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The oldest formally established city in Guanajuato, Salvatierra's biography goes back well before the era of Franciscan friars and Spanish colonists: The area has many centuries of indigenous roots, notably the Chichimeca and Purepecha peoples; a native name for it was Guatzindeo, "Place of Beautiful Vegetation." Given the native heritage and the rich spread of colonial relics, it certainly ranks among the most historically fascinating destinations in the state.
Among the best-known landmarks in this "Pueblo Magico" is the magnificent Capuchin Nuns' Temple and Convent, also called the Capuchinas Fortress Convent, a UNESCO-listed monument. Other landmarks of Spanish rule include the Templo del Carmen--well representing the Churrigueresque architectural style of New Spain--and the Batanes Bridge, a span across the River Lerma that was constructed back in the mid-1600s.
You can bolster the sense of Salvatierra history that arises from such time-tested architecture with a visit to the City Museum and Historic Archive. When you need a break from psychogeographic time travel, meanwhile, head for the city center--the Plaza de Armas--and avail yourself of some ice cream, or dive into the energy of the Hidalgo Market.
Salvatierra has its outdoorsy attractions as well, including Guanajuato's highest peak, Cerro Culiacán, and the riverside green space of El Sabinal Park, where cobblestone paths weave amid parkland, gardens, and riparian groves of Montezuma bald-cypress: long-lived conifers called ahuehuete after a Nahuatl name translating to "Old Man of the Water."
An ancient riverbank tree, a centuries-old cathedral, the flavor of a local cuisine deliciously interwoven with indigenous and Old World influences: Salvatierra definitely comes steeped in its very own timeless magic.