Guadalajara 

Guadalajara, pronounced gwah-dah-lah-hah«-rah

Guadalajara is a city located in the Atemajac Valley in west central Mexico at an altitude of 1,552 m (5,092 ft). The capital and service center of Jalisco state and the second largest city in Mexico, it has a city-proper population of 1,633,316 (1995) and a metropolitan-area population of 3,300,000 (1995 est.).  The cities total population surpassed 6,000,000 in the year 2000.  The city lies in a rich farming region.

The tree-shaded public squares and parks of this beautiful old city date back to Mexico’s days as a Spanish colony.  Guadalajara is an important manufacturing center.  It has won fame for its fine pottery and blown glass.  Other products include textiles, hosiery, flour, steel, and alcoholic beverages.  The city was founded in the year 1531 by Nuno de Guzmán, a Spanish conquistador.  It was named for the city in Spain where Guzmán was born.

The surrounding area has rich volcanic soil and a mild climate, with an annual mean temperature of 12º C (53.8º F) and annual precipitation of 965 mm (38 inches). As a result, agricultural productivity is high. Jalisco state is Mexico’s leading producer of maize and beans, which are marketed in the city. A financial center of western Mexico and an important education center, Guadalajara is also an industrial city, producing foodstuffs, chemicals, electronic goods, iron and steel, textiles, handicrafts (such as hand-blown glass, pottery, and cloth), and leather goods. Universities located in the city are the University of Guadalajara (1792; restructured 1925), the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (1935), and a campus of La Salle University of Mexico (1962).

A large colony of retirees from the United States live in Guadalajara. They and the many tourists contribute substantially to the city’s economy. Music is one of the main attractions of this part of Mexico. Guadalajara is regarded as the home of the “mariachis” groups of strolling musicians, dressed in their special garb with the large brimmed decorated hats.  They sing their own special music and play instruments such as the guitar, violin and trumpet at many special occasions.  The mariachis music from Mexico is recognized through the world.

José Clemente Orozco, a leading Mexican artist who lived and worked in the city for many years, painted some of his most famous murals in the Hospicio Caba–as, a 19th-century orphanage; the Hospicio is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several buildings have murals by José Clemente Orozco, a famous painter.  The city contains numerous significant buildings from the colonial period. Many of them are clustered around five plazas in the city center, including the cathedral of Guadalajara, completed in 1618 and containing a painting, the Assumption of the Virgin, attributed to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and the 18th-century Governor’s Palace, which also contains an Orozco mural. In addition to the universities, other cultural resources include several major museums and Agua Azul Park.

Guadalajara was founded  in the year 1530 and established on its present site in 1542. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla captured it in 1810, and for a short time it was the center of the Mexican independence movement.