High up in the desert mountains, a couple of hundred kilometres northwest of Mexico City, is Guanajuato. Visitors will discover a romantic and colourful city, its chaotic collection of brightly painted buildings lining the narrow lanes and hugging the hillsides above a deep valley.
There are several reasons to visit Guanajuato. Not only was it, along with San Miguel de Allende, a "silver city" colonised by the Spanish in the 1500s and mined for its silver deposits, it is famed by Mexicans for the role it played in the country's fight for independence from Spain. It is also the birthplace of Diego Rivera, the artist.
Guanajuato today retains much of the colonial era. The city's buildings appear at times more European than Mexican, the plazas suitably elegant and the churches ornate and awe-inspiring. One of the most noticeable features of Guanajuato is its lack of streets. For these, look underground. The river, which ran underneath the city, use to flood the downtown area until a dam was built in the 1960s. The Underground Street (Calle Miguel Hidalgo) follows the river's original course.