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Nestled in the warm, dry center of Mexico, the medium-sized city of Salamanca - with a population of about a quarter of a million - is a prosperous industrial center, including several automobile manufacturing plants. It was established more than four centuries ago in what was then a cattle ranching and agricultural area, named after the city in Spain. The surrounding area still includes farms, oak forests and vast areas of chaparral filled with local wildlife.
The city is known for its many churches, some of which date back to the mid-1600s. The most famous is Iglesia de San Agustin, one of the most important churches in Mexico. Built over a period of 65 years, from 1641 until 1705, the eleven gilded altars bring visitors from all over Latin America. Less grand, but certainly as beautiful, is the Parroquia de Santa Maria de Nativitas, a 17th-century baroque church built from pink stone and decorated with indigenous motifs. Be sure to visit the former Convent of San Juan de Sahagun with its magnificent courtyard.
Salamanca is also a center for crafts, particularly well-known for Christmas nativity scenes made of wax, as well as works of bronze and pewter. You can stop by workshops to see how they are made, and many shops in the city offer a wide range of their works. Don't forget to haggle, at least a little bit.
As you would expect in an up-and-coming city, there are several modern hotels available with reasonable prices. You'll also find a wonderful variety of restaurants, from cafes and coffee-dessert shops to tapas. For more serious dining, there are also some elegant restaurants where you can enjoy regional dining at its finest.