Taxco - For most people in Mexico and in fact around the world, the word silver is most associated with the hillside city of Taxco (pronounced tahs-ko). Perched along the mountainside at 5,000 feet, Taxco de Alarcón, as it's officially known, offers incredible views from almost any location. For the traveler there are the narrow and often hidden cobblestone streets and alleys, charming cafes and restaurants, and a wide variety of lodgings to meet any budget.
Rich in history, Taxco was originally discovered and conquered by Hernan Cortez 1552. Two hundred years later French prospector Joseph de la Borda discovered a rich silver deposit, which made him very wealthy. With this great wealth, Borda commissioned the seven year long construction of the Parish of Santa Prisca, giving rise to the famous words: "God gives to Borda, Borda gives to God". Today Santa Prisca is both the visual and historical center of Taxco, and the great cost of its elaborate construction and interior decoration left Borda nearly penniless at his death.
Hillside view of Santa Prisca parish
Eventually the silver mines became nearly exhausted - only one small mine remains in operation today. In 1929, American architect William Spratling arrived in Taxco intending to write a book. Taking notice of the local silver artisans, Spratling opened up a workshop and exported the goods back to the United States. The workshop grew and added apprentices, which eventually gave new life to the silver craftsmanship, and to the city. Thanks to Spratling Taxco is the world's capital of silver, with over 200 shops and dozens of renowned silver jewelers.
Shoppers from all over Mexico and tourists alike, come here to see the greatest quantity and variety of silver objects, knowing the best bargains are found here. Many travelers make Taxco an overnight trip, but with so much to see and do in such a compact area, it's well worth at least a two night stay. Getting around town is done on foot along the narrow but safe streets (pace yourself up the steeper sections), plentiful taxis, or in the very inexpensive, open door VW buses called burritos that that locals use.
Close-up of stonework at Santa Prisca
Some of the better known sights in Taxco include: the world famous Parish of Santa Prisca and San Sebastian church, one of Mexico's best baroque churches; Plaza Borda, the central plaza in town with shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels nearby; the Casa Borda, housing Taxco's cultural museum; the Humbolt House, now a historical museum of 18th-century items; the Spratling Archaeological Museum; the Taxco Silver Museum.
Taxco also hosts a busy silver Tianguis, or marketplace, every Saturday starting at 10 a.m., which runs right along the main street through town and has dozens of stalls selling silver items of every variety and at bargain prices.
Getting to Taxco or nearby Cuernavaca is easily done by bus, from either Acapulco or Mexico City. From Acapulco, the first class Estrella de Oro bus line makes frequent daily runs. From the Mexico City airport, first class buses leave directly from the airport for Cuernavaca and Taxco. Buses in Mexico are cheap and comfortable.
Hidden cobblestone alleys of Taxco
Plaza Borda, Taxco's cental zocalo
Miner welcomes you to this silver store
Narrow cobblestone streets of Taxco
School children take a guided tour of the
Santa Prisca parish