Destination Mexico

Taxco Forged in Silver

Taxco, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, is favored by thousands of tourists and silver-seekers who know they will be treated to the finest-quality handicrafts at reasonable prices.

Text and photos:  Vicky Santana Cortés

The From a distance, the white houses with pitched red roofs seem embedded in the mountain terraces. Built on seven hills, Colonial mansions, churches, and hotels are scattered across the green landscape that rolls through the entire Sierra Madre del Sur.

The taxi from the bus terminal ―I took a deluxe bus from Mexico City― quickly climbs the narrow, winding streets to the Los Arcos Hotel, my temporary home away from home, located just steps from Taxco’s heart in the Zócalo or main square. The driver urges the taxi up the hill, but the car threatens to roll backward. Since there are no sidewalks, the driver leans on the horn to warn passersby walking alongside the road. Walking here may require a bit of bravado, but it is really the only way to enjoy the lanes of Taxco.

It is Saturday, one of the best days for silver shopping. Hundreds of artisans and sellers crowd the tianguis (traditional market) to offer the highest-quality silver jewelry at reasonable prices, attracting thousands of tourists and buyers who come here for the weekend.

Silver Capital of the World

Many centuries of stories of work, sorrow, and love have given Taxco de Alarcón ― named in honor of playwright and author Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, one of its most illustrious sons― the title of “silver capital of the world.”

An expedition led by Spaniard Hernán Cortés in 1521 found deposits of the white metal close to this former Tlahuica settlement, leading to the founding of a nearby colony to work the “King’s Pit,” as the silver mine was known. By the end of the 16th century, Taxco was known far and wide; it supplied Europe with precious metals for many years. However, new deposits in Latin America pushed Taxco into obscurity for more than two hundred years, until José d