Guadalajara is a city of contrasts. The second-largest city in Mexico has undergone significant modernization in the past couple of decades and has attracted numerous multinational businesses, particularly in the high-tech industry, leading to Guadalajara's distinction as Mexico's Silicon Valley.

But Guadalajara remains true to its traditions, and at its heart, Guadalajara is still a conservative, very Mexican city. Its inhabitants, known as tapatios, often refer to Guadalajara as a large town. Guadalajara has the size (and pollution) of a large city but retains the flavor and community of its past.

Mariachi music, tequila, the sombrero and the Mexican hat dance were all born in Guadalajara, and the Mexican city has managed to keep these icons alive without turning them into cliches (or lifeless tourist attractions). Each week a traditional charreada (Mexican-style rodeo) takes place, carrying on the region's hacienda culture.

Visitors will find that Guadalajara is making an effort to preserve the beautiful colonial architecture of its historic center, much of which is arranged around the four main plazas of the original town. These public areas are great for people-watching and absorbing the culture of old Guadalajara. Artisan fairs and live musical performances are often held in or near these plazas.

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