Visit Taxco, Mexico's Silver Capital

Santa Prisca church in Taxco, Guerrero
Santa Prisca church in Taxco. Kryssia Campos / Getty Images

Taxco de Alarcon, Mexico's silver capital, is a charming colonial town nestled in the mountains of Guerrero state between Mexico City and Acapulco. It's one of Mexico's "Magical Towns" and it's easy to see why: the town's winding cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses with red tile roofs, and its impressive Santa Prisca cathedral all combine to make Taxco a lovely and picturesque place to visit. As a bonus, anyone interested in buying some silver will find the greatest selection here, as well as good prices.

History of Taxco

In 1522, the Spanish conquistadors learned that the inhabitants of the area around Taxco paid tribute to the Aztecs in silver, and they set about conquering the region and setting up mines. In the 1700s, Don Jose de la Borda, a Frenchman of Spanish descent, arrived in the area and became very wealthy from silver mining. He commissioned the baroque Santa Prisca Church that is the centerpiece of Taxco's Zócalo.

The town's silver industry later experienced a lull until the arrival of Willam Spratling in 1929, who opened a silver workshop. His designs, which were based on pre-Hispanic art, became very popular. He trained other artisans and is thought to be responsible for Taxco's reputation as the silver capital of Mexico.

Things to do in Taxco

The most popular activity in Taxco is shopping for silver - see below for some shopping tips, but you'll find plenty of other things to do.

  • Visit the Santa Prisca church - the construction of this church was funded by Jose de la Borda.
  • Visit the Museo de la Plateria, the silver museum, where you can learn about the process for crafting silver, and see some fine pieces on display.
  • Have a "Bertha" - a lime and tequila concoction in Bar Bertha above the Plaza de la Borda, and enjoy the view of the plaza.
  • Take a ride in the cable car that goes up to Monte Taxco Hotel for some great photo ops!

Shopping for Silver

You will find a wide range of silver to select from in Taxco, from high-quality hand-crafted original pieces to mass-produced cheap trinkets. Silver pieces should be marked with a .925 stamp, which signifies that it is Sterling Silver, comprising 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, which makes it durable. You'll more rarely find a 950 stamp which means it's made up of 95% silver. Most of the silver shops sell silver pieces by weight, with a variable rate depending on the merchant and the quality of the work. For special pieces and collector's items, head to the Spratling workshop, located in Taxco Viejo.

Hotels in Taxco

You can visit Taxco as a long day trip from Mexico City (it's about a two hour drive each way), but you're much better off going and spending at least one night. It's lovely at sunset, and in the evening there are many little bars and restaurants where you can have a drink or a nice meal. Here are some recommended places to spend the night:

Hotel Agua Escondida
Located on the Plaza Borda, Taxco's Zocalo, this hotel offers clean rooms decorated in Mexican style and also has a pool, a good restaurant and wireless Internet. Read reviews and get rates for Hotel Agua Escondida.

Montetaxco Hotel
Take the cable car to get up to the mountainside hotel, which offers great views of Taxco and an excellent restaurant. Read reviews and get rates for Hotel Montetaxco.

Hotel de la Borda
This hotel is located on a lovely site just outside of Taxco, with a view of the Cathedral. Rooms are decorated in 1950s style and there is a hotel pool. Read reviews and get rates for Hotel de la Borda.

Festivities in Taxco

Santa Prisca's Feast Day is on January 18th and Taxco bursts with activity celebrating the town's patron saint. Festivities begin at days when people gather outside the Santa Prisca church to sing Las Mañanitas to Santa Prisca.

The Jornadas Alarconianas, a cultural festival, takes place each summer to commemorate Juan de Alarcon, a playwright from Taxco. Festivities include plays, literary events, dance performances and concerts.

The Feria de la Plata, the annual Silver Fair, takes place at the end of November or beginning of December.