The Centro Histórico (city center), with all its plazas, churches, and museums, will obviously be of interest to the visitor. The west side is Guadalajara's modern, cosmopolitan district. In the northwest corner is Zapopan, home of Guadalajara's patron saint. On the opposite side of the city from Zapopan, in the southeast corner, are the craft centers of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá.
The main artery for traffic from downtown to the west side is Avenida Vallarta. It starts downtown as Juárez. The main arteries for returning to downtown are México and Hidalgo, both north of Vallarta. Vallarta heads due west, where it intersects another major artery, Avenida Adolfo López Mateos, at Fuente Minerva (or simply La Minerva, or Minerva Circle). Minerva Circle, a 15-minute drive from downtown, is the central point of reference for the west side. To go to Zapopan from downtown, take Avenida Avila Camacho, which you can pick up on Alcalde; it takes 20 minutes by car. To Tlaquepaque and Tonalá, take Calzada Revolución. Tlaquepaque is 8km (5 miles) from downtown and takes 15 to 20 minutes by car; Tonalá is 5 minutes farther. Another major viaduct, Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas, connects the west side to Tlaquepaque and Tonalá, bypassing downtown.
The Neighborhoods in Brief
Centro Histórico The heart of the city encompasses many plazas, the cathedral, and several historic buildings and museums. Here, too, are the striking murals of José Clemente Orozco, one of the great Mexican muralists. Theaters, restaurants, shops, and clubs dot the area, and an enormous market rounds out the attractions. All of this is in a space roughly 12 blocks by 12 blocks -- an easy area to explore on foot, with several plazas and pedestrian-only areas. To the south is a large green space called Parque Agua Azul.
West Side This is the swanky part of town, with the fine restaurants, luxury hotels, boutiques, and galleries, as well as the American, British, and Canadian consulates. It's a large area best navigated by taxi.
Zapopan Founded in 1542, Zapopan is a suburb of Guadalajara. In its center is the 18th-century basilica, the home of Guadalajara's patron saint, the Virgin of Zapopan. The most interesting part of Zapopan is clustered around the temple and can be explored on foot. It has a growing arts and nightlife scene.
Tlaquepaque This is another suburb that for centuries was a village of artisans (especially potters). It grew into a market center, and in the last 40 years, has attracted designers and artists from across Mexico. Every major form of art and craft is for sale here: furniture, pottery, glass, jewelry, woodcarvings, leather goods, sculptures, and paintings. The shops are sophisticated, yet Tlaquepaque's center retains a small-town feel that makes door-to-door browsing enjoyable and relaxing.
Tonalá This has remained a town of artisans. Plenty of stores sell mostly local products from the town's more than 400 workshops. You'll see wrought iron, ceramics, blown glass, and papier-mâché. A busy street market operates each Thursday and Sunday.
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