The first sight of Taxco (tahss-ko) across the steep valley as you approach it from the north is enough to take your breath away. Scattered down a precipitous hillside surrounded by dramatic mountains and cliffs, its perfectly preserved colonial architecture and the twin belfries of its baroque masterpiece, Templo de Santa Prisca, make for one of the most beguiling views anywhere in the central highlands.
Taxco, 160km southwest of Mexico City, has ridden waves of boom and bust associated with the fantastically wealthy silver deposits discovered here in the 16th century and then repeatedly until the early 20th century. With its silver now almost depleted, the town has fallen back on tourism to sustain it. As such, it’s a rare example of preservation-centric development in Mexico. Unlike many colonial-era towns, Taxco has not been engulfed by industrial suburbs, and its status as a national historical monument means that even new buildings must conform to the old in scale, style and materials.
The downside of this embrace of the past is that the town sometimes feels like a museum piece that’s given itself over to visitors, who flood Taxco during the weekend and during festivals. Despite this, Taxco is a striking small city and one of the best weekend trips from the capital.