The Magical Aura of San Sebastian del Oeste in Jalisco

Visitors who are interested in learning more about San Sebastian del Oeste's 400-year-old history, are drawn to the town by the mystical aura that surrounds it.

The Magical Aura of San Sebastian del Oeste in Jalisco
Places to visit in San Sebastian del Oeste. Credit: San Sebastian del Oeste

Jalisco town of mining origin, where time seems to have stopped, attracts with its magical aura visitors eager to get in touch with its history that dates back four centuries.

Located in a valley surrounded by the green mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental, San Sebastian del Oeste is a Magical Town in the state of Jalisco where time seems to have stopped. Rich in stories, legends, and friendly people, its architecture is characterized by adobe houses, wood, tile, white facades, red siding, and narrow cobblestone streets, under a blue sky and pleasant mild climate.

It is a mining town that had its heyday in colonial times, when it had up to 20,000 inhabitants, but declined in the nineteenth century due to the closure of the mines. At present, with less than 700 inhabitants, it is the head of the municipality of six thousand inhabitants distributed in a territorial extension of 1,400.13 square kilometers, mainly dedicated to the primary sector.

The Ameca, Los Reyes and Atenguillo rivers run through its territory, as well as the Las Casillas, San Sebastián, and Santiago streams. The municipality has a predominantly humid climate, with dry winters and springs; the average annual temperature is 18.7 °C (64 °F).

The flora consists mainly of pine, holm oak, oak, parota tree, ash, masahuite, and pochote; the fauna includes deer, rabbit, wild boar, coyote, parakeet, opossum, armadillo, quail, squirrel, gopher, parrot, macaw, and hawk.

The main economic activities are agriculture, forestry, fishing, livestock, and services.

The region was populated by the indigenous group te cos, conquered by the Spaniards in 1524, who in 1542 discovered gold and silver, for what it was called da Real de San Sebastián in the colonial time, a period in which it became one of the main mining centers of the New Spain.

However, its official date of foundation dates back to 1605. In the middle of the 19th century, it was already known as San Sebastian, a period from which its architectural façade dates, and in 1983 it acquired its current name.

Attractions of San Sebastian del Oeste

San Sebastián is located in the west of the state of Jalisco, at an altitude of 1,480 meters above sea level. Distant to 60 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta and to 98 kilometers from Mascota, the state highway 70 Mascota-Puerto Vallarta-Las Palmas is an option to arrive by automobile.

From Guadalajara, a distance of 255 kilometers, take the Guadalajara-Tepic highway, then continue on federal highway number 90 towards Puerto Vallarta, which passes through Mascota and follows the detour to San Sebastian, a Magical Town.

Among the attractions are the Templo de San Sebastián, Hacienda Jalisco, Casa Museo (Conchita Encarnación), Los Reyes stream, Casa González Cortázar (from 1750), Colegio del Sagrado Corazón, El Garitón, El Progreso bridge, Hacienda San José (Santa Bárbara); hotels El Pabellón, El Mesón (dating from 1729), Posada del Sol, La Galera (dating from 1800, former Hacienda Esperanza), La Taberna, Finca La Quinta, La Terronera mine, Panteón Antiguo, Portal Morelos, Curvo bridge, La Máquina ruins, and Cerro de La Bufa.

And like any self-respecting town, it has its traditional festivities in honor of San Sebastian (patron saint of the town), the Virgin of the Assumption, the Virgin of the Rosary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the national holidays on September 15 and 16.

Local handicrafts include saddles, saddlery, carved wood, and textiles.

As far as gastronomy is concerned, pozole, birria, enchiladas, tostadas, and tamales stand out; of its sweets, fruit rolls, and fruit boxes; and beverages, atole, coffee, and punch. San Sebastián del Oeste is much appreciated by foreign visitors, especially from the United States, some of whom have made it their second home.

In December 2011 the Secretary of Tourism of the Federal Government included it in the Magical Towns Program for its great variety of attractions linked to the history, culture, crafts, traditions, and gastronomy of the region, becoming the fourth in the state of Jalisco to receive this recognition.

Among the famous people of the town is Gabriel Rivas Quintero, who installed the first electric plant, powered by water; he also brought the cinema and the first nixtamal mill.