Three hours by bus from Mexico City in the state of Guerrero is Taxco, a small city built on a hill that is as famous for it’s silver trade as it is for it’s labyrinth of cobble stone streets that wind their way up the hill like the veins of silver that used to run through the surrounding mountains.
Taxco is one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos—a series of towns that offer a “magical” experience due to their richness in culture, natural beauty or historical significance. Arriving in Taxco, you feel as if you have been transported back in time. The streets are crawling with old Volkswagen Beetles, most of them part of a fleet of taxis that are perfectly suited to navigating the steep and narrow streets. With it’s Spanish Colonial architecture, beautiful churches, and stunning views, Taxco is one of the more picturesque towns in Mexico.
But that doesn’t fully explain why I came here. Twenty years ago I came with my mother and my sister over the easter holiday and witnessed one of the most brutal displays of religious penitence I have ever seen. Once again I was in Mexico City just before Holy Week and I knew I had to make the pilgrimage back to Taxco.
The processions last all week but the biggest ones are on Thursday night, Friday afternoon and Friday evening. Saturday is a day of rest and Sunday there is a large mass. Men walk through through the streets with bundles of thorny blackberry cane tied to their shoulders with horse hair rope or carrying large wooden crosses, flagellating themselves with ropes studded with nails every time they come to a stop. The blackberry bundles and the crosses both weigh around a hundred pounds or more. Others carry large wooden statues of Jesus representing their town or village. The women walk stooped over, holding candles and dragging chains.
Aside from the processions, Taxco is known for its silver. Though most of the mines have closed, Taxco is still a hub for silversmithing and there are silver goods everywhere. Although there is a lot of generic jewelry and pitchers and what not there are also a number of worthwhile silversmiths that make really nice jewelry, sculptures, cutlery, etc..
The food in Taxco is excellent. There are some very narrow little markets that offer a great selection of tacos, barbacoa, cheese, and fresh fruits. Taxco is also known for its pozole, a broth based soup with hominy and shredded pork.
I stayed in a wondeful Airbnb hosted by Violante (she has multiple rooms for rent). She owns the former home of William Spratling–a beautiful hacienda located just above the Zócalo, the main square and where the Santa Prisca church is located. William Spratling basically started the whole silversmithing trade in Taxco in the 1930s and has been called the “Father of Mexican Silver”. I highly recommend you stay here as the property is beautiful and Violante is a great resource who can guide you in the right direction for food, silver and sightseeing.
Santa Semana Processions in Taxco
(click on an image to enter the gallery)