Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort on the Pacific Ocean with approximately 256,000 inhabitants. Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination because it has tropical beaches, a temperate climate and a rich cultural environment. Tourists come by airplane and in cruise ships that navigate along the Pacific Ocean coast.
Puerto Vallarta has a seaside promenade for pedestrians with many beautiful sculptures in bronze and stone. "The Boy on a Seahorse" by Rafael Zamarripa which stands by the seafront has become a symbol of Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta is a modern city with many attractions. The city is in a site that was occupied by Mexican Indian tribes since about 580 B.C. Under Spanish rule, Puerto Vallarta served as a harbor for Spanish galleons and occasional pirate ships and smugglers.
The modern Puerto Vallarta was founded in 1851. In the 1950s, after the celebration of the city's 100th anniversary, many Americans started to settle in a hillside neighborhood east of the center of the city. The neighborhood was nicknamed "Gringo Gulch" by the local people. The Malecon is a seaside sidewalk lined with shops and restaurants that provides a great view of the ocean and artistic venues.
The sculptures in Puerto Vallarta have a playful spirit that makes people laugh. The bizarre and curious style of the sculptures sets the tone for the jovial spirit of the city's visitors and inhabitants.
The terrain in Puerto Vallarta is mountainous. Most houses are built on the hillsides.
Movie director John Houston bought a house in Puerto Vallarta which was later occupied by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Richard and Elizabeth had fallen in love while filming "Cleopatra" in Rome. They traveled to Puerto Vallarta in 1963 where Burton was starring in "The Night of the Iguana", directed by John Houston.
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor owned houses across from each other on Zaragoza street. They built a bridge between the two houses.
The love affair between Burton and Taylor brought a lot of publicity to Puerto Vallarta. The tropical environment and beautiful images in the movie "The Night of the Iguana" established Puerto Vallarta as an exotic tropical paradise destination for adventurous tourists. The city benefited a lot from the Hollywood connection.
Puerto Vallarta pays homage to John Houston with a statue in a park on Cuale island.
In spite of being a popular tourist destination, Puerto Vallarta retains many of the characteristics of a small Mexican city. The markets fill up with skulls and skeletons in preparation for the Day of the Dead on the first day of November.
Markets also carry the typical ceramic figurines or carvings made from wood or stone.
The river Cuale flows around an island that has one half of the market. The other half of the market is across the river. Shoppers must cross a shaky suspension bridge that spans the fast-flowing river.
Puerto Vallarta is situated close to some of the largest known deposits of fire opals. The fire opals compare in quality to those of Australia.
Picturesque murals adorn the walls of some houses and commercial establishments. The themes of the murals vary from pre-Colombian art to modern psychedelic illustrations.