All About San Luis Potosi – Mexico

CAthedral of San Luis Potosi - MexicoAll About San Luis Potosi – Mexico

San Luis Potosi is yet another small city in central Mexico that has a beautiful historic center full of gorgeous architecture, small plazas and interesting museums.

Probably the town’s biggest claim to fame – among Mexicans at least – is its annual Good Friday Silent Procession, held after dark on the Friday night proceeding Easter Sunday.

I’ve been told by several Mexicans that it’s the only such procession in all of Mexico. The only other Silent Good Friday Processions in the world, apparently, are in Spain.

Purely by chance, I happened to arrive in town the very day of the big parade. Ironically, I had actually decided to visit San Luis at that time in order to avoid the biggest Semana Santa vacation crowds around Mexico.

setting up streets for Silent Procession in San Luis Potosi

setting up streets for Silent Procession in San Luis Potosi

The 2-week holiday is Mexico’s biggest vacation time in the entire year. Everyone heads off to famous Mexican destinations with family and kids in tow. My tactic was to head to small, less famous towns, hoping everyone else would go to the big beach destinations like Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta and major cities like Guadalajara.

Overall, my tactic worked. But I did inadvertently end up in San Luis on its very biggest day of the year. Luckily, that still proved to be a manageable – and calm – crowd.

I wasn’t especially excited about seeing a religious parade, but figured I may as well go watch it since I was there and everyone thought it was such a big deal.

Silent Procession on Good Friday - San Luis PotosiAs it turned out, much to my surprise, the Silent Procession was extremely interesting and dramatic! With eerie live funereal-type music accompanying the long parade, dozens of troupes of men costumed-out with tall pointing hoods like the KKK, and huge religious floats carried by cringing, over-loaded male carriers, the procession was incredibly emotional, powerful and dramatic.

I used the opportunity to practice my night-time fast-shutter photography skills. I grabbed a few good shots in the hour+ that I watched the parade. But I went home before the never-ending procession finished. It was freezing! Yes, central Mexico gets cold at night!

I was glad I got the chance to see a Good Friday Silent Procession once in my life.

So the town’s biggest event happened the very day I arrived. But the procession was far from the end of Semana Santa festivities in San Luis! That weekend and the following week the town put on a series of music, theater and cultural events every night at the various plazas, theaters and other venues around town.

traditional Mexican music during Semana Santa week in San Luis PotosiI watched Flamenco Dancing with live accompaniment at a small museum. I saw lively traditional Mexican village dances in a big plaza. I watched live music from groups all over Mexico at various event spaces on several nights. And I attended the opening of a big art exhibition.

Even better, on my first evening out to see Flamenco, I made a new Mexican pal. Gaston came over after the performance to comment on my piercings and shoes. We hit it off, quickly engaged in a political discussion, discovered we have pretty much the same world views and that was that. Fast friends.

He was attending the Flamenco show with his mom and sister. He invited me to join them for dinner. So off we all went to eat at what turned out to be their favorite restaurant in town.

Lash & GastonThe rest of the week, we all met up most evenings for one performance or the other. And philosophical Gaston and I had several more in-depth intellectual discussions, in between joking around.

Besides the evening performances, I also visited several interesting museums, the most amazing of which is a museum /art school cleverly set up in a former prison. Wow, did the architects make fantastic use of the prison’s buildings, open spaces and halls!

masks at Museum of Masks - SLPTwo other great museums include the Museum of Masks and Museum Frederico Selva, which is full of the San Luis Potosi artist’s amazing large sculptures and great temporary exhibitions of other modern artists’ works.

I was even lucky enough to have a free bicycle to ride every day, thanks to my hostel. Most mornings I explored the city by bike and got to see a lot of spots I otherwise would have missed…like that great museum in a prison that I discovered on my very first ride.

Best of all, though, was huge Tangamanga Park not too far away. I went there a few times to pedal out my excess energy. Ah, so great to exercise!

Needless to say, I had a great time in San Luis Potosi. But I would have, even had I not met Gaston or had a bike to ride, since the town is filled with great architecture and museums. They just made my visit even better.

San Luis Potosi is a great little town. The town’s historic heart is pretty extensive for such a small city. The plazas are set at unusual intervals from each other and each has its own character and charms. Several churches are quite attractive as are the many grand Neo-Classic stone buildings, constructed mostly of brown and beige limestone.

I certainly recommend visiting San Luis Potosi to anyone who’s into architecture, art, museums and pretty towns.

You might also enjoy reading about these great Mexican towns:

All About Zacatecas

All About Guanajuato

All About San Miguel de Allende


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