Aguascalientes (the word means “hot waters”) is a former mining town that is best known today for hosting one of the oldest and most famous festivals in all of Mexico, the San Marcos Fair. Spanning the last two weeks of April and the first week of May, what began in 1828 as an agricultural and livestock show has grown into a 22-day extravaganza attended by about a million people.
The state of Aguascalientes is one of Mexico´s smallest, its population barely exceeds a million inhabitants. But today is home to 11 industrial parks and a markedly young population; the average age is 20. A high literary rate, reduced bureaucracy and job stability, among other factors, have allowed the economy to grow above the national average during the past few years.
A good way to begin a visit to the city is to take a stroll through lovely San Marcos Park. Don´t miss the beautifully proportioned Government Palace, with its “tezontle” (red volcanic rock) front view, striking central courtyard and murals depicting state history and scenes of the San Marcos Fair, which is the biggest in the country. This fair has been celebrated every year since it first took place in 1828, during the harvest season. Bullfights, cockfights and Mexican rodeos (“charreadas”) are all part of the festivities, as well as concerts, art exhibits and award ceremonies, such as the National Poetry Prize.
You can also visit the Railroad Museum, which opened its doors back in 1883, when the first train rolled into its then unremarkable station, which was redesigned in 1911 by Italian engineer G.M. Buzzo into a wonderful building with sloping tile roofs, balconies and a clock that to this day, it still works. The death of the Mexican National Railroad in the 90s seemed to signal the end of the station, but an enormous rescue effort in 2002 succeeded in converting the building into the Aguascalientes Railroad Museum.