Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guadalajara's Top 20, Number 15: Plaza Tapatía

Our Jeep is currently in the shop getting new tires, an oil change, and several other nips and tucks to prepare her for the long drive from Laredo, TX to Falls Church, VA that we will face next week.  To kill time in our now carless existence we walked downtown yesterday and had lunch at Terra Madre, a cute little cafe in Plaza Tapatía that I've had my eye on for about two years now. 

The plaza, a pedestrian thoroughfare filled with flowers and fountains, gets its name from the word Tapatío, a colloquial term derived from the Nahuatl word "tapatiotl" that is used to describe someone from Guadalajara.  It can also be used as an adjective for anything associated with this, Mexico's second largest city.  The plaza fills nine or so city blocks and links the back of Teatro Degollado... 

with the entrance to Hospicios Cabañas.

(Disclosure:  Due to the grand scale and of this plaza, you cannot actually see both of these buildings at the same time.  They're one block over, many blocks down from each other.)
The plaza was conceptualized following the 1978 approval of a plan for the Urbanization and Regeneration of the Metropolitan Center of Guadalajara, the objective of which was to create open spaces for entertainment and recreation while simultaneously preserving historical monuments and solving traffic problems.  All nice and good, but these traffic problems will only be solved by bulldozing the rest of downtown, too.  But I digress.

Sitting there sipping our limonadas and chowing down on fajitas and molcajetes we were afforded two views.  One, the ever bustling entrance to Mercado San Juan de Dios, and two, the Quetzacoatl Fountain (La Inmolación de Quetzalcoatl), designed by Victor Manuel Contreras.  During our first visit to Hospicios Cabañas our friend Genaro told us that the snake head once sat atop the 82-foot tall bronze piece in the fountain's center before an earthquake knocked it loose, but the proportions seem off.  I think he was messin' with us.  If anybody knows, please share in the comments section.  

Nearby, right outside the recently opened Church's Chicken (yes, THAT Church's Chicken) is a bronze sculpture of the city's coat of arms.  A replica sits atop a fountain in Plaza Guadalajara and the imagery adorns the state flag of Jalisco.  You may also remember that it was the inspiration for Leo, the second-most awesome mascot from last year's PanAmerican Games.

Speaking of the PanAm Games, one of my favorite features of the plaza is this rose.  Guadalaja's nickname is "The City of Roses," and to celebrate the games 42 roses by artist Karla de Lara were commissioned and spread throughout the city during an event known as RosaFest.  There was one rose for each country participating in the games, each sponsored by a different business here in Guadalajara.  TJ and I spent a weekend shortly after the games scouring the city in search of all 42 roses.  We found and photographed most of them, but some were unreachable due to being in places like the airport, past the security gate.  Grrr.

After the conclusion of the 2011 Parapan American Games the roses were returned to the companies that sponsored them, to be done with as desired.  Many companies opted to proudly display the roses in front of their office space, as was the case with Plaza Tapatía's Centro Magno Joyero, a large jewelry distributor.   If I recall correctly, this particular rose was originally located at  Hospicios Cabañas.  Seeing these roses peppered throughout the city, many of which were originally dispersed throughout this very plaza, is always a treat...a reminder of one of my favorite periods here in Guadalajara.

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