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The most northern of Mexico's silver cities, fascinating Zacatecas – a Unesco World Heritage site – runs along a narrow valley overlooked by a steep and imposing hillside. The large historic center is jam-packed with opulent colonial buildings, a stupendous cathedral, magnificent museums and steep, winding streets and alleys that simply ooze charm.

Zacatecas was where thousands of indigenous slaves were forced by the Spanish to toil in the mines under terrible conditions. Pancho Villa enjoyed a historic victory in 1914, and he is still feted by locals today. Today travelers can have their own lofty experiences in a teleférico (cable car) to the Cerro de la Bufa, the impressive rock outcrop that soars above the town and affords great views of the church domes and tiled rooftops below. Alternatively, visitors can drop below the surface to tour the infamous Edén mine, a sobering reminder of the city's brutal colonial past.

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