The Pueblos Mágicos, or Magical Towns of Mexico, are 132 designated towns throughout Mexico recognized for their beauty, history, and cultural importance.
The Pueblo Mágico program began at a national level back in 2001 to promote the special qualitites of culture, history, architecture, and gastronomy in towns of rich heritage with high tourist potential.
The designation is awarded to those communities that over time have maintained their original architecture, traditions, history and culture; and have come to symbolize and enhance the national identity of Mexico. These qualities combined with their exceptional beauty make them Magical Towns connecting visitors with Mexico’s traditions and culture. Jalisco is home to 9 of these Magical Towns.
SAN SEBASTIÁN DEL OESTE
San Sebastián del Oeste is a small town about 60 kilometers from, and to the northeast of, Puerto Vallarta. It received its Pueblo Magico distinction in 2011. The town got its beginnings with the discovery of rich mineral deposits as early as the 1500’s. Gold, silver, and lead were mined into the 1800’s, and the town thrived to a bustling population of over 20,000 people! When the mines closed, despite the infrastructure the wealth of the mines brought, the town collapsed to nearly a ghost town, with a bevy of vacant ranches, haciendas, and churches.
San Sebastián sits at nearly 5,000 feet elevation, and is surrounded by forest lands of pine and oak. The climate is quite comfortable year-round, and fruit trees grow well here, as do coffee trees, and there are several coffee plantations.
Each year on January 20th, the town is colorfully decorated for the patron saint festival of San Sebastian. There you will find live music, dancing, fireworks, cultural activities, and lots of authentic Jaliscan food.
Then in September the annual Paper Baloon Festival is held, where people can bring their homemade paper hot air balloons to enter into a creativity contest and then participate in a mass release into the night sky.
Another annual event is in honor of the Most Holy Virgin of the Rosary of Real Alto, originating in the Real Alto Church just a few miles out of town, which was built in the 1600’s and is revered for its carved wood altar.
San Sebastian’s beauty and charm stems from its town square, which is surrounded by historical buildings and monuments set against a mountainous backdrop. Nearby is the San Sebastián Mártir church built in the late 1700’s, and the Casa Museo Doña Conchita Encarnación, which tells the story of a family of settlers from Spain. To the northwest is the Panteón Antiquo, with untended, overgrown, and dilapidated graves and mausoleums dating back a couple hundred years.
There are many distilleries offering tequila and raicilla tasting, several restaurants serving traditional Mexican cuisine, Quinta Mary organic coffee and sweet shop, and the Factory of Handcrafted Cigars.
Some of the most distinctive architecture can be found in the old haciendas representing a time of prosperity in the once flourishing mining town. Hacienda Jalisco is one such place, and has been converted into a museum with tools and items from the past, photographs, books, and other memorabilia. It is also a gorgeous bed and breakfast inn, and was once a getaway for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as director John Huston.
You can also tour some of the old mines, mostly a few miles away in Cerro de la Bufa, which is in itself a beautiful little quaint town in the mountains known for its spectacular views and sunsets. Other popular activities in the area include hiking, mountain biking, ATV rentals, and horseback riding.
For more information on San Sebastian del Oeste and other Magical Towns of Mexico, visit the website:
To see a beautiful video and for more information on the Magic Towns of Jalisco, you can visit the website: