It is built in a deep, narrow ravine, 2450m (8050 feet) above sea-level, with narrow, crooked streets (callejones in Spanish) climbing the steep hillsides, and white, flat-roofed houses. The colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and features elaborately decorated buildings, cobblestone streets, and wrought-iron lanterns. The more modern outer suburbs are a mix of cinderblock shanties and gated upper-class communities.
Cathedral of Zacatecas
The city is centered on the Plaza de Armas, a small open square bordered by the cathedral and the governor's palace. Other small plazas and parks (jardines) dot the city, among them the Jardin de la Independencia and the tiny (200 sq. foot) Jardin de Juarez.
The cathedral is an elaborately carved red-stone structure, but its once richly decorated interior was looted during the civil wars of the 19th and 20th centuries. Churches abound, and many have been converted recently into art galleries or museums.
Zacatecas is home to the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and a branch of the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Overlooking the city from an elevation of 500 ft. is the Cerro de la Bufa, a rocky outcropping crowned by a chapel and which is a popular spot for hiking and taking in the view of the city below.
Zacatecas was founded in 1546 and was built over a rich vein of silver discovered by Juan de Tolosa in the same year. This and other mines in the vicinity attracted a large population, and it soon became one of the chief mining centres of Mexico. Mining is now no longer as important a part of the local economy, and in fact the primary mine (the mina el eden) has been converted into a tourist attraction, including an underground disco in a large hollowed out cave. Indeed, the city of Zacatecas is a popular tourist destination for Mexicans, and many of the local businesses cater to them.
Tourists particularly visit Zacatecas during the September Feria nacional de Zacatecas and again in the spring during Holy Week.