The city of AGUASCALIENTES, 177km north of Guanajuato, is an important and booming provincial capital with some fine colonial monuments in among its newer buildings. Founded in 1575 by Spanish captain Juan de Montoro Rodríguez, Aguascalientes has mushroomed into a metropolitan area of almost one million today, with the newest development – malls, cinemas, luxury hotels – north of the centre along Hwy-45. Business travellers tend to stay up here, but if you’ve come to see the sights make for the centro histórico instead, arranged around the Plaza de la Patria, with its grand cathedral, and the Palacio de Gobierno, with its impressive murals. A couple of engrossing museums, including tributes to artists José Posada and Saturnino Herrán, make the city an intriguing place to stop over for a day or two, especially when you take into account its tempting array of street food, particularly the sumptuous bírria (roast goat or mutton stew), and the city’s reputation for some of the finest fiestas in Mexico – the Feria de San Marcos is the biggest, but rarely a week goes by without a celebration, or at least a band playing in one of the plazas at the weekend.

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