The oldest and loveliest of Guadalajara’s plazas, the Plaza de Armas is a spacious green square right in the heart of the city’s historic center. Visitors will enjoy relaxing on the plaza’s benches, listening to mariachi tunes and checking out the social scene with views of the Guadalajara Cathedral and the Palacio Gobierno in the background.
The Plaza de Armas’ layout is a model of simplicity. Spacious rows of trees line all four sides of the plaza with plenty of wrought-iron benches beside them so there’s always a place to sit in the shade. Ornate lampposts cast a romantic glow at night, and walkways lead from the four corners of the square to the centerpiece of the entire plaza: a large Art Nouveau bandstand.
A Traditional Plaza
The Plaza de Armas is Guadalajara’s “plaza mayor,” or main square. In Spanish colonial cities, main squares were placed at the epicenter of religious and secular power and were typically flanked by three buildings that hold that power: a cathedral, an administrative center and a court. Here, the Guadalajara Cathedral sits on the north side of the plaza, the Jalisco state government is housed in the Palacio Gobierno to its east and the State of Jalisco Courthouse is located a few blocks away.
Like many other Spanish colonial cities in the Americas, Guadalajara’s main square was also built to be its “plaza de armas” or parade square. But where troops used to muster, locals now come together to chat, enjoy the scenery and of course, feed the pigeons.
A Presidential Gift from Paris
Guadalajara’s Plaza de Armas was constructed in the late 19th century and renovated in 1910 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mexico's Independence. The president of Mexico at the time, Porfirio Diaz, gifted the city with the ornate wrought-iron bandstand at the center of the plaza. Built in Paris by the Fonderies D'art Du Val D'Osne, the Art Nouveau structure features a dome supported by eight pillars in the form of female figures that each represent a different musical instrument. When the bandstand arrived in Guadalajara, it seemed to cause a scandal, as conservative residents thought its female figures were too scantily clad and had clothes added to them.
Day and Night
During the day, the plaza is great place to relax between visiting attractions in the historic district and it’s also a peaceful refuge from the bustle of the city. In the evening, the plaza is a magical place as the lampposts illuminate the square and the grand cathedral is lit up in the in the background. Grab a bite at one of the many nearby restaurants or bars or buy a snack from a street vendor and relax, people watch and enjoy a free concert. The state band performs in the plaza on Thursday and Sunday evenings.