The streets of Tlaquepaque are lined with dozens of brilliantly colored, beautifully decorated buildings, most of them private homes, lending the whole town a bright, lively atmosphere. Amidst the residences, several historically significant buildings can be found, especially around Tlaquepaque’s plaza. What follows are brief descriptions of a few of them.
If the pedestrian pathway of Independencia is the spine of Tlaquepaque, the Plaza’s Hidalgo Garden is the heart. The garden is perhaps the busiest place in town, particularly in the early evening hours, when the whole town turns out for a stroll. On the southeast side, where the Hidalgo Gardens, El Parian, the city hall, and the municipal market all converge, the street gets crowded with vendors selling food and drinks, toys and games, birds, dolls, clothing, arts and crafts—all sorts of fun stuff, cheap and imaginative toys being one of the strong suits. It’s a mob scene but very relaxed, and it’s great fun to feel like you’re a part of it, especially if you’ve got some kids who need distracting.
Parroquia de San Pedro Tlaquepaque
Built in 1813, the pueblo’s namesake church of St. Peter combines Byzantine and Romanesque architectural styles. Located on the north side of the plaza, it has served as a parish church since 1845. I’m no Catholic, not even a Christian if truth be told, and only visit churches to experience the architecture and ambience—and this one definitely has plenty of atmosphere and a wealth of details to admire.
Santuario de la Soledad (Sanctuary of Solitude)
Construction of this ancient gem began in 1742 and was completed a mere 136 years later in 1878. Located just across a pedestrian walkway from the church, the sanctuary combines Romantic, Neoclassic, and Byzantine design elements. I’d call it another place to sit, cool off, and contemplate your navel, your god, or your aching feet if you’ve been pounding the tourist pavement all day long.
Museo Regional de Ceramica
Two ceramics museums now grace Tlaquepaque. The original one is the regional ceramic museum, a fine collection spanning the history of ceramics in Mexico. The pieces are displayed in eight rooms in a house originally constructed in the 19th century on Independencia, the pedestrian walking street.
Pantaleon Panduran Museum
The namesake of this museum was a self-taught ceramic artist from Tlaquepaque who perhaps more than any other local artist helped elevate the ceramics tradition of the region from craft to art. Housed in an old convent that has been transformed in El Refugio Cultural Center, the museum features ceramic artworks created all over Mexico, each year displaying the winners of a national ceramics contest held in Tlaquepaque.
Cultural Centre El Refugio
This rambling building served as a hospital from its original construction in 1865 right up until closing in 1979. Four years later it was transformed into the cultural center, home to the Pantaleon Panduran Museum, exhibition space for annual art markets, and special exhibitions such as the recent one on vampires, werewolves, and other monsters.