Silver, caves and underground rivers

By Sheridan Sansegundo

Taxco is an intensely romantic town of narrow cobbled streets and white, red-tiled houses cascading down steep hills. Set in a rugged mountainous terrain of spectacular scenery, the area is famous for its silver mines and silversmithing.

Eco-tour to Taxco
Audubon Eco-Journeys
August 14-19
US$790/US$815 or 415 152 3644

At the center of the town is the Parish of Santa Prisca y San Sebastián, one of the outstanding baroque churches of Mexico. Most of the streets are paved with dark stones decorated with lines and pictures made of white stones. Some of the figures are from the Zodiac and indicate certain commercial activities in times past — such as Taurus to indicate the area of butcher shops. It has been nominated as a Pueblo Magico of Mexico.

Originally settled by the Tlahuicas, a tributary society of the Aztecs, it immediately came to the attention of Hernan Cortés and by the end of the 16th century had become Spain’s primary source of silver. After the discovery by José de la Borda of a rich new silver vein in the 18th century, the prosperous Spanish mine owners built more than a dozen beautiful churches in the town. During the War of Independence, however, it was their descendants who destroyed their mines rather than lose them to the revolutionaries, and the art of silver work died out in Taxco for quite some time.

It was reinvigorated by an American, William Spratling, who moved to Taxco in the 1920s, creating silver design workshops. The tour will visit his ranch and museum in addition to the Taxco silver market and museum and meetings with master silversmiths.

Also on the agenda are visits to the National Park Grutas de Cacahuamilpa for exploring and bird-watching (there are 138 different species of birds listed). Cacahuamilpa is one of the largest cave systems in the world. It is a “live” cave system, meaning that groundwater still filters into it and that the formations there are still growing. Inside the cavern system are two underground rivers, the Chontalcoatlán and the San Jerónimo.

There will be plenty of time to explore Taxco and on the return journey the tour will stop at Metepec, a town famous for glass, leather and pottery, in particular the ornate and colorful Tree of Life, which represents the tree from which Adam and Eve ate the apple.

The cost of the trip is US$790 double occupancy for Audubon members or a little more for nonmembers. Deadline for signing up and payment is July 19. If you would like to go on this trip, please contact Colleen Besman at or 415 152 3644.

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