Taxco, Guererro

Population: 51,000

Time Zone: Central Standard

Airport: Benito Juarez in Mexico City (MEX), 110 miles

Elevation: 5,900 feet

Vibrant colors, Old World style, ornate architecture, cobblestone streets and distinctly locked in time… this is the mystique of Taxco. An hour from Cuernavaca, this is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque towns in all of Mexico. In the early 1500’s, Jose de la Borda (a Frenchman living in Spain) heard of rich mineral deposits in the New World and rushed to Mexico to try his luck. He struck it rich in Taxco. Since then the city has been deemed the “Silver City” and is known worldwide for its pure silver jewelry and handicrafts.

Borda developed the city and is credited for the construction of the city masterpiece – the Santa Prisca church. He imported artisans from France and Spain who created the most powerful and elaborate examples of 18th century of baroque architecture. The interior is astounding with twelve intricately carved and gilded altars arranged according to size and religious content. It will rival most any cathedral in the world. There are plenty of cozy eateries surrounding the town the square for a relaxing lunch. Not only will it be the best shopping day of your life (over 150 silver shops), but it will also leave you with a lasting sense of Mexican history and charm.

Taxco was declared a national monument by the Mexican government in 1928, preserving the signature white-stucco buildings and red-tile roofs typify colonial Mexico.

The silver mines that made Taxco wealthy town centuries ago have been long mined-out, but thanks to expat William Spratling, a writer and architect who arrived in the 1930’s, it is where most of Mexico’s silver artisans work and live. Many of today’s silversmiths are descendents of the artists that first trained under Spratling, producing intricate, fine silver pieces that are exported and sold throughout Mexico.

Located on the old highway that connects Mexico City to Acapulco, the town has managed to remain fairly unchanged for decades, offering good, if not extravagant accommodations, with terrific views everywhere. The entire town is best seen on foot, which requires some healthy lungs and good walking shoes to navigate the steep, narrow streets.