The capital of the state of Durango is the perfect example of the Mexican architectural richness, a legacy from the colonial era. Its buildings, which expose their historic relevance, decorate streets and plazas and are homes to temples, museums, government buildings, theaters and cultural centers.
However, Durango is also characterized by the towns surrounding it, where time seems to be standing still, and by vast natural surroundings with parks nestled on the sierra mountains, waterfalls, lakes and natural preserves that are ideal for ecotourism.
Durango’s architecture: A history’s witness
A good number of colonial, baroque and gothic buildings can be found throughout the city. Some buildings, such as the San Agustin Temple and the Escarzaga Palace, display a clear French influence in their facade.
Most of the temples and churches are concentrated in the city’s downtown area. The Basilica Menor Cathedral, built with a baroque style and with a richly decorated quarry facade, is one of the most beautiful buildings in northern Mexico. Near the Cathedral one can find the San Agustin Temple, which stands out due to its beautiful main altar.
Likewise, the majestic Durango’s palaces open their doors to visitors. The Zambrano Palace, currently the state capitol, displays along its walls murals depicting the city’s historical stages. The Conde del Valle de Suchil Palace, with a marked baroque style, and the Escarzaga Palace, with an elegant French style, are also open to visitors.
At the Ricardo Castro Theater, also decorated with a French style, one can admire theater, opera, dance and music performances.
Durango also offers a wide variety of museums and cultural centers. A big house from the 19th century is home to the Durango Regional Museum, where, along fourteen halls, one can get to know the region’s historical development.
On the other hand, the Archeology Museum displays ancient objects belonging to the cultures that inhabited the area; and the Popular Culture Museum offers a wide collection of handcrafts from the Tepehuanos, Huichol, Tarahumara and Mexicanero Indians.
For those wishing to relax or take a stroll among trees, fountains and photo exhibitions, they can visit one of the corridors found throughout the city, such as the Constitucion Corridor and Las Alamedas.
Durango’s plazas, an identity symbol
The city has two main plazas: the Plaza de Armas and the Plaza IV Centenario.
The Plaza de Armas is surrounded by the Cathedral and buildings with large windows and balconies; here the locals come to relax in a bench, watch people go by and to meet relatives or friends.
At the Plaza IV Centenario one can find important buildings: the State Capitol, the State Congress and the Supreme Court.
Charming towns, forests and waterfalls
Just a few kilometers away, we can find two fascinating towns whose facades bring back memories of the wild west: Villas del Oeste and Chupaderos. These towns have been the filming grounds of many Western movies; furthermore, cancan dance shows and cowboys and sheriffs duels are recreated at night at some of the saloons.
Those looking for ecotourism activities will be delighted with all the options that Durango offers. At the Sahuatoba Museum one can admire a great variety of exotic animals in a setting much like the natural environment; on the other hand, Cuchillas is a great place to relax along its gardens, which possess more than 200 trees.
Another option is to rent a cabin at the Western Sierra Madre, where, besides a great view of the mountain chain, one can practice activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking and rappelling.
At the natural spots of Tecuan and Mexiquillo, steep hillsides, creeks and rock formations make a beautiful landscape. Mexiquillo is home to the Rock Garden, displaying rocks with very unique shapes and a waterfall one hundred feet in height.
The Devil’s Backbone, a road extending through mountains and ravines, offers a beautiful spectacle of the Western Sierra Madre.
From the kitchen to the table
The main ingredients of Durango’s gastronomy, a fortunate mix of sweet and spicy flavors, are beef jerky, the pasado chili (roasted and sundried) and cumin.
Even though there are a great variety of traditional dishes, there is one that stands out due to its great flavor and acceptance among locals: the durangueño stew. It is prepared in a clay pot and contains dried or fresh beef, grilled chilies, tomato and cumin, and it is served with corn tortillas.