Zapopan is home to some of the best hotels, top universities, largest religious processions and richest artistic and cultural life in the Guadalajara area. It is at once colonial and historic, with a wealth of colonial-era religious and civic buildings as well as the most luxurious shopping mall in Guadalajara in the modern La Plaza Andares area.
With a population of 1.2 million, Zapopan is the second most populated district in the state of Jalisco, topped only by neighboring of Guadalajara itself. The downtown area is always crowded because of its markets, restaurants, churches, and museums, while the surrounding areas boasts vast and beautiful gardens ideal for a quiet stroll.
One of its principal attractions is the Basilica of Zapopan, where thousands gather every October 12th to escort the Virgin of Zapopan, made by native artisans from corn stalks and wood in the early 16th century, from the basilica to the Metropolitan Cathedral and back. The Museum of the Virgin of Zapopan (El Museo de la Virgin de Zapopan) presents an impressive collection of mantles made with gold and silver thread, offered to the Virgin in grateful for the miracles attributed to her.
Among the more secular festivals the area is known for are “Las fiestas de Octubre” (October parties) which since 1965 have presented a month of concerts, dance, local crafts, amusement rides and cinema.
Zapopan is also home to the “Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara”, “Universidad del Valle de Atemajac”, “Universidad Marista de Guadalajara”, “Tecnológico de Monterrey”, “Universidad Panamericana,” “Universidad del Valle de México” as well as El Colegio de Jalisco (Jaliscos College).
Its cultural and artistic attractions, supported in part by the local government and the University of Guadalajara, begin with the ¨MAZ¨ museum of modern and alternative art. “El Trompo Magico” is an interactive museum dedicated to the children, and presents several themes related to the arts, science, civic relations, among others.
If you are keen on native history “El Museo del Arte Huchil Wicarica” offers visitors a permanent exhibition of craftsmanship and the opportunity to buy men and women’s clothing, as well as jewelry, and handbags. Or, if you are into ecotourism, consider climbing at el Cerro del Diente about eight miles north of Guadalajara.
If you’re hungry after all the touring, there are many food choices, many of which are based on corn. Among the most popular are “tamales” and “pozole”. Its main dish is a “Torta ahogada”, which consists of pork meat and beans in crunchy bread with a very spicy sauce of tomatoes and chile de arbol.
If you like sweets, try Tejuino, a fermented drink of corn created by the “huicholes” (a native group from the west regions of Mexico). Served with lemon and sugar, it is a popular drink often sold outside schools.