How to Spend One Day in Dolores Hidalgo
Clearly, Mexico is chock-full of history, but where it all began, or rather where you'll find the origins of present-day Mexico, is in the town of Dolores Hidalgo in the state of Guanajuato. It was here on September 16, 1810 that Mexican priest turned revolutionary leader Miguel Hidalgo called for the nation to pick up arms against Spain, thereby inciting the War of Independence which was finally won in 1821. Formerly known only as Dolores, the town was renamed Dolores Hidalgo in honor of Miguel Hidalgo after Mexico gained its independence.
Today, visitors can marvel at the landmarks dedicated to Hidalgo, wander the vast plaza, explore the churches and cobblestone streets, and try some of the town's unique local ice cream flavors (shrimp, anyone?).
Things to do in dolores hidalgo
Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Dolores This is the church where Hidalgo rang the bell in the early hours of September 16, 1810 and uttered his famous cry that sparked the Mexican Revolution, also known as the Grito de Dolores or Grito de Independencia. Although the exact words used have been lost to time, the gist of the speech is something along the lines of "Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines (Spanish-born lords who ruled in Mexico)!"
Statue of Hidalgo Located in Plaza Principal, directly in front of the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, you'll find a commemorative statue depicting Miguel Hidalgo giving his Grito de Dolores. Around the statue you'll find plenty of shaded park benches to rest and enjoy the impressive sight of the cathedral in the background, along with food vendors, inexpensive shoe shine stands, and people selling hand-churned ice cream.
Museo Casa de Hidalgo Miguel Hidalgo lived in this building prior to the Revolution when he was a priest living in Dolores. It was in this house that he conspired with other revolutionary figures Ignacio Allende and Juan de Aldama to launch the uprising against Spanish rule. Today, visitors will find the museum filled with replicas of furniture and documents. Open from 10am to 4:30pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Ice Cream It would be a sin to leave Dolores Hidalgo without trying some of the locally made ice cream. Among the more common flavors, you'll find everything from shrimp, mole, avocado, chicharrón (fried pork rinds), tequila, and beer varieties.
Tomb of José Alfredo Jiménez Born in Dolores Hidalgo in 1926, José Alfredo Jiménez holds a legendary status in Mexico for composing and performing over 1000 rancheras, traditional songs in a style which originates from before the Mexican Revolution. Like many great musical legends, he passed away far too soon (at 47 years old). Today, visitors can pay tribute at the site of his tomb in his birthplace of Dolores Hidalgo. It's estimated that thousands of visitors come from all over the world each week.
In the town center, you can also visit the Museo José Alfredo Jiménez which houses photographs, paintings, and recordings of the artist. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Nearby places of interest
Dolores Hidalgo is located almost in the middle between Guanajuato City and San Miguel de Allende, two beautiful and historic cities that each deserve your time. For a one-day itinerary, I would recommend choosing between Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo or San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo, but not all three otherwise you will feel incredibly rushed. If you want to see all three cities in one go, it's best to save them for a weekend road trip, or better yet, a 3-4 day tour.
But if you're going to combine a one-day trip to Dolores Hidalgo with San Miguel de Allende, then you definitely should make a stop at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco.
Santuario de Atotonilco A UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, the Santuario de Atotonilco is a stunning complex built in the 18th century by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro. According to legend, he was called upon to construct the site by a vision of Jesus carrying a cross with a crown of thorns on his head. While the exterior is simply painted, the interior contains the real showstopper: vast murals which have earned the the Santuario de Atotonilco the nickname "the Sistine Chapel of Mexico".
LOOKING FOR MORE MEXICO INSPIRATION?
Take a peek at some other Sidetracked articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico. Impressions from Día de los Muertos, 16 Quintessential Mexico City Experiences, and Zipolite and the Coast of Oaxaca: A Visitor’s Guide are great places to get started. Each article contains plenty of useful information to make your trip safe and enjoyable.
On my last trip to Mexico, I was grateful to have brought along Lonely Planet's Mexico guidebook. I found the book to be incredibly useful and referred to it on a daily basis for sightseeing and travel information.While many people speak English, this pocket-size Spanish phrasebook is perfect if you want to converse in the local language.