Semana Santa 2012 in Taxco

Taxco was one of the great silver mining cities of colonial Mexico.  It is located in the State of Guerrero and the trip there from Querétaro takes about six hours by bus, including a transfer in Toluca.  Julie, her sister Sylvia, and I headed there to observe the famed religious processions of Semana Santa (Holy Week) and to purchase some of Taxco’s renowned silver jewelry.

The city is built on steep hills and you have to be prepared for climbing up and down during your visit.  The Hotel Los Arcos, where we stayed, is a beautifully restored colonial building in the center of town near the main plaza and the Church of Santa Prisca.  The church has an elaborately carved facade of pink stone and two tall bell towers that can be seen from anywhere in the area as a point of reference.

The activities related to Semana Santa reenact the Passion, including Roman soldiers wandering the streets looking for Christ, the crucifixion depicted by the carrying of statues from the various churches in Taxco through the streets of the city, and — most dramatically — black-hooded penitents walking through the town in varying states of anguish.  The largest group of penitents carries heavy bundles of thorned blackberry canes, each weighing about 100 pounds, on their shoulders.  A group of women bearing heavy crosses in their arms and chains on their ankles walked stooped over through the steep streets.  Finally, a small group of men carrying heavy crosses stop in the procession and flagellate themselves by hitting their backs with whips until they draw blood.  The Catholic Church authorities discourage this last practice, but it still has numerous adherents.

If you can turn away from the medieval drama before you, Taxco is a pretty town with good restaurants and fine shops.  The Bender sisters found many places that offered quality silver jewelry.  We also visited a silver museum and learned that the modern silver industry was created by a resident American professor (William Spratling) during the 1930s and 1940s.  The luxury Hotel Monte Taxco is located on a hill outside of town and has a cafe that overlooks the valley and offers a great view of the city below.  Finally, no trip to Taxco would be complete without sampling pozole, a corn-based soup and meal in a bowl that is popular throughout Mexico, but especially noteworthy here.

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