Written by dlj on 19 Dec, 2006
Paced not too fast or too slow, and appearing comfortably (yet deceptively) small, Taxco is a great place to spend a couple of days. Alternate your time between shopping, and exploring the myriad footpaths and roads, and enjoying some tasty, relaxing meals. Taxco is a…Read More
Paced not too fast or too slow, and appearing comfortably (yet deceptively) small, Taxco is a great place to spend a couple of days. Alternate your time between shopping, and exploring the myriad footpaths and roads, and enjoying some tasty, relaxing meals. Taxco is a bit unlike many of the other colonial highland towns, in that all the buildings are pretty well whitewashed with red clay tile roofs, giving the place a real Mediterranean seaside-town kind of vibe.
The main part of the town is at the middle level twisting across a hillside/valley, and the towns buildings are much like the barnacles found affixed along an ocean's water-level rocks, closely reflecting the crevices and protrusions of the landscape, but also extending both above and below the main part of town's 'sea level' (note that this town is at 6,000' or 1,800m altitude, and nowhere near water). From normal to unbelievably narrow roads extend up or down from the main drag, eventually turning into vehicle-impassable stairways, but sometimes crossing another road higher-up or further down that allows vehicular traffic to startlingly become renewed. This means you can never be 100% certain the footpath you are on is not doubling as a roadway, even if it is only 6 feet wide, and it just took you 30 steps to ascend. It also means that just because a road is 6 feet wide, does not mean you won't find cross-traffic dancing past each other, through the creative use of driveways, doorsteps, brakes and transmission applications. And therefore, as a pedestrian, it should become second nature to keep cognizant of buttresses and telephone poles (or anything bigger than a sub compact car), as a convenient refuge while you make your way past cars squeaking by each other up a 25 degree incline or around a 300 degree corner, much the same way highway drivers keep a mental note of empty gaps around them, as a second-nature escape route in case they're needed. Don't let that frighten you – it's not a required procedure, but will turn you from a frequently setback pedestrian into an seasoned and fluid street navigator.
Fortunately, whether you're the type of person that gets around by remembering visual landmarks, or some mental Cartesian grid, both methods work here, and you'll never find yourself lost for more than a minute at worst. In the hilly sections of other central Mexican highland towns, you may see more than one type of stonework comprising the streets 'asphalt' of sorts. But in Taxco, you'll often see three types of cut stone, employed as visible delineates, but more importantly, as different means of providing grip in the varied climate conditions. Even so, when you've had one of those kinds of sustained slimy downpours, the roads can still be a little slippery. So the most important thing for visitors to Taxco are to wear hiking boots with arch & ankle support, and great grip, because unless you'll be there for over a month, you still won't be navigating the streets as expertly as a local wearing only running shoes, and could easily sprain an ankle or at the very least get mighty fatigued feet. This also means you just plain don't want to drive once here, even though I've actually seen Jaguars and Mercedes thread their way through the hilly sidestreets – I don't think any insurer would approve.
There's lots of youth and vitality to the town, as there are tons of schools around and nearby, and lots of elderly locals. I would imagine that at peak travel times, there's probably a lot of elderly visitors too, sticking to the flattest parts of the main drag. This keeps the menus from becoming stodgy, and the galleries with some fresh notions, and all the towns various support services don't become inflexible. But a lot of learned expertise is also present, making it one of those towns with a nice mix of ages. Tourism-focused stores (not counting the market stalls) tend to fall into three categories: major discount shops that resell everything (and all sell pretty well the same kind of stuff, making it a real commodity war); local assembly artisans, that source things from across Mexico and abroad, and make their own jewelery as creatively as they can from similar sources of raw objects (all remaining surprisingly unique, although still having a vaguely similar feel from shop to shop); and the named artists with galleries in Taxco and abroad, with unusual silver applications, animal, organic or off-geometric patterns as objects of higher-end furniture or dinner sets (often stunningly beautiful and fresh, tempered only by the equally stunning prices). Either way, you can get some great stuff within your spending bracket. Stores and sanctioned markets selling jewelery stamped with the silver content can be trusted – but there are a couple of ad-hoc markets with stamped jewelery that cannot be trusted. And don't be surprised or suspicious if even valid silver isn't stamped with the traditional ".925" (92.5%) - silver here can be as high as 97.5% content (".975"). It should always be stamped with the silver content percentage though – regardless of the amount. And yes, it's OK to haggle, but don't be insulting or unrealistic – if something is beyond your means, be firm and up front – don't make someone struggle trying all sorts of creative solutions when you know you can't afford something or don't really want it at any price. I found the prices for some 'assembled' types of jewelery to be so reasonable, and watched (while perusing the stores) the whole families involved in concentrated efforts, that sometimes I happily paid full price, knowing fully then that these people owned the store and would have a little extra profit that day, and yet I still got some great deals.
Around the Santa Prisca church and plaza, you will see a few beggars or their proxy children. They're not as evident elsewhere. But you'll find everyone else so friendly and helpful that you never need to worry about finding something or getting lost. As always, showing a modicum of respect by making an attempt to ask in Spanish, and not interrupting someone obviously quite engaged, goes a long way: just don't be a boor and you won't have a concern in the world. Explore the side roads and alleyways, the steep steps and gardens, wavy walls, stone and ironwork. The harsh, contrasty and rapidly changing lighting and scenes will prove a challenge for conventionally processed films unless you really control what you're capturing: the wider dynamic range and metering methods of a digital camera will go a lot further here for most amateur photographers. Even with an automatic digital camera though, you will still want to manually over-ride (+/-) the automatic exposure to really bring out the glossy reflections or creviced foliage to its full splendour (reread your manual on how to use this).
At sunrise, you might see the hills disappearing softly below in haze or mists, and at sunset, you get the consistent scene colouring coupled with stark shadows and irregular rooftops. Check out the restaurants to see where a few people are working, and hopefully with some customers, and that have an interesting menu. There are some very good meals to be enjoyed in Taxco, and the only way to discover them is to explore on foot. Most meals were quite reasonably priced too, so enjoy!
Written by perrytoo on 06 Apr, 2004
Considering the importance of Taxco in the history of Mexico’s silver industry, there is very little about silver in the town’s museums.The museum of silver itself was closed for renovation when I visited, which was disappointing, although the Tourist Bureau were dismissive, describing it as…Read More
Considering the importance of Taxco in the history of Mexico’s silver industry, there is very little about silver in the town’s museums.
The museum of silver itself was closed for renovation when I visited, which was disappointing, although the Tourist Bureau were dismissive, describing it as a private museum, showing nothing more than was available in any of the shops. They recommended the Museo de Arte Virreinal, in Casa Humboldt, which is a real museum. It is located in a fine 18th-century building (which housed Alexander von Humboldt for one day, while he was surveying Mexico) spread over several stories, and showing mainly religious art. They don’t get many visitors, so you will have the personal attention of a charming elderly lady, who carefully locked and unlocked doors, switched lights on and off, and climbed nimbly up and down stairs, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. There is an interesting exhibit of the seed mosaics traditionally created and laid down before the main altar in churches during Holy Week.
There is also little in Taxco to remember William Spratling, who was personally responsible for creating the modern silver industry in the 1930s. I had hoped to locate the sites of his various workshops and studios, but they are not marked, and there is no museum which features his work. But the William Spratling museum is still interesting to visit, although it only contains his collection of pre-Hispanic items, simply because it is an artist’s collection. Every single piece was chosen for its artistic, rather than archaeological, value, and it is a lively and inspiring place.
Written by kozuh on 02 Dec, 2003
Taxco is a town of 140,000 (name means "ballgame"), which is 1754 meters above sea level, located 4 hours from Acapulco, northeast. Mexico City is approximately 2 hours from Taxco.Taxco was conquered in 1552 by the Spaniards who uncovered its mineral wealth. Much of its…Read More
Taxco is a town of 140,000 (name means "ballgame"), which is 1754 meters above sea level, located 4 hours from Acapulco, northeast. Mexico City is approximately 2 hours from Taxco.
Taxco was conquered in 1552 by the Spaniards who uncovered its mineral wealth. Much of its development occurred in the 19th century as a result of a Frenchman by the name of Jose de la Borda, who became a rich man after he discovered a silver mine. There are still approximately 14 to 16 working silver mines. Taxco is filled with numerous silver shops and the silver produced is 925 pure.
There are numerous churches in Taxco; however, the most spectacular is the Parish of Santa Prisca, which was built by Jose de la Borda who believed that what God gave to you, you should give to God. Building of the church commenced in 1751 and took 10 years to complete. The cost depleted all of Mr. Borda's riches (for a period of time). It is absolutely breathtaking and holds countless sculptures and original paintings. No flash cameras are allowed inside. Be sure to purchase the booklet on the church as it is very informative and is written in Spanish and English.
The streets are cobblestone and, because of their steepness, are an excellent workout. Building facades are white and roofs are red tile, very similar to what you would see in Spain or Portugal. The narrow streets are perfect for the ever-popular Volkswagen Beetle taxis, which are abundant. Other churches include the Paris of San Miguel (18th century) and the Parish of Santa Maria de Guadelupe (2nd half of 16th century. Temples include Santa Veracruz, the Santisima Trinidad, San Nicolas Tolentino and Cjeda (16th century and beginning of 17th).
We visited Taxco through a tour out of the Mayan Palace. We took two vans, which did not have headrests and did not allow for everyone to sit with their partner. I would suggest that you try to take a Tour with a large tour bus. You travel through the Sierra Madres to get there and the views are absolutely breathtaking. Our tour did not allow you to maneuver the town on your own, which we would have preferred.
Roberto, our taxi driver from outside the Mayan Palace (yellow and white cabs), said that cabs will take you there, as well. If you ended up with a knowledgeable driver, that might be the ticket.
Written by skeptic on 23 Dec, 2008
The name comes from the Aztec "Tlacho," meaning "the place of the ball game." The game involved two teams, each trying to get a ball through a hole. The game often took the good part of a day, and the first team to…Read More
The name comes from the Aztec "Tlacho," meaning "the place of the ball game." The game involved two teams, each trying to get a ball through a hole. The game often took the good part of a day, and the first team to score was the winner. The winning team captain was sacrificed by having his heart cut out with a jade knife. For some reason the game never caught on, but the Spaniards incorporated the city of Taxco in 1532. It is preserved today as a historic colonial city.In later years director John Huston took his crew there to film scenes from the 1948 classic "Treasure of the Sierra Madre." It is here Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston (father of John), and Tim Holt outfit themselves for gold prospecting in the nearby mountains, and it is here the three bandits are executed by federal police after they try to sell the mules they have taken from Bogart after killing him on the trail. Sometimes modern times are no less grim than ancient ones.When you say Taxco (closest pronunciation: tasko), you should think silver. There are seven silver mines in and near the city, and Taxco has over 2000 shops retailing silver products. Take the roofs off, and this place would glitter in the sunlight.Taxco is not close to anywhere. It’s several hours from Mexico City or from Acapulco. In this case, getting there is part of the fun. Taxco is about 5900 feet up in the Sierra Madre del Sur (approximately "mother mountain of the south in my Spanish). I have taken the tour previously from Mexico City, and my foremost memory is a lurching bus ride over switch-back mountain roads. Coming up by passenger van from Acapulco was much more enjoyable, and the scenery was memorable.Visitors are treated to the spectacle of a city of 75,000 clinging to the mountain slopes on all sides. Historic preservation requires the traditional clay tile roofs and absolutely no sidewalks. The center historical attraction is the Baroque style Santa Prisca Church. The church was constructed in the 1700s, funded entirely by Jose de la Borda, a Frenchman who made a fortune mining silver. The design and execution of the construction of the church attest to the lavish wealth expended by its grateful benefactor.We booked our tour before leaving home in Texas—about $100 per person. Lunch was included. Our actual experience attests to some financial realities of 2008. We later learned what we already suspected: tourism was way down, and tours were not even close to filling up. The tour driver showed up on time Monday morning, noting his other passengers had canceled out. I suspect the reality was they had not been able to book a full van, but in the event, the driver was fully prepared to take the two of us for the tour. Instead, we elected to put off the tour until Wednesday so they could make up a full van.On Wednesday four American tourists set out for Taxco in an assembly that made more economic sense.Another aspect of economics became apparent in Taxco. There is little doubt these tours are subsidized by the silver industry. Our first stop in Taxco was a silver shop where we were given instruction in the history and the mechanics of silver production. We were also given ample opportunity to make purchases. Besides the historic and scenic attractions we got to see in Taxco, we were treated to two additional silver retail facilities.So, it turns out that a trip to Taxco is really about silver. I will give you the benefit of my experience and wisdom:Silver in Taxco is high quality. Taxco’s reputation is based on the industry, and there is a strong interest in maintaining public confidence. Supposedly all articles are hand crafted, which can mean the process does not involve automatic machinery. The standard of quality in Taxco is 92.5% silver, alloyed with zinc (no longer copper). It is said not to tarnish.Do not buy on a tour. Are you going to spend 15 minutes in a shop and purchase a full silver set? Not a good idea. Purchase a silver bracelet or necklace or some ear fobs, but if it’s a serious purchase you plan, then prepare in advance. Know what you want, know the equivalent value, and be prepared to comparison shop. And to bargain. When you find what you want, pay cash or use your credit card. The shops will ship back to the U.S., but you will have to deal with customs.All that aside, touring some of the major shops is a thrill to take home. While many of the craftsmen are home grown, others come to Taxco to study and to work. Many exquisite works in precious metal are on display to admire and to purchase. Linda de Taxco is proud to display a magnificent collection of award winning pieces, and they allowed me to photograph them. See the photos. If you can’t make it to Taxco, Linda de Taxco has outlets in Acapulco, Mexico City and San Antonio, Texas. Close
Written by harlgr8dane on 22 Feb, 2004
If visiting a charming authentic Mexican city that can double as shopping trip is on your agenda, then a trip to Taxco is for you! This city is about 250km from Acapulco on a long, windy, and sometimes frightening road! It will take over 3…Read More
If visiting a charming authentic Mexican city that can double as shopping trip is on your agenda, then a trip to Taxco is for you! This city is about 250km from Acapulco on a long, windy, and sometimes frightening road! It will take over 3 hours by car, but this trip is well worth it! The drive is scenic – we saw people riding donkeys, farmers herding cattle right on the road, wild pigs, cactus growing on the hillsides, and small villages. On the drive, you will pass the capital of the state of Guerrero, Chilpancingo, and also Iguala, a town where there is both silver and gold mining.
Taxco is about 1700m above sea level and after rich mineral deposits were discovered in the area it became a mining town. There are still working silver mines in the area. The streets are cobblestone and are extremely steep. Be sure to wear proper and comfortable walking shoes for this trip!
On our tour, we were shown how minerals appear in the stones as they are removed from the earth. The stones are crushed and processed. The silver is bound to an alloy and is then sold to the banks. 0.925 silver means that one kilogram contains 925gm of silver.
We were able to visit a silversmith and observe him while he worked on making the small clasps that hold gemstones in the necklaces he was making.
There are so many silver shops here along the streets of this city that it is impossible to imagine someone leaving without a little something! The deals are phenomenal. You will find jewelry of all types, picture frames, vases, napkin rings, fabulous art, and much, much more. Be wary of some places that may sell silver plated imitations to you unknowingly.
We visited La Posada de la Mision, which is a charming colonial style hotel that is a renovated monastery. Apparently, John F. Kennedy and Jackie Onassis stayed here on their honeymoon as they traveled from Mexico City to Acapulco. The monastery was built in the 1500s, but in the 1960s, it was converted into a hotel.
At the center of town, you will find the beautiful Santa Prisca Church, which was built in the 1750’s. Here you will see a church with 12 altars, and many unique portraits and sculptures.
We ate at a quaint restaurant called Del Angel Inn. We sat on the rooftop patio that allowed us to enjoy the meal while taking in the picturesque hills of the city.
This day trip was sold at local travel agencies for between US$80-110 per person, including lunch. However, we received it as a gift for previewing a timeshare presentation.
Written by Cyberkitty on 08 Jan, 2003
We went to Taxco the silver town ourselves, rather than the arranged tours ($24.00 per person round trip 1st class bus instead of $80.00). We felt we had more time and saw more of the town. There are at least four churches to check out.…Read More
We went to Taxco the silver town ourselves, rather than the arranged tours ($24.00 per person round trip 1st class bus instead of $80.00).
We felt we had more time and saw more of the town. There are at least four churches to check out. You can get the bus tickets at the travel agent down the street from the zocolo in Accapulco (walk towards the Forte de San Diego). It's on the land side of the main road. She will only book you on the going trip. When you get at Taxco immediately check the return times for the buses, but don't buy tickets until you are ready to leave. If you are bored you can return earlier if necessary.
The shared taxies in Taxco are VW minivans.
Written by samer_k on 04 Apr, 2005
This was a town famous for its silver when the Spanish used to mine silver from here. There are no resorts here! But it's an authentic town that truly reminds you of the old classic Mexican town from the movies. Yes, you can…Read More
This was a town famous for its silver when the Spanish used to mine silver from here. There are no resorts here! But it's an authentic town that truly reminds you of the old classic Mexican town from the movies. Yes, you can buy silver, from a cheap $20 necklace to some thousands and thousands, you will have plenty of opportunites to buy!
We also took a walking tour of the town and saw the city square, as well as the old church; it was definitely going back in time, it seemed. We had a lunch on a rooftop and continued to another part of our tour. We had a private car take us instead of a coach tour.
Written by mbville on 15 Oct, 2003
The highlight of our trip, and only because I have to pick one, would be the trip to Taxco. This is where silver is mined and craftsmen create stunning jewelry. The trip started at 6am and we were picked up in the lobby…Read More
The highlight of our trip, and only because I have to pick one, would be the trip to Taxco. This is where silver is mined and craftsmen create stunning jewelry. The trip started at 6am and we were picked up in the lobby by Victor, our tour guide. We were the only ones from the hotel so we had very personalized service. The drive in the air-conditioned Intrepid was 3 hours through the countryside. We saw buses lined up in the "suburb" just outside Acapulco for people who work in the hotels to get to work. The countryside was beautiful. We saw little villages, men on donkeys wearing sombreros, and even cactus. Victor told us about the cities, the leaders, the history . . . awesome.
Taxco was beautiful!!! Looked like Spain. Cobblestone streets, old churches, dozens of long stem roses for sale in the street and THE BEST silver I have ever seen. The monastery renovated into a hotel was awesome with the candles in the restaurant dripping wax onto the floor for years. Culture...pure Mexico. Taxco was chilly in the mountains in June/July. We went in shorts, tank tops and sandals. But you should wear sleeves and good walking shoes. Out tour included lunch at a fabulous restaurant on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful city. Silver prices were down to earth . . . I bought so much as Christmas gifts.