Sunday, March 19, 2006
When I first visited Mazatlan over fifteen years ago, the city's historical centre was a romantic ruin full of neglected 19th-century European architecture. Tourists were few and far between in Old Mazatlan. These days, however, Mazatlán Viejo is a going concern. Tourists stroll through the area's narrow streets admiring handsome refurbished buildings and visiting museums and art galleries. After sunset, they linger well into the night in lively restaurants surrounding compact Plazuela Machado.
Old Mazatlan'e rebirth began in the early 1990's with the restoration of the neoclassical Angela Peralta Theatre, which is now the city's main cultural venue. Later, in 2001, the Mexican government gave 479 buildings in 180 downtown blocks new status as protected historical monuments. This was followed by the formation of the independent Historical Center Project in 2002, whose mission was to protect and develop Old Mazatlan.
Numerous grass-roots preservation and beautification projects during recent years have brought Mazatlan's architecturally unique core back to life. They have also reconnected this thriving port city with its post-colonial roots and reaffirmed that it is much more than just another beach resort.