It's fine weather for strolling the Centro Histórico, the district that spreads out from the Cathedral on four main plazas and includes scores of pockmarked limestone buildings from the last four centuries. Whether Baroque, neo-Classical or, like the Cathedral, a potpourri of stylistic mementos from 300 years, they have an undeniable Castilian gravitas.
That's not how it strikes a visitor. It's true that a few minutes away from the Centro Histórico, the streets descend abruptly into shabbiness, but it's a lived-in, unthreatening shabbiness. And while many old buildings were sacrificed in the heedless 1960's and 70's, many remain and, perhaps in expiation, those in the center look carefully tended.
The old-fashioned stateliness of the Cruz de Plazas, the cross of squares around the Cathedral, made a carriage ride -- something too touristy to contemplate in other places -- inevitable. From the half-dozen antiques parked in front of the Museo Regional, I chose a burgundy cabriolet and a dark brown horse named Fantasma. For $22, Fantasma's owner, Miguel Igaron, directed her on an hourlong tour. Southwest of the center, along Calle Libertad, we clip-clopped past the city's flirtation with Bauhaus houses. Closer to Guadalajara's historic heart, our deliberate pace allowed for admiration of stucco washes, wrought-iron balconies and urn-topped balustrades.
Beginning Feb. 10, the Ballet Fol clórico de la Universidad de Guadalajara dances in the late-19th-century Teatro Degollado, Calle Belén, to the east of the Cathedral on Plaza de la Liberación, every Sunday at 10 a.m. The pieces range from interpretations of pre-Columbian rituals to local folk dances. The red-and-gilt candy-box interior of the Teatro, Guadalajara's main performance space, is another treat. Tickets, from $3.25 to $18.50, are available at the box office, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. The theater's number is (52-333) 613-1115.
Fridays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m., the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco takes the stage at the Teatro Degollado, with tickets from $3.25 to $13 available at the box office. On March 1 and 3, the program includes Piazzolla's ''Gran Tango'' and Saint-Saens's Third Symphony; on March 15 and 17, it features two Vivaldi concertos for sopranino flute.
From March 8 to 15, a festival of Mexican cinema unrolls at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, on the Plaza Tapatía, and at the Teatro Dego llado. Some films have English sub titles. Information, (33) 3810-1148 or www.guadalajaracinemafest.com.
Music is everywhere on Guadalajara's plazas. Men play marimbas and guitars, grandmothers and young girls sing, children in cowboy boots perform charro (cowboy) dances. On Thursday and Sunday around 6:30 p.m., there are free concerts of local music in the flossy, wrought-iron bandstand in the middle of the Plaza de Armas, on the south side of the Cathedral.
The Instituto Cultural Cabañas would be one of Guadalajara's glories for its history and architecture alone. Designed in 1805 by the neo-Classical architect Manuel Tolsa as a vast orphanage with 23 formal, varied courtyards, it acquired its crowning jewel in the late 1930's, when José Clemente Orozco painted his passionately satirical version of Mexico's history on the walls and ceiling of the main chapel. Guided tours of Orozco's masterpiece are available in English with the $1 admission fee. Closed Monday; (333) 617-4322.¶
The southeastern suburb Tlaquepaque (tlah-kay-PAH-kay) has restored its delightful stucco and stone houses and made itself a shopper's paradise for Mexican crafts. Avoid the chic, not very interesting shops on Independencia, but visit the free Museo Regional de la Cerámica, 237 Independencia, (52-333) 635-5404, www.tlaquepaque.gob.mx, for a quick grounding in Mexico's various pottery styles. Closed Monday.