Viva Mexico, Viva Zacatecas
Celebrating the Mexican Independecy Day at Zacatecas is one of the funniest thing i ever did at Zacatecas. I go to Zacatecas frecuently but September 15,16 and 17 is very different...a lot of people and a big celebration.
TEMPLO DE SANTO DOMINGO
Not quite as magnificent as the Cathedral, the Templo was built by Jesuits in the 1740's. With the expulsion of the Jesuits from the New World in 1767, this church was taken over by Dominican monks. The baroque exterior is more sober than the Cathedral, but inside, there are some elaborately gilded baroque side altars with a magnificent staricase. The church is the second most important in the city.
Next to the Templo, in a former Jesuit college, is the Museo Pedro Coronel. Coronel was an affluent Zacatecan artist who collected art from around the World and produced soem pieces of his own. The museum is one of Mexico's finest provincial art museums.
MUSEO DE LA TOMA DE ZACATECAS
'Toma' means the taking or capture and in this case has to do with the epic 11-day battle in which the forces of Francisco Villa - decisively defeated federal forces - 12000 strong - of General Victoriano Huerta. The battle also brought about an open break between Villa and Venustiano Carranza, the other main warlord in the North fighting against Huerta's forces.
A brief synopsis of the Mexican Revolution to this point. The 34 years of the Porfiriato, the long reign of Porfirio Diaz culminated in the beginning of the Revolution, when Diaz went back on his word to not run for re-election. Francisco Madero began the rebellion, in late 1910, toppling the old dictator from power. Madero was a bit of a dreamer and trusted in people too much, not realizing that, while the Dictator was gone, most of the supporting cast was not. One of the army generals, Victoriano Huerta, arranged for the brutal murder of both Madero and his brother, and the Revolution was on in earnest. Strong forces gathered in the North and swept in the form of the Division del Norte, south from Ciudad Juarez through Chihuahua. Meanwhile, Morelos State erupted in the rebellion that evolved into Zapatismo, named after their leader, Emiliano Zapata. Here, at Zacatecas, Huerta was beaten and the road to Mexcio City was open. It was to be but the intermezzo for the Revolution, however, which would go on and on.
The museum atop the Cerro de la Bufa commemorates the epic battle and the revolutionary Division del Norte - 12-23 June 1914. Felip Angeles wrote at the battle's end, 'And finally, at the serene descent of evening, in the full certainty of victory that comes smiling and tender to caress the forehead of Francisco Villa, brave and glorious soldier of the people.' Villa's victories were like that of a meteor, however. His flame would go out following the battles of the Baijio in the following year. Facing the museum are grand equestrian statues of Villa and his lieutenants, Angeles and Panfilo Natera. Villa raises a rifle over his head defiantly.
ZACATECAS; SILVER AND VILLA
Along with Guanajuato, Zacatecas is one of the most beautiful examples of Mexico's fabled Silver Cities. Both cities feature fine colonial architecture and a dramatic setting from which the silver ore was mined - you can still visit the Eden Mine which is to the left of the Teleferico. Founded in 1548 by the Spanish after a local Indian made the mistake of giving a conquistador a piece of silver, the Spanish basically enslaved the local population, setting them to work creating wealth for the local Spanish, the Spanish on the other end of the caravans - Mexico City, the Crown and the Church. The wealth is best seen in the fine buildings that have survivied and the glorious churches. The mines continue to produce to this day, though turbulent times in the past sometimes disrupted the processes.
With its wealth, Zacatecas has figured a bit in Mexican history. Local rebels were defeated by Benito Juarez in 1871. Then, in June 1914, Francisco Villa lead his Division del Norte to a decisive victory over the federal troops of Victoriano Huerta after an 11-day battle which would lead to Huerta's overthrow.
Most places of interest lie in the valley between Cerro de la Bufa - see more in the tips - and Cerro de la Grilla. Parking can be difficult and remember the altitude - 2445 meters/9078 feet! - when walking around. Walking is the best way to appreciate the architectural richness that is Zacatecas.