Guanajuato is a city and municipality in central Mexico and the capital of the state of the same name. It is part of the macroregion of Bajío. It is in a narrow valley, which makes its streets narrow and winding. Most are alleys that cars cannot pass through, and some are long sets of stairs up the mountainsides. Many of the city’s thoroughfares are partially or fully underground. The historic center has numerous small plazas and colonial-era mansions, churches and civil constructions built using pink or green sandstone.
The origin and growth of Guanajuato resulted from the discovery of minerals in the mountains surrounding it. The mines were so rich that the city was one of the most influential during the colonial period. One of the mines, La Valenciana, accounted for two-thirds of the world’s silver production at the height of its production.
The city is home to the Mummy Museum, which contains naturally mummified bodies that were found in the municipal cemetery between the mid 19th and 20th centuries. It is also home to the Festival Internacional Cervantino, which invites artists and performers from all over the world as well as Mexico. Guanajuato was the site of the first battle of the Mexican War of Independence between insurgent and royalist troops at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas. The city was named a World Heritage Site in 1988.
|POPULATION :||• Municipality 171,709|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CST (UTC−6)|
• Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
|AREA :||• Municipality 996.74 km2 (384.84 sq mi)|
• Urban 72.54 km2 (28.01 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||2,000 m (6,600 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||21°01′04″N 101°15′24″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||473|
|POSTAL CODE :||36000|
|DIALING CODE :|
Guanajuato is a city in central Mexico and is the Capital city of the state bearing the same name. It is 390 km (about 250 miles) northwest of Mexico City. The name of the city means "Place of Frogs" in the local indigenous language and therefore the frog is the city's official pet.
Guanajuato is a beautiful mountain colonial town. Many tourists and locals consider this city to be the most beautiful in Mexico. It used to be a major silver mining town, and many of the mines are still active. The city is built on very hilly ground, so virtually every point in the city is on a slant. The city has a network of underground tunnels that serve as roads making this place really unique in the world.
Unlike other Mexican cities that have an exact date of foundation, Guanajuato was the result of miner camping sites after silver veins were discovered between 1540 and 1558 and that eventually lead to a larger settlement. In 1558 a big silver vein was discovered in Guanajuato and produced nearly a third of all silver in the world by the next 250 years. The city was granted its city status in 1741 by Spanish King Philip V. Mining brought wealth to this town that spread towards its architecture and lifestyle.
The historic town of Guanajuato and adjacent mines were granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1987 and has been ranked by several travel magazines as one of the top travel destinations in the world.
Tourist Information Office
Guanajuato is located in the center of Mexico, north-west of Mexico City, bordering the states of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Querétaro and Jalisco. It covers an area of 30,589 km² and is ranked 20th out of 31 states. It has an average altitude of 2,015 meters (6,611 ft) above sea level, with its territory divided among three of Mexico's physical regions, the Sierra Madre Oriental, the Mexican Plateau and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The Sierra Madre Oriental in Guanajuato consists of the Sierra Gorda and the Sierra del Azafrán in the northeast. The Mexican Plateau extends through the center of the state. Within, it subdivides into various regions parted by low-lying mountain chains such as the Sierra de la Cuatralba and the Sierra de Cubo. The Trans Mexican Volcanic Belt crosses the state in the south and includes the Bajío area, the Altos de Jalisco and the valleys area in the far south. The state is crossed by several mountain ranges which have mountains between 2,300 and 3,000 meters high. Mountain ranges average 2,305 meters and flat areas lie at around 1,725 meters above mean sea level. The other important mountain ranges include the Sierra Gorda to the north, the Sierra de Guanjuato in the southeast, the Comanja in the northwest and the Codorniz in the east.
In the pre-Hispanic era, the Bajio saw the most human development due to the fertility of the soil and the presence of surface water for agriculture. The oldest group to inhabit the area were the people now known as the Chupícuarios, who dominated the center of the Bajío area and were active between 800 BCE and 300 CE. Their largest city is now the site called Chupícuaro, and their influence was widespread being found in the modern states of Zacatecas, Querétaro, Colima,Nayarit, Hidalgo, State of Mexico, Michoacán and Guerrero. Chupícuaro cities were associated with the Toltec city of Tula and when this city fell, these agricultural cities of Guanajuato also went into decline. This and a prolonged drought cause these cities to be abandoned between the 10th and 11th centuries with only the Guamares left ethnically.
Then Chichimeca and other nomadic groups entered the area. These nomadic indigenous groups are generically referred to as Chichimeca, but in reality they were a variety of ethnicities such as the Guachichiles, Pames and Zacatecos. These groups were warlike, semi nomadic and did not practice significant agriculture, nor did they construct cities. Part of the state was also inhabited by the Otomi but they were mostly displaced or dominated by the Purépecha in the southwest and the Chichimeca in other parts. By the 16th century, most of Mesoamerica was dominated by either the Aztec Empire or Purépecha Empire, but Guanajuato was under the control of neither. It was on the northern border of the Purépecha Empire with southern Guanajuato showing significant cultural influence in the southern valleys, and Aztecs had ventured into the area looking for minerals. However, most of the state was dominated by various Chichimeca tribes as part of what the Spanish would call the "Gran Chichimeca." These Chichimeca were mostly nomadic with some scattered agricultural communities, mostly in the north.
As Guanajuato marks the beginning of the arid north of Mexico, at first relatively few Spanish came to settle as opposed to points south, where rainfall and indigenous labor was in much greater supply. The first Spanish expedition to arrive to the Guanajuato area was led by Cristóbal de Olid in 1522 which arrived to the Yuririhapúndaro and Pénjamo areas. The discovery of silver and gold in the area of the city of Guanajuato spurred Spanish settlement of the area in the 1520s and 1530s. When the Spanish did arrive, native tribes retreated to the most inaccessible areas of the Bajío and mountains ranges in the state, resisting the invaders, attacking settlements and travelers along the routes that connected Spanish settlements and mining camps. Unlike the more settled indigenous peoples, the Spanish were unable to force the natives of this area to work and brought African slaves and indigenous peoples from other areas to work the haciendas and mines. The colonization efforts in the eastern part of the state began in 1542 when Spanish land grants were issued for the Apaseo and Chamácuaro areas. In 1555, San Miguel el Grande was founded to protect roads linking mining camps and cities with Mexico City. The Villa de León was founded in 1576 to counterattacks by the indigenous peoples. But through the first centuries of the colonial period, the city of Guanajuato dominated because of its mines. The official name of the state is Guanajuato, Estado Libre y Soberano (Guanajuato, Free and Sovereign State). "Guanajuato" comes from Purépecha Quanaxhuato, which has been translated as both "place of frogs" and "places of many hills." The coat of arms of the state is that of the city of Guanajuato which was granted by Carlos I of Spain.
In 1590, the Villa de San Luis de la Paz was founded named after the peace (paz) treaty between the Spanish and the Chichimeca. With the Spanish occupying most of the most productive land and its resources, the indigenous of the area became extremely impoverished. This eventually allowed the Spanish to negotiate peace with chiefs in exchange for basic goods such as blankets, clothes and food. This would bring temporary truces. For the long term, evangelization efforts would bring longer term submission. Franciscans and Augustinians worked to gradually modify the worldview of the Chichimecas and others until many moved out of the mountains and into settlements and profess, at least nominally, the Catholic faith. However, the indigenous remained extremely marginalized and poor, losing both language and culture until most eventually intermarried with outsiders to produce mestizos. Through the colonial period, most of the area's wealth came from mining, with much of the agriculture springing up to support the mining communities. The height of mining came in the 18th century, mostly from the mines in the hills around the city of Guanajuato, leading to the construction of a large number of notable civil and religious buildings in the same area. The Bajío area was extremely fertile and became a major agricultural area for New Spain. Both of these activities brought in more Spanish and Criollos to take advantage, as well as mestizos and some African slaves to work the mines and fields, making the area's population grow rapidly and eventually concentrate in urban centers. The area was made an "indentencia" or province in 1786, when New Spain was divided into twelve parts.
Independence and 19th century
Despite the riches the area produced, most lived in oppression and poverty at the end of the 18th century, working on haciendas and in mines while a few, mostly European-born Spaniards, lived in opulence. Not only the indigenous, mestizo and Negro slaves were having problems with the social order. Many Criollos or New World-born Spanish were marginalized by the Spain-born. One of the first rebellions against colonial rule came in 1766, when a group attacked the Caja Real in Guanajauto city to protest high taxes. In 1767, there were protests against the expulsion of the Jesuits by the Spanish Crown. These were put down with extreme force, but they spurred conspiracies, and groups organizing against colonial rule, especially in San Miguel el Grande and León.
Numerous plans were made, but few were carried out or had impact until 1809. In that year, a group consisting of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, Miguel Domínguez and more, began to plan an armed revolt against the colonial government. In 1810, the plot was discovered and Hidalgo decided to put their plans into action in September instead of the planned date in December. On 15 September, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared the Grito de Dolores in the town of Dolores (Hidalgo). Hidalgo, accompanies by Ignacio Allende, left Dolores with about 800 men, half of whom were on horseback. Just through sheer numbers, Hidalgo's army had some early victories, going through the economically important and densely populated province of Guanajuato. One of Hidalgo's first stops was at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. There, Hidalgo affixed an image of the Virgin to a lance to adopt it as his banner. He then inscribed the following slogans to his troops’ flags: "Long live religion! Long live our most Holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live Ferdinand VII! Long live America and death to bad government!" The extent and the intensity of the movement took viceregal authorities by surprise. San Miguel and Celaya were captured with little resistance. On 21 September 1810, Hidalgo was proclaimed general and supreme commander after arriving to Celaya. At this point, Hidalgo's army numbered about 50,000. However, because of the lack of military discipline, the insurgents soon fell into robbing, looting and ransacking the towns they were capturing. On 28 September 1810, Hidalgo arrived to the city of Guanajuato. The town's Spanish and Criollo populations took refuge in the heavily fortified Alhóndiga de Granaditas granary defended by Quartermaster Riaños. The insurgents overwhelmed the defenses in two days and killed an estimated 400 - 600 men, women and children. Fighting associated with the War of Independence would return near the end of the conflict. Military commanders Luis de Cortázar and Anastasio Bustamante joined forces with Agustín de Iturbide and took the city of Guanajuato on 8 July 1821, declaring the entire state independent of Spanish rule. In 1824, Guanajuato was officially proclaimed a state of Mexico by the Constitutional Congress of Mexico.
The years after the end of the War of Independence were extremely unstable, and would continue to be unstable through most of the rest of the 19th century. Dolores and San Miguel adopted the names of Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende in honor of those who began the independence movement and in 1826, the first constitution of the state of Guanajuato was adopted. Like much of the rest of the country, Guanajuato was affected by the prolonged fighting between Liberal and Conservative factions as well as the foreign incursions that dominated the 19th century. Guanajuato's status vacillated between state (when Liberals were in charge) and department (when Conservatives held the upper hand). Under Liberal ideals, educational institutions such as the Colegio de la Santisima Trinidad and the Colegio de la Purisima Concepción were secularized and under control of the State. In 1847, General Gabriel Valencia raised an army of 6,000 men to fight the U.S. invasion of Mexico. In 1848, in opposition to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, General Marian Paredes, General Manuel Doblado and priest Celedonio Dómeco de Jarauta revolted, taking the state capital, but they were defeated and Domeco was executed by firing squad. In 1855, Conservative Manuel Doblado, then the governor of Guanajuato, forced Juan Álvarez out of the presidency after he took power from Antonio López de Santa Anna. In 1858, the government under President Benito Juárez moved from Mexico City to the city of Guanajuato before moving again to Manzanillo and then Veracruz during the Reform War. During this three-year period, the state would vacillate various times between the Liberals and Conservatives. In 1863, it was taken over by the French as they installed Maximilian I as emperor of Mexico. Maximillian did not reign long but the governor he appointed for Guanajuato, Florencio Antillón remained in Guanajuato until 1877.
Mexican Revolution to the present
The situation stabilized over much of the government of Porfirio Díaz at the end of the 19th century and the economy improved, but the Diaz government was oppressive. Diaz installed Francisco Mena as governor of the state, who made a fortune through the concession of railway lines which were being built to modernize the country. Even though slavery was officially abolished during the War of Independence, most laborers in farms and mines were extremely underpaid and in a number of cases not paid at all. Agricultural production reached a peak at the end of the 19th century, earning the state the nickname of the "granary of the Republic." Industrialization took hold in cities such as León, Salvatierra, Celaya and San Francisco del Rincón, making shoes, textiles and hats. One battle of the Mexican Revolution occurred in Celaya in 1915 between the troops of Álvaro Obregón and Francisco Villa. Many from the state fought and died in other parts of Mexico, leaving behind widows and children. After the war, the large landholdings were broken up and land redistributed into ejidos, or commonly held land, which benefitted many rural families.
After the end of the Mexican Revolution, fighting in Mexico continues with the Cristero War. Fighting related to this was most prominent in Pénjamo and León, but occurred in other areas as well. In 1946, an uprising against the government by a group called the Sinarquistas occurred in Leon. However, most of the state was peaceful most of the time, allowing the economy to recover. This was especially true of the agricultural sector, producing wheat, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, strawberries in Irapuato and goats in various parts. Goat milk cajeta candy from Celaya is known in most of Mexico. The first Festival Internacional Cervantino occurred in 1972. In the 1980s, two of the state's cities, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende were declared World Heritage Sites.
Today, the Bajio is one of the major grain producing regions in Mexico. The Guanajuato congress has asked for help against the theft of religious art in the state, which has the third highest incidence of such. One of the major occurrences was the theft of the gold crown of the Black Christ of Salamanca in 2010. The celebration of Mexico's Bicentennial was particularly important to the state as initial events of the War in Independence occurred here. The state set up a Bicentennial Route to encourage visitors to the cities associated with Miguel Hidalgo's first campaigns. The state held a marathon from San Miguel Allende to Dolores Hidalgo for the Bicentennial with Omar Luna winning with a time of 2h23m14s. The state sponsored the Expo Bicentenario 2010 from 17 July to 20 November just outside the capital city. The site was marked by a giant Mexican flag flying alongside older historic flags, including a replica of the standard with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that Miguel Hidalgo carried as the insurgent banner. The Expo was housed in a series of pavilions which demonstrated the Mexican culture, history, traditions and customs. There were also pavilions hosted by various Latin American countries who also celebrated their Bicentennials around the same time.