are located, as well as food stands where you can taste the delicacies of the San Luis Potosi cuisine.
Qualified tour guides will help you discover the history, details and the most fascinating information about the city. You will be able to walk on the streets and the main avenue, finding musical shows while admiring historic monuments such as the neoclassical "La Caja de Agua" (The Box of Water), one of the most representative spots of the city, and "La Casa de Moneda" (Currency Museum), both dating from the 18th century. Close to these monuments is the Spanish Clock with its peculiar machinery; this valuable item was donated by the Spanish community as a symbol of empathy and fraternity towards the San Luis Potosi people. Don't forget to visit the Guadalupe sanctuary, also known as "Basilica Menor de Guadalupe" (Minor Basilica of Guadalupe). This construction site demonstrates the transition between the baroque and the neoclassic styles at the beginning of the 19th century.
Located in front of the Plaza de Armas, this beautiful monument representative of San Luis Potosi blends the baroque and neoclassic styles. The Cathedral dates from the 16th century and it has three naves and an octagonal dome; inside, you can appreciate wonderful stained-glass windows and images of the apostles made of Carrara marble. Each and every detail is worth admiring, as well as the viceregal paintings you will find in here, without forgetting the neoclassic-style altar.
Cerro de San Pedro (San Pedro Hill)
The discovery of a silver-rich field in the Cerro de San Pedro in 1592 brought a wave of Spanish immigration responsible for the foundation of San Luis Potosi as a mining town. You can walk along its ancient streets admiring its constructions, among which a church dedicated to San Pedro stands out; this building is a proud representative of the art of San Luis Potosi. It has a nice dome, unique in this state due to its beauty and fine details. Its facade with three niches was made in a primitive baroque style. You can also visit old mining tunnels. This zone is currently used to practice extreme sports.
Fiesta de Luz Show
During several times of the year, especially on the dates close to holidays, the nights in San Luis Potosi are spruced up with a multicolor lightshow over three of the most beautiful buildings of the city. This spectacular light show not only embellishes the facades of the Cathedral, Templo del Carmen and also the University building located in Plaza Fundadores, but they tell stories about the generous nature found throughout the state and also about the deeply rooted traditions of the San Luis Potosi people. These charming buildings serve as a unique canvas to this magnificent light show that will surprise you and make your vacation in San Luis Potosi simply unforgettable.
In the surrounding areas of San Luis Potosi there are 20 beautiful, historically important haciendas, which are open to the public year round. You can visit many of them on organized tours, and some function as museums, while others operate as inns for weary travelers to rest awhile. The beautiful Hacienda de Gogorron, located in the neighboring municipality of Villa de Reyes, became famous worldwide when it was used as the incredible backdrop to the passionate romance scenes and challenging duels from the film "The Legend of Zorro", starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The majority of these haciendas have luxurious facilities, expansive gardens and unique local flora; they each have their own unique, almost magical atmosphere. Several of them date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, featuring beautiful chapels and elegant buildings, and some still have the factories, where the owners used to produce their wares. The Haciendas that are definitely worth visiting include Jesus Maria, with its religious museum; La Pila, that has a magnificent central house, and Penasco, which is located close to the airport. Other outstanding haciendas of note are La Ventanilla, Calderon, Bledos, Peotillos, Santiago and Corcovada, the latter having handicrafts and delicious local food for sale. You should also visit Pozo del Carmen, one of the largest, most elegant haciendas in the region. Rich in history and stepped in culture, the haciendas of San Luis Potosi are an attraction that you are surely going to love.
Jardin de San Francisco
(San Francisco Square)
Colonial churches and cobblestoned alleys give a quaint personality to San Luis Potosi's historic center, especially to this beautiful park. El Jardin de San Francisco is a manicured esplanade with a big fountain in the middle, which serves as the atrium to the beautiful four hundred-year-old temple of San Francisco (St. Francis).
On one side of this square, you can find Avenida Universidad (University Avenue), which is a charming cobblestone street that starts from one side of this square and becomes one of the main traffic arteries of the city, some blocks ahead. On the other side of this picturesque garden, the romantic alley called Callejon de San Francisco leads pedestrians to Plaza de Aranzazu, another prominent attraction in San Luis Potosi. Around San Francisco, you can spend some time shopping at its little handicrafts stands or having a drink or light meal in any of the cozy, bohemian cafes established there. It is also a great option to enjoy a romantic dinner on a lovely restaurant terrace, admiring the church's ancient architecture.
Laberinto de las Ciencias y las Artes
(Science and Arts Labyrinth Museum)
Children of all ages show enjoyment and surprise when they walk through the halls of this innovative museum in San Luis Potosi, where there is so much to see, touch, experiment and learn. Guided by interactive games, kids have fun while they learn loads about interesting topics such as the universe, outer space, the World Wide Web, dinosaurs, and many other fascinating aspects of nature. This attractive labyrinth is located in the limits of Park Tangamanga I. Don't pass up your chance to visit this fantastic museum with your family!
Manantial de la Media Luna
(Half Moon Spring)
This is the most beautiful freshwater spring in San Luis Potosi, located about an hour and a half from the state capital. It features an undulating bottom and a maximum depth of approximately 120 feet. The visibility is superb, in fact the water is so clear that you can see for almost 100 feet. It's a great place for scuba diving, and especially for training sessions. The water temperature ranges between a very pleasant 80 and 86 F, thus it's also ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The surrounding area spans a total of roughly 5 acres and there is a fantastic site for camping should you want to spend the night.
Additionally, at Half Moon Spring, experienced divers can explore a large cave, which has several openings in its ceiling, allowing the sunlight to partially illuminate its interior walls. During your next vacation to San Luis Potosi, experience a relaxing yet breathtaking adventure with a visit to the warm, crystal-clear waters of Half Moon spring!
Museo de las Tradiciones Potosinas
(Potosinian Folklore and Traditions Museum)
This beautifully renovated mansion, which dates back to 1900, is now the home of this fascinating museum. The main objective of the museum is to discover and promote the cultural traditions of the people from San Luis Potosi. This important gallery is located right in the heart of the city, between the colonial temple of San Agustin and the beautiful Teatro de La Paz.
Museo Federico Silva
(Federico Silva Museum)
This Neoclassic style museum has 2 temporary exhibition rooms and 6 permanent exhibition rooms where the art work of the famous Mexican sculptor, Federico Silva, is displayed. The museum features an important collection of outstanding contemporary sculptures that are well worth viewing, and you'll have the opportunity to participate in a sculpture workshop. The Federico Silva Museum is also an exhibition site where festivals, concerts, painting classes and dance courses take place.
Museo Nacional de la Mascara
(National Museum of Masks)
This museum offers the most characteristic Mexican masks which represent numerous popular traditions as well as historic or symbolic characters that have survived the passing of time. In this museum, the anthropological importance of masks as a universal and cultural element connected to philosophical, religious, and mystic aspects is shown. This collection has approximately 1200 pieces. The structure of the museum is closely related to the cultural and geographic characteristics of the locality where the masks are elaborated; the different masks shown cover different ethnic groups as well as most of the states of the country. It was built towards the end of the 19th century and shows us the splendor of the quarry workers of San Luis Potosi. Its neoclassic architecture and the decoration on its walls, as well as its iron works and monumental stairs, provide us with an idea of the wonderful things of an entire period.
Museo Regional Potosino
(San Luis Potosi Regional Museum)
This beautiful museum has ten large exhibition rooms where ceramic figures, hardware, fossils, minerals, handicrafts, and archeological pieces from the variety of cultures that lived in the oriental zone of San Luis Potosi, are on display. But not only the local arts and culture are shown here: this museum is also the favorite exhibition hall for the extraordinary collections that tour through all the major cities of the country, featuring masterpieces by renowned Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and the contemporary art sculptor Sebastian.
Parks Tangamanga I and Tangamanga II
Both parks are recreational places with wide, green areas, where the people of the city can practice sports and learn about culture, or merely relax. You will find sports facilities such as jogging, bicycle, motocross and skating tracks, as well as soccer and archery fields. Inside Parque Tangamanga I you will find a nursery with a great variety of flora, woods, and grasslands, as well as two beautiful artificial lakes where you can admire a variety of multicolored fishes.
In this beautiful park you will encounter a lot of animals in our ecological reserve, such as: white-tail deer, sheep, squirrels and many other animals. It has a playground for the kids to enjoy, kiosks with grills where you can hold family gatherings, as well as two theatres, a planetarium and the "Museo de Artes Populares" (Popular Arts Museum) where you can learn very interesting things. You can't miss the great water park, "Tangamanga Splash," located inside Tangamanga I park.
Plaza de Aranzazu
Plaza Aranzazu, a place where originally the stables of the San Francisco Convent and a tobacco factory were located, nowadays is an area where diverse cultural activities are held. The plaza is home to the "Museo Regional Potosino", the "Adolescente Huasteco" sculpture and the "Capilla de Aranzazu", a beautiful chapel considered as one of the main landmarks of San Luis Potosi.
Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is the most visited place in the city. Here you can admire the gorgeous Cathedral which dates from 1710, as well as the City Hall built in the 19th century, which used to be an Episcopal residence, and where wonderful stained-glass windows representing the shield of the city and a wide variety of murals with biblical passages are found. You will find the "Casa de la Virreina " (House of the Vicereine) where the only Mexican Vicereine, called Madame Francisca de la Gandara, lived. The "Palacio de Gobierno" (House of Government) is built on pink quarry in a neoclassic style and occupies an important part of the "Plaza de Armas." It features several ballrooms, including one which has been turned into a museum.
Plaza del Carmen
Plaza del Carmen is considered the most beautiful plaza in the city. Here you will observe impressive buildings such as the amazing Iglesia del Carmen, which is the most important work of the viceregal baroque with its churrigureseco blend from the 16th century, in which the beautiful altarpiece, called "La Portada de los Arcangeles," stands out as well as the access faÃ§ade of the Virgen del Carmen alcove, a shell-shaped chapel covered with gold-sheet details. In this plaza you will also find: the "Teatro de la Paz" (Peace Theater), inaugurated in 1894, where you can admire bronze figures and beautiful murals; the "Palacio Federal" that currently functions as the "Museo Nacional de la Mascara"; and the "Casa de Manuel Jose Othon", poet and pride of San Luis Potosi. Some of his personal belongings and manuscripts dated from the 19th century are on display here.
Important symbols of the education, faith, traditions and modernity surround this large esplanade in San Luis Potosi, which is as old as the city itself. It was here where the first inhabitants chose to establish in the late years of the 16th century. On the northern side of Plaza Fundadores, the beautiful facades of the Chapel of Loreto and the State University building overlook the square as silent custodians of its magnificence. On the west side stands the legendary Edificio Ipina, an old office building that proudly shows off its beautiful French-style architecture, very typical in the beginning of the 19th century. Traditional restaurants, casual cafeterias, modern bank offices and shopping spots complete the four flanks of this popular meeting place for the Potosinian population.
Procesion del Silencio
(Procession of Silence)
Its origin dates back to the 16th century. It takes place every year on Good Friday night in Holy Week, at 8:00 p.m. sharp. For a lot of people, this is the most touching procession of the whole country; it is carried out by the different congregations of the region, such as monaguillos, nazarenitos and macarenas, charros and adelitas, all of them using their typical costumes while proudly holding up images of the churches they represent. The procession is always held in absolute silence carrying torches; it starts in the Plaza del Carmen and goes all the way to the Cathedral.
Real de Catorce
It is worth dedicating one whole day to Real de Catorce, a singular and famous ghost town that is located just three hours from San Luis Potosi. Its tranquility and quietness are amazing; its main attraction, however, is the mining complex where big and impressive properties dedicated to the extraction of gold and silver are still standing, despite the passing of time.
The main economic activity here is tourism. From the heights of Real de Catorce you can to admire the most impressive landscapes of the central high plain. You will find different tours, such as the ones to "Los Tajos" or "Las Tuzas," where you will be able to appreciate the gorgeous geography of Real de Catorce. In the lowlands you will find the Wirikuta natural reserve, sacred land of the Wixarrica people, ethnic Huichol indians in charge of collecting and using the hikuri - also known as peyote - for their ceremonies. At dusk, the blue sky is very impressive and the starry nights are incredible.
Santa Maria del Rio
Santa Maria del Rio is located 35 minutes from San Luis Potosi. This typical town is famous because of the shawls that they manufacture here. During your visit, you can see all the manufacturing process and buy one of these beautiful handmade garments as a fantastic souvenir. Santa Maria del Rio still has many beautifully renovated old buildings, such as the town church and the Franciscan convent, which are both definitely worth visiting while you are staying in this picturesque town.
In the proximity of the town of Santa Maria del Rio, the bountiful geology gives visitors the chance of bathing in mineral springs at Lourdes or Ojo Caliente, where water emerges from the soil enriched with healthful elements. This, undoubtedly, is an attraction that spa lovers can't refuse during their stay in San Luis Potosi.
Tourist Trolley Bus
Get to know the interesting history of this colonial city comfortably. Take a ride on this two-story trolley bus that takes off from Plaza Fundadores and goes by the main colonial temples, historic squares and emblematic monuments of San Luis PotosÃ. Listen to all the interesting stories behind those elegant buildings, churches and parks. Take all the pictures you want and choose the sites you might want to visit later. The rich cultural heritage of San Luis Potosi will leave you pleasantly surprised.
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