Irapuato is the ‘World Strawberry Capital’ and is justly noted for the delicious fruit; asparagus is also a popular export. In the town centre, around Plaza de los Fundadores and the Jardín Hidalgo, there is a cluster of historic buildings. Dating from 1550, rebuilt in 1617 with the facade completed in 1733, the Templo del Hospital (Av Revolución y Fernando Dávila) is said to have the country’s largest chandelier. Outside, the Cruz Monolítica commemorates the visit of San Sebastián of Aparicio. The facade of the Templo de San Francisco, also known as El Convento (1799), is a mixture of baroque and neoclassical styles. The huge Parroquia (parish church) was rebuilt in the mid-18th century and must be seen to grasp its enormity. The 19th-century Presidencia Municipal incorporates a former 18th-century school, the Colegio de Enseñanza para Niños. The fountain, Fuente de los Delfines, was given to the town by Emperor Maximilian. The Museo de la Ciudad de Irapuato (Allende 276 esq 5 de Febrero, T462-626 0053) is interesting for a cultural and historical overview of the city and region. There’s a tourist office (Escuela Médico Militar 60 (Colonia Jardines), T462-6247174, http://www.irapuato.gob.mx) for information.
Unfortunately, the centre of town has been invaded by unsightly and incongruous modern buildings, but just to the edge is the 16th-century church of San José, with fine examples of American indigenous art, and the Templo of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (1890), with a striking late neoclassical gold-leaf-decorated interior. There is a pleasant park and gardens (formerly a zoo) 15 minutes outside the centre and off of Avenida del Bosque and Carretera a la Piedad in Colonia Morelos.
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