An Independent Mexico

17 Feb

035If you are like me the Mexican Revolution was Pancho Villa and Emilio Zapata fighting for freedom with bandoleros strapped across their chests. But Mexico’s War of Independence actually started 100 years before. Guanajuato played an important role in that war.

Alhondiga de Granaditas

Alhondiga de Granaditas

Father Hildalgo gave his famous speech for freedom at the Church of Dolores in 1810. At the same time there was a large granary in Guanajuato known as Alhondiga de Granaditas presided over by rich landowners. The people, mestizos and people of mixed blood known as “criollos,” were starving and the granary was full.

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Insurgents plotted to burn down the eastern door of the offending granary and attack their oppressors. A strong young miner nicknamed “El Pipila” was chosen to lead the fight. Pipila tied a large flat stone to his back to serve as a shield from the bullets and rocks expected in the defense of the granary. He made it through and fired the door. The door burned and the people hiding in the building, most of them wealthy Spanish families, were murdered. At the end of the first battle in the war for the independence of Mexico, hundreds of bodies were buried, and the city of Guanajuato pillaged.

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In time, the four leaders of the insurgents, Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jimenez were beheaded. The four heads were hung from the four corners of the Alhondiga, to discourage other independence movements. The heads remained hanging there for ten years, until Mexico achieved its independence. Today the four leaders are honored at the corners of the building where ominous hooks still protrude.

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Now the Alhondiga is a museum right down the hill from our house. The building itself is a beautiful work of architecture that is largely, untouched. The walls of native rock are thick and inmutable, looking like a rough-hewn castle from the exterior. The interior is more of a colonial style with Doric columns. The interior court is open to the air and serves as a sculpture gallery.

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The most striking aspect of the museum is the murals painted in the stair wells depicting the Mexican War of Independence. The power of the art is intense.

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The colors are dark with brilliant red, orange and white highlights. Sadness and triumph surround as you view the walls.

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The building and the people who fought for Mexican independence are celebrated in the Alhondiga. The eternal flame burning there symbolizes Mexico”s deep honor for its past heroes.

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2 Responses to “An Independent Mexico”

  1. californian February 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    Great stuff! History, art, architecture all rolled in one.

  2. Ursula February 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    Intense art – that’s an understatement! Thanks for sharing.

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