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Travel Warning WARNING: Zacatecas is one of the most crime-ridden states in Mexico with one of the highest murder rates in the country. Organised crime activity is rampant, and many criminal groups operate with impunity.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated 24 Feb 2023)

Zacatecas is a state in the Bajío region of Mexico. The state is best known for its rich deposits of silver and other minerals, its colonial architecture and its importance during the Mexican Revolution. Its main economic activities are mining, agriculture and tourism.


Map of Zacatecas (state)

  • 1 Zacatecas — a colonial silver-mining city nestled in a gorge, the capital of the state
  • 2 Fresnillo Fresnillo on Wikipedia — the center of a rich mining area known especially for silver
  • 3 Guadalupe — one of the Magical Towns of Mexico due to its architectural wealth
  • 4 Jalpa Jalpa, Zacatecas on Wikipedia — a colonial-style city, modeled by the French in the 19th century
  • 5 Jerez de García Salinas — a provincial colonial town situated on a basin
  • 6 Juan Aldama Juan Aldama, Zacatecas on Wikipedia — a small, clean ranch town with colorful streets
  • 7 Mazapil Mazapil Municipality on Wikipedia — a sparsely populated gold-mining municipality
  • 8 Taltenango Tlaltenango de Sánchez Román Municipality on Wikipedia — a town at the foot of the Sierra de Morones mountains
  • 9 Sombrerete — a quiet town that gives a real sense of "old Mexico"
  • 10 Valparaíso Valparaíso, Zacatecas on Wikipedia — known for its mountains, farms, hot springs, and for its history during the colonial era

Other destinations[edit]


The name Zacatecas is derived from Nahuatl and means "where there is abundant zacate (grass)".

Zacatecas at night

The state has three main geographical regions, the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west, the Mexican Plateau and the Sierra Madre Oriental. Most of it is in the Sierra Madre Occidental with highly rugged peaks of over 2,500 meters above sea level. The mountains of the southeast and northeast are lower but there are large valleys such as the Juchipila and Tlaltenango. Most of the territory has only small mesas and other areas of flat land. In the center of the state there is a small mountain chain called the Sierra de Fresnillo, from which much of the state's mineral wealth comes. In the extreme northwest there is another important mountain chain called the Sierra de Sombrerete, marked by a mountain called Sombreretillo, which is an important source of mineral wealth. Near this chain is another called the Sierra de Órganos.

Tourism includes the capital along with the designation of "Pueblos Mágicos" such as Jerez, Teul de Gonzalez Ortega and Sombrerete, along with the shrine of the Santo Niño de Atocha, which is visited by thousands every year. It also includes archeological sites such as Alta Vista and La Quemada along with thermal springs such as Paraíso Caxcan.


Most of the territory has a cool, dry climate, although areas in the south have more moisture, with most rain falling between June and September. The driest and coldest areas are in the northeast, known as the Salado because of its saltwater lakes. 75% of the state is arid or semi-arid. The coldest months are from November to January, with frost not uncommon. The warmest month is June. The state gets an average rainfall of 400 mm per year mostly in the summer, with the warmest and wettest part of the state is along the Sierra Madre Occidental.

Get in[edit]

There is an international airport in the capital, which has national and international service with national flights to Tijuana and international flights to Chicago-Midway. and Los Angeles.

The main routes that cross the state are: Federal Highway 23 Fresnillo - Chapala; Federal Highway 25 Aguascalientes - Loreto; Federal Highway 44 Fresnillo - Valparaíso; and Federal Highway 54 Saltillo - Zacatecas.

Get around[edit]


The state of Zacatecas has six Magic Towns: Jerez de García Salinas, Teúl de González Ortega, Sombrerete, Pinos, Nochistlán de Mejía, and Guadalupe.

Archeological sites[edit]

Altavista is 229 km northwest of the city of Zacatecas. It was a ceremonial center, part of the Chalchihuite culture, active between 200 and 1000 CE. It Its main building is called the Labyrinth.

La Quemada is 50 km south of the city of Zacatecas, the state's largest pre Hispanic settlement. It developed between 500 and 900 CE and covered an area of over 70,000 m² at its height. Its name, which means "the burnt", comes from evidence that the city was burned and abandoned. Who occupied the city is not known, with speculation relating to Teotihuacan, the Purépecha and the Toltecs.

El Teúl is on a large hill overlooking the modern town of Teúl de González Ortega (municipality). The name comes from Nahuatl and means "of the gods". It was a ceremonial center, with residences located north of it. The site is noted for its pit burials as well as the oldest copper smelting facility in Mesoamerica. It was inhabited from 200 CE to 1531, when the Spanish destroyed it. It is one of several religious and population centers created by the Caxcans, who were semi nomadic, along with others in Tlaltenango, Juchipila and Teocaltiche.


Sierra de Órganos National Park has several steep elevations and capricious rock formations originated by various climatic and geological factors, with a shape similar to that of cacti or that of the pipes of those musical instruments from which it takes its name. It is a refuge for some endemic animal species in the region and others in danger of extinction. It is a popular place for the practice of extreme sports such as cycling, hiking and also for the scenic beauty of its landscapes


Most of the state's festivities are in honor of local patron saints and many of the secular festivals have links to religious ones. Such festivals often focus on recitals of traditional dances such as the Mexicapan. Many of these are derived from waltzes and polkas because of the state's mining history.

In the state capital, September 8 is dedicated to the Virgen del Patrocinio on the Cerro de la Bufa, with various cultural and artistic events such as bullfighting, concerts, horse racing and culinary demonstrations. The last week of August is dedicated to the Morismas de Bracho, a theatrical production of the struggle between Moors and Christians.

It hosts the International Folklore Festival in August, featuring dance and costumes from around the world. It is held during Holy Week, and features music, food, street performances, dancing and parties.

Other major festivals include the Festival Cultural Zacatecas, the Feria Nacional de Zacatecas and the Internacional Festival de Teatro de Calle, Feria de Primavera de Jerez, the Feria del Libro, and the Cabalgata Turistica Revolucionaria.


Traditional favorite foods include gorditas and panecillos, both made from corn and can be sweet or savory, depending on the filling. Wheat breads include panochas and semitas. Condoches are gorditas made with fresh corn cooked in corn husks. Gorditas de cuajada are representative of food on ranches. Meat is most typically prepared as part of a stew to which vegetables such as corn, chickpeas, squash, rice and more are added. One well-known meat preparation is asado de boda, which is pork in a sauce made with mild red chili peppers.

Traditional beverages include pulque, aguamiel, aguardiente and mezcal as well as a purely local beverage called colonche, made by fermenting a cactus fruit.


Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

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