Walk This Way: Old Town, Mazatlan

Venture away from your beachfront resort to discover one of Mexico’s most interesting city centers

 

If you think of Mazatlan only in terms of beachfront high-rises and nightclubs, you need to get outside the Zona Dorada and travel a few miles south to the heart of old town. What you’ll discover is one of the most charming and authentic historic districts in all of Mexico. Here, a vibrant renewal movement has seen a growing number of structures from the 18th and 19th centuries resort to their former prime and now house an eclectic community of artists, artisans and urbanites. In all, there are some 480 buildings designated as national historic landmarks in Mazatlan’s Zona Historico.

The best way to experience this village within a city is by foot. A good starting point is the shaded Plazuela Machado, which lies at the heart of a 20-block area of cobblestone streets fronted by shops, galleries, sidewalk cafés and restored residences. Take in the magnificent Angela Peralta Theater, which still hosts a range of performing arts, then turn north, pause at landmarks such as the Juarez and Lizarraga buildings, then continue on to the wrought-iron bandstand at the center of the Plaza de la República. This gathering point is flanked by the historic city hall and the city’s largest cathedral, the Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción. Constructed in an intriguing combination of Gothic and Moorish styles, the cathedral houses a noteworthy collection of statues and art jewelry. Finish your tour with a visit to the José Maria Pino Suarez Market, more often referred to as simply “el Mercado.” Here, under a sprawling common roof, one can browse and engage vendors offering everything from fresh produce to local handicrafts, or grab a bite at one of the numerous small eateries found on the upper floor.

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