Officially named Victoria de Durango in 1828 in honor of Mexico's first president Guadalupe Victoria who hailed from here, Durango was originally founded by Captain Francisco de Ibarra in 1563. Prior to the city's establishment, it had been the refuge of tribes like the Nahoas, Zacatecans, and Tepehuanos. Ibarra picked the site for Durango due to its proximity to silver mining prospects and a mission called Analco that furnished essential supplies. Over the years, Durango saw the deaths of revolutionaries like Miguel Hidalgo during the War of Independence and direct action a century later during the Mexican Revolution. Then, more fun times came about with the introduction of filmmaking industry to the area, mostly related to westerns, which still colors the city's personality today.
Durango sits in a bit of a bland high (~6200 ft) plain called the Valley of Guadiana, but sits close enough to the Sierra Madre Occiendental to the west to make excursions to sites like Parque Nacional Mexiquillo possible.
- 1 Durango International Airport (General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport), Carretera Miguel Alemán 15.5, ☏ . is a very small airport that has flights from Mexico City and direct flights from the U.S. from Chicago on certain days. The airport is a 15-minute drive from the city center of Durango by taxi.
You can easily cover the main attraction of the center by foot. The bus station is around 4-5 km northeast from the city center; you can get a local bus from the center (10 pesos).
- 1 Basilica of Durango (Basilica Menor Inmaculada Concepción), Av 20 de Noviembre, ☏ . Founded around 1695 and finished in 1844, its design includes Byzantine vaults and a cupola with angels painted inside. Don't miss the Museo de Arto Secro while checking out the structure. Also, fronting the basilica is the Plaza de Armas around which the city of Durango is centered.
- 2 Regional Museum of Durango, Victoria Sur 100, ☏ . Museum in a French-style palace formerly belonging to Francisco Gómez Palacio that has over 1000 items to showcase the history of the state of Durango.
- 3 [dead link] Ganot-Peschard Museum of Archeology, Zaragoza 315, ☏ . 10:00-18:00 Tu-F, 11:00-18:00 Sa-Su, closed M. This museum has some skeletons and pottery and other significant elements pertaining mostly to the pre-Hispanic human history of the area. ~ MXN 10.
- 4 Museo Francisco Villa, Calle 5 de Febrero (inside government palace building). 09:00-17:00 Tu-F, 09:00-16:00 Sa-Su, closed M. Museum about the colorful Mexican historical figure Pancho Villa who was from Durango State. The architectural aesthetic of the Palacio Gobierno in which it is housed is also intriguing.
- 5 Palacio del Conde del Valle de Súchil (Casa de Cultura Banamex), Avenida 5 de Febrero Ote (inside Banamex bank), ☏ . 10:00-19:00 M-Sa, 10:00-18:00 Su. Colonial-style home of the former Count of Suchil.
- 6 Museo de la Ciudad 450, Av 20 de Noviembre, ☏ . Lime/sandstone building from 19th century that used to be a local miner's residence called Escárzaga Palace. Features a lot of exhibits related to area filmmaking history.
- 7 Teatro Ricardo Castro, Calle Bruno Martínez, ☏ . French-style building built in 1925 with murals.
- 8 Palacio de Zambrano (Teatro Victoria). Dates to 1798 or so and is the oldest theater in northern Mexico. It was originally a part of the estate of someone with the surname Zambrano.
- 9 Templo de San Agustín. Neoclassical style with rose window.
- 10 Museo Palacio de los Gurza, Calle Negrete 901, ☏ . 10:00-18:00 daily. Gallery for art and sculpture and area for reading/relaxation. Part of the Durango cultural center.
- 11 Museo de las Culturas Populares, Calle 5 de Febrero 1107. 08:00-18:00 Tu-Su, closed M. Showcases implements and handicrafts of indigenous people in the surrounding area.
- 12 Parroquía de San Juan Bautista. Church standing in the area where the original Analco mission and historic area were located.
- 13 Templo Expiatorio Del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Calle 5 de Febrero s/n, ☏ . Neo-Romantic style. Vaulted ceilings and a large-scale grandeur will catch your attention here.
- 14 Templo de Santa Ana. Another big one from colonial times.
- 15 Old railway station (Antigua Estacion de Ferrocarril). While it's not longer possible to travel by train to Durango, the restored old station with a beautifully restored steam engine, is worth a visit.
- 16 Fundidora de Ferreria Parque, ☏ . 08:00-21:00 daily. Old mining ruins (iron foundry) that has some real eye appeal. In this case, last does not mean least in this list of attractions.
- See the western filmsets:
- 1 Chupaderos. Pueblo still retains the movie sets and overall character of an old Western town with gallows and such eccentricities. It was used as a filming location for many movies including John Wayne films.
- 2 Villa del Oeste, Puente Carretera a Parral Km 12 (Villa del Oeste about 1km southeast of Chupaderos, walkable), ☏ . 11:00-19:00 Tu-Su, closed M. Main movie set area set up for tourists with about three re-enactments of shootouts or other exciting theatrics a day. Nominal fee.
In City Limits
- 3 Teleférico, Mirador de los Remedios. 10:00-21:30 Tu-Su, closed M. Enjoy a cable car ride across the city with a narrated tour.
- 4 Paseo Constitucion. To get a solid feel for the historical quarter, try this pedestrian walkway stretching from the Hidalgo Garden to the north past the plaza de armas and basilica to the Paseo des Alamedas in the south. It is very tourist-friendly.
- 5 [dead link] Sahuatoba Park and Zoo. 11:00-17:00 Tu-W, Sa-Su; unknown hours other days. Zoological park and additional parkland of the city.
- 6 El Bebeleche, Lic. Armando del Castillo Franco Km 1.5, Parque Sahuatoba, ☏ . Interactive children's museum.
- 7 Guadiana Park. Durango's main greenspace for exercising or relaxing along ponds.
- 8 Paseo Túnel Mineria Durango, Calle Lic. Benito Juárez 313. 10ː00-21ː30 Tu-Sa, 13ː00-21ː30 Su. Tour of underground mining passageways below the City of Durango where you can learn all about the mining heritage here.
- 1 Mercado Gomez Palacio. 08ː30-20ː30 M-Sa, 08ː30-13ː30 Su. This market goes back over 200 years and can be a good place to find your favorite Mexican handicrafts as well as plants and other accessories.
- 2 Paseo Durango, Blvd Felipe Pescador. 10ː00-22ː00 daily. Durango's main modern shopping mall, with theater.
Some of the more authentic dishes from Durango are caldillo Duranguense (a type of stew with meat and poblano peppers), asado rojo (meaty chunks in sauce), and gorditas (literally: little fatties). Also associated with Durango is the practice of eating a scorpion (el alacrán) on your food, though whether this is actually practiced by the inhabitants or just folklore may require some investigation.
- 1 Restaurante La Victoria, Victoria Nte. 161, ☏ . 08:00-22:00 daily. A place to try some local fare in the historical downtown center. Here you can get some gorditas or enchiladas, huevos rancheros, sopas, etc at a decent price.
- 2 Restaurante Mendoza, Hidalgo 317, ☏ . 08ː00-17ː00 daily. Bit of a testament to Durango's movie production and colonial theme here. And offering of authentic dishes with a finely attuned nuance for turning out delicious flavors.
- 3 Jardín de los Canarios, Fray Carlos Medina 200, ☏ . 08:00-13:45 daily. Good breakfast place with coffee and Nahuatl chilaquiles.
- Centro Deportivo Juvenil, Colegio Militar, near pedestrian bridge 0.5 km south of bus terminal. Basic accommodation in dorms, dorms 50 pesos.
- 1 Escalón 33 (Step 33), Callejón Florida #1135 int. 5 Cerro (next to the calvary central library and behind the cable car), ☏ . Formerly Durango Travellers Hostel, this budget accommodation has shared rooms in separate areas for ladies and gentlemen. Central location, free internet throughout the hostel, a continental breakfast, fully equipped kitchen, an entertainment room with a screen, a fubolito and computer. A terrace with a good view. €10.
- 2 Hostel La Casa De Bruno, Calle Bruno Martínez 508, ☏ . Hostel where you can rent a bike and enjoy a lounge/garden. MXN 475.
- 3 Fiesta Inn Durango, Avenida, Blvd. Felipe Pescador 1401 (in Paseo Durango mall), ☏ . Should be a fairly fun stay given that it's attached to a mall with a movie theater and such things. Also has a restaurant of its own. MXN 743.
- 4 Hotel Posada San Agustin, Av 20 de Noviembre 906, ☏ . A hotel with a very old-world feel. And you can walk to all the historical sites in town. MXN 640.
- 5 Hotel Gobernador, Av 20 de Noviembre 257, ☏ . It's kind of spendy, but you get the Durango hacienda flavor here with the architecture and persona. Plus has a pool and nice dining room experience. MXN 867.
Try some Sierra Occidental sightseeing like the Parque Ecologico El Tecuan or Parque Nacional Mexiquillo, particularly noted for its waterfalls and mountain scenery, for some outdoor recreation.