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Guanajuato Tunnels

Guanajuato tunnels are a series of wide, long underground channels that help divert traffic away from the city center. These tunnels were primarily built as a diversion of the Guanajuato River to prevent flooding of the former mining town.

These underground tunnels are a unique feature of Guanajuato City. Tunnels have decorative entrances and charming open stretches, but longer sections are unpleasant to walk due to road noise and smoke.

The Padre Belausaran street now runs underground for 3 km and follows the original course of the Guanajuato River. This is the most important road in the city, which used to divide the city into two parts.

There are several other streets in Guanajuato that are partially or completely underground, following the old drainage ditches and tunnels dug in the city during colonial times. Originally they were used for flood control.

Modern dams now effectively control the flooding in Guanajuato, keeping the areas that were prone to flooding dry. Dams regulate water levels, preventing the need for drainage ditches and tunnels to control floods.

As a result, old drainage ditches and tunnels turned into small urban highways.

The Guanajuato version of the La Llorona legend

La Llorona (“The Weeping Woman”) is a well-known legend in Mexican folklore.

In the Guanajuato version of the story, a woman is said to wander through these underground tunnels. Underground rivers and streams running in some of these tunnels give this famous story a unique local flavor.

The legend of La Llorona usually tells of a woman who wanders the streets or other places, mourning the loss of her children. The specifics of the story may vary among different regions and communities in Mexico.

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History of the Guanajuato Tunnels

The longest of these underground tunnels, the “La Galereña Tunnel”, was originally excavated in the early 19th century to redirect the Guanajuato River away from the center of the city.

Diversion of water was required during the rainy season, around August, as the river usually overflowed and caused significant flooding. The river diversion has prevented flooding in Guanajuato since construction.

The tunnel was blown up with dynamite. The first trip took place in 1961.

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The tunnels play a crucial role in the city’s road network

A second tunnel was dug during the 1960s, which diverted the Guanajuato River much deeper and used improved materials and techniques, as the original tunnel showed signs of collapse and subsidence.

This, along with the dam upstream, resulted in a significantly smaller and more controlled water flow today.

The old river tunnels were strengthened, reinforced, and converted into road tunnels. The tunnels allow suitable-sized cars, mid-sized buses, and vans through, but prevent larger vehicles from entering the city.

Additional tunnels were excavated in the late 1960s and 1990s.

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Tourist Information about the Guanajuato Tunnels

The tunnels of Guanajuato have different levels of intersections and underground passages. Few other cities can boast such a sophisticated method of simultaneously concealing and restricting traffic.

Tunnels in Guanajuato are primarily utilized for vehicles heading in an eastward direction. This means that if you’re driving or commuting towards the east, you would likely use these underground tunnels.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling in a westward direction, your road route would take you through the city center. This could involve navigating through the streets and roads above ground.

The result of this traffic flow arrangement is that there are essentially two levels of roads—one underground for eastward traffic through tunnels and one above ground for westward traffic through the city center.

Understanding this road layout system can be challenging. This confusion is compounded by the fact that many bus stops are located in tunnels, adding an extra layer of difficulty for those who are unfamiliar with the city.

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