Mexico: State of Hidalgo (March 2019)

prism-banner-short

(This banner shows a horizontal slice across a cliff of basaltic prisms near the Hacienda of Santa Maria Regla, six kilometers outside the village of Huasca de Ocampo.)

Return to main Mexico (2002...) page

 

The state of Hidalgo is located north of Mexico City in east-central Mexico. During this short trip I only visited the capital, Pachuca, and three small towns/villages near Pachuca: Huasca de Ocampo, Real de Monte, and Mineral de Chico, all located in the mountains north-east of Pachuca. The region around Pachuca and these three villages has been a mining area since the 16th century. It is estimated that 38 million kilograms of silver and 200 tons of gold have been extracted since extraction began. In 1824 British mining companies were called to rebuild the mining industry, which had been ruined by the Mexican War of Independence that ended in 1821. These companies brought a large number of Cornish miners. These miners introduced a ″new″ team sport, the soccer (futbol), to the region, so that today Pachuca is regarded throughout Mexico as the birthplace of soccer in Mexico. It is said that the first game was played by Cornish miners at Pachuca in 1900. The first soccer club in Mexico has been the Pachuca Athletic Club also founded in 1900. The first soccer championship in Mexico happened in 1904 and the winner was El Pachuca. The Cornish miners have also introduced the English pasty, which is now locally called ″paste ingles″. It is similar to the empanada, except that the filling ingredients (potatoes, meat...) and the enclosing dough are cooked together.

 

Despite being relatively close to Mexico City (about 1.5 hours by bus), Pachuca and its surroundings get few non-Mexican visitors. Unlike some other parts of Mexico (Guanajuato, Puebla, Yucatan, Oaxaca, Chiapas...), the region may not have stunning colonial buildings and archeological sites, but their people, landscapes, markets, streets, food, haciendas, and culture epitomize Mexico better than most other areas in the country. However the entire state of Hidalgo is much bigger and some of its other regions contain better known sites, such as the famous Toltec archeological site of Tula in the south-west that I visited in 1971 (see here).

 

Pachuca:

 

Pachuca (pop. 280,000; elev. 2432m), the capital of Hidalgo, is located in the south-central part of the state. Although relatively small by Mexican standards, it is a sprawling city that has recently expanded into the surrounding hills. Fortunately, the old center built during the silver and gold mining period is relatively small and easily walkable.

 

Views over the city from the Cristo Rey mirador located east of the old center:

DSC05895

 

DSC05897

 

DSC05900

 

View over the old part of the city (also from the Cristo Rey mirador). The tall clock tower (Reloj Monumental) is visible near the center of the photo. The elongated Plaza Constitucion, which is bordered on one side (west) by an arcade and on the other side by the Mercado Primero de Mayo (grey roof) is visible at the bottom right of the photo. The red tower on the right (north) of the plaza is the bell tower of the Asuncion de Maria church.

DSC05896

 

The Reloj Monumental, the icon of the city, located on the Plaza Independencia. Inaugurated in 1910, it was donated by a Cornish man to commemorate the centennial of the independence of Mexico. The Cristo Rey mirador is located on the hill in the background of the first photo below, hidden by the clock tower.

DSC05859

 

DSC06187

 

The arcade bordering the Plaza Constitucion. The statue of Miguel Hidalgo (a leader of the Mexican War of Independence, after whom the state is named) is visible on the right of the photo (and on the left of the next photo). The bright pyramidal cone at the center-left is the top of the bell tower of the Methodist church (see below).

DSC05889

 

View toward the north from the Plaza Constitucion: houses sprawling on a steep slope on the left and bell tower of the Asuncion de Maria church on the right.

DSC05888

 

Unusual painting inside the Asuncion de Maria church.

DSC05879

 

Methodist church built in the early 20th century, an important Cornish building in the city.

DSC05876

 

Cajas Reales built in the 17th century and used during the colonial period to store silver and gold bars. Towers served for the surveillance and protection of the building. Unfortunately, the building was closed and seemed almost forgotten by the city.

DSC05868

 

DSC06112

 

Left: Man warming up in the early morning sun on Plaza Constitucion (due to the elevation, nights in Pachuca are quite cool). Right: Group of performing musicians in a street.

DSC05886

DSC06073

 

Mural celebrating the indigenous roots of the state of Hidalgo.

DSC06074

 

The old center of Pachuca is dotted with several busy covered and street markets: Mercado Benito Juarez, Mercado Miguel Hidalgo, Mercado Primero de Mayo, Mercado de Barreteros...

 

- Entrance of the Mercado de Barreteros.

DSC05849

 

- Market scenes.

DSC06120

 

DSC06117

 

DSC06119

 

DSC06118

 

DSC06115-b

DSC06108

 

DSC06115

DSC06109

 

DSC06107 -inverted

DSC05853

[The yellowish ″grains″ at the bottom-left of the above photo on the left are edible ant larvae collected from the roots of agave plants. They are called ″escamoles″ and have been a popular Mexican delicacy at least since the Aztecs.]

 

DSC05883

 

DSC05890

 

 

The Hidalgo Theater Bartolome de Medina inaugurated in 1957, located on the southern edge of the old city center. Bartolome de Medina was born in Spain in the early 16th century. At the age of 50 he moved to present-day Mexico, where he eventually settled in Pachuca. He is recognized as the inventor of the ″patio process″, a process for extracting silver from ore.

DSC05848

 

The San Francisco church and ex-convent is a large complex of several buildings built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today the church is still active and the ex-convent hosts several exhibition halls and a school of arts.

 

- San Francisco church.

DSC06121

 

DSC05826

 

- Another view of the church, with a portion of the ex-convent on the right.

DSC06143

 

- Inner courtyard in the ex-convent.

DSC05837

DSC06172

 

- Jaracanda in bloom next to the ex-convent.

DSC06174

 

- Polychrome wood statue exposed in a room of the ex-convent.

DSC06171

 

- Photo (called ″Los Ninos″) exposed in the Museo de la Fotografia located in the ex-convent. This museum stores many photographic works, but only a few are exposed at any given time. I found this photo (dated 1908) particularly expressive.

DSC06131

 

- At the time of my visit, the ex-convent was also hosting an exposition of sculptures of British-born Mexican artist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011). Although Leonora Carrington might be better known for her paintings, this collection of ″magical creatures″ was particularly stunning. Such an exposition is yet another demonstration of the love affair of many Mexicans with arts.

DSC05835

The Ship of Cranes.

DSC06144

 

DSC06146

Horse Ride.

DSC06145

La Dragoneza.

DSC06156

Mute Singer.

 

DSC06155

The Bandolonista.

DSC06163

The Tamborilera.

DSC06159

The Inventor of the Atole.

 

DSC06147

Night Jaguar.

DSC06148

Cat without Boots.

 

DSC06151

Boat with Monkey.

DSC06157

The Necromancer.

 

Las Palmitas is a poor neighborhood that used to be plagued by petty crime. In 2015 a group of graffiti artists led by a former gang member tried to change that by painting hundreds houses to create a macromural, hoping that it would engender a better community spririt. Viewed from a distance, the macromural form multi-color swirling patterns (inspired by the fact that Pachuca lies in a windy area and is nicknamed the Airy Beauty). But portraits of residents are also painted on the walls of the narrow alleys and stairways of the neighborhood.

DSC06185

 

DSC06182

 

DSC06179

 

Huasca de Ocampo:

 

This large village (pop. 15,200; elev. 2100m) is located some 35 km from Pachuca. The village itself, although quite pretty, is not especially interesting as it caters mostly to weekend visitors from Mexico City. But it is surrounded by remarkable former haciendas. In addition, the Barranca de Alcholoya, a small canyon bordered by cliffs made of basaltic columns, near the Hacienda Santa Maria Regla, is an impressive sight.

 

In the town of Huasca de Ocampo:

- San Juan Bautista church (16th century) and the stone relief carving above the entrance portal.

DSC05908

DSC05903

 

- Inside the church.

DSC05901

 

- Small restaurants serving breakfast in the main street of the village.

DSC05904

 

Hacienda Santa Maria Regla. This amazing former mining hacienda was built in the 18th century by Don Pedro Romero de Terreros, the first Count of Regla to extract and process silver and gold in the area. It has been beautifully restored and is now exploited as a hotel. Fortunately, the hotel occupies only a fraction of the large complex and is not too conspicuous. The scale and beauty of the structures reflect the economic wealth of the former mining activities.

 

- Left: Entrance portal of the hacienda. Right: English furnaces (located near the entrance portal).

DSC05943

DSC06013

 

- View from the entrance portal.

DSC05946

 

- The chapel of the hacienda (Parish of Our Lady of Loreto).

DSC06003

 

DSC05952

DSC05963

 

DSC06006

DSC06007

DSC05951

 

DSC05955

DSC05957

 

- Fountains bringing water from the Barranca de Alcholoya.

DSC05965

 

DSC05976

 

DSC05981

DSC05982

 

- Corridor leading to the ore and tailings storage buildings behind the fountains.

DSC05996

 

- The wall of the same corridor seen from outside.

DSC05995

 

- The ore and tailings storage vaulted facilities.

DSC05985

 

DSC05987

 

DSC05992

 

DSC05991

 

- Behind the storage facilities the aqueduct that brings water from the Barranca de Alcholoya.

DSC05990

 

Basaltic prisms of Santa Maria Regla. They form the walls of the Barranca de Alcholoya (canyon) located above the Hacienda Santa Maria Regla. The prisms (polygonal columns) were created by the slow cooling of volcanic lava. They have 5 or 6 sides and the tallest are between 30 and 50 meters high.

DSC05928

 

DSC05936

 

DSC05934

DSC05938

 

DSC05909

 

DSC05921

 

DSC05920

DSC05933

 

DSC05913

 

DSC05911

DSC05926

 

DSC05912

DSC05931

 

Hacienda Juan Hueyapan. This former hacienda completed in 1550 by Don Pedro de Paz, a cousin of Hernan Cortes, is the oldest in the region and one of the oldest in Mexico. It is a farming hacienda based on agriculture and livestock.

 

- Top of entrance arch.

DSC06039

 

Main courtyard.

DSC06021

 

DSC06038

 

- Chapel opening on the main courtyard.

DSC06023

DSC06024

 

Small inner courtyard.

DSC06033

 

- Farming building.

DSC06017

 

Real (a.k.a. Mineral) del Monte:

 

This small town (pop. 12,000; elev. 2700m) was one of the main mining sites in the area. Some mines have continued production until the present time.

 

View over a portion of the town.

DSC06059

 

Church of Our Lady of the Ascension (16th century), also known as Our Lady of the Rosary, standing on the eastern side of the Plaza Principal.

DSC06056

 

DSC06041

 

The Holy Cross Church (17th century), a couple of blocks south-west of Plaza Principal.

DSC06045

DSC06049

DSC06048

 

 

 

Music kiosk on the Plaza Principal, with the shopping arcade of the Calle Lic. Ruben Lincona Ruiz in the background.

DSC06055

 

In the Avenida Hidalgo, one of the main avenues in the town center (with a mural on the right).

DSC06071

DSC06072

 

One of the many (hundreds?) shops making and selling paste ingles. Every October a three-day festival held in Real de Monte celebrates the paste.

DSC06061

 

In the Mercado Camerino Z. Mendoza, named after a Mexican soldier that participated in the Mexican Revolution, who was born to a miner in Real del Monte in 1879.

DSC06065

 

Mineral del Chico:

 

View of the village nested in the surrounding forest.

DSC06087

 

Las Monjas (The Nuns), a rock formation that overlooks the village,

DSC06082

 

DSC06083

 

Church of the Inmaculada Concepcion.

DSC06077

DSC06102

 

Chapel del Calvario.

DSC06080

DSC06099

 

Left: Entrance of the San Antonio mine, one of the abandoned mines along the Rio del Milagro that flows beneath the village. Right: Waterfall on the Rio del Milagro a short distance upstream from the San Antinio mine.

DSC06095

DSC06090

 

banner-2

Return to main Mexico (2002...) page