We just did a day trip to Guanajuato. Guanajuato is very interesting: state capital, a university town, the birthplace of independence, birthplace of Diego Rivera and lots of interesting stories. We heard these stories while taking a 3 hour walking tour given by a university student; the tour group consisted of just the two of us.. I’ll mention a few stories here followed by a link to more photos.
Silver was discovered in the early 1500’s but Guanajuato itself remained relatively poor, with most people just stopping for the night at the tiny church below (width and height not much more than a one car garage today). As the silver mining grew, the Spanish nobles arrived and built their haciendas.
March for Independence: In 1810, a catholic priest from Dolores by name of Miguel Hidalgo started a march for independence. Three other leaders joined him: Dominguez, Allende and Aldama. The group of 800 farmers became 90,000 by the time they arrived in Guanajuato. The Spanish had heard they were coming and barricaded themselves in the ‘Granary’. The marchers stormed the granary but the marchers were an easy target. One story told is about a particularly strong miner who used a large stone as a shield while he drenched the door of the granary with oil and set it on fire. A monument to the miner is on top of a hill overlooking the city. Today you can take a funicular up to a viewpoint next to the monument.
Unfortunately the 4 leaders of the march were captured, killed and decapitated, and their heads hung in cages at the four corners of the granary. Below is a photo showing one of the corners. You can still see the places where the cages were hung.
The heads were left there for 15 years to discourage further insurrections. Meanwhile the bodies had been buried in hiding and bodies and heads were eventually reunited. After independence, the bodies with the heads were carried around to various towns before being buried in Mexico City – now under the Angel of Independence Monument on Paseo de la Reforma.
Rio Guanajuato: In the old days it was convenient to have your toilet perched outside the edge of your house such that it flushed directly into the Guanajuato river such as shown in the photo below. However, the river was eventually paved over so that toilets had to be moved elsewhere. The Guanajuato river still runs below the paved road.
Flooding and the Tunnels of Guanajuato: there were several severe floods in Guanajuato. A maze of tunnels now bearing both car and pedestrian traffic were created to divert water so as to avoid further flooding. The present old part of town was also built higher and is now about 9 meters above the top of the previous town.
Alley of the Kiss: One interesting story from Spanish times is about the daughter of a Spanish noble who fell in love with a poor miner. The miner rented a place across the alley from the daughter’s bedroom so they could talk and kiss. When the father discovered this he fell into a rage and stabbed his daughter. She is supposed to have given one last kiss before she died. Someone bought the two apartments and now young couples line up to reenact the story (photo below).
For more photos of Guanajuato, click on: GUANAJUATO.