Rolling high-desert hills painted with a sprawl of colorful Colonial Baroque architecture punctuated by plazas, cathedral spires, and the occasional park. Narrow cobblestone streets lined with small shops selling handicrafts, leather goods, liquor, sweets, and gemstones from nearby mines. Cable cars pass high overhead on their way to the peak overlooking the city where people gather in the evening to watch the technicolor sunset.
It all coalesces to lend the Mexican city of Zacatecas that vital yet mysterious attitude that invites introspection, inspiration, and creation. This being the case, it should come as no surprise that there is an abundance of impressive artistic offerings in this small city in central Mexico. Few outsiders, however, are aware of them.
While it’s well known that Mexico has produced great art, the vast majority of attention is given to the museums, galleries, and artists of more frequented destinations like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, or Mérida. Zacatecas, on the other hand, is still something of a secret. Few realize that it is home to everything from expansive collections of Indigenous art to works by renowned figures like Dalí, Picasso, and Miró.
There are a few things you should know about Zacatecas, the seat of the Mexican state of the same name, before you go. Unlike most of Mexico’s main cities, Zacatecas is fairly remote, which means that it’s best to fly into a hub like Mexico City or Guadalajara and then take a short flight the rest of the way. Then there’s the talk about Zacatecas being unsafe. The city has seen a swell of violence in recent years resulting from a turf war between the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. While the U.S. State Department has raised warnings about visiting the state of Zacatecas, it does assert that Zacatecas City itself is safe to visit.
Below, a look at some of the most notable art spaces to see in Zacatecas.