This fortresses complex cannot be missed when visiting Veracruz city... This ,once a prison for most political prisoneers now is a museum, that captures all feelings of what would it like to be captive ... faccinating leyends and facts are told by guides in site, Huge dungeons, secret rooms, and piers surrounds this place that also is going thru renovations as is built back in 1565,great architecture and a very strange vibe will be involving you as soon as your feet touches this magical place...
The weekends in the evening you can go to the "Zocalo" (main square) to listen the "danzoneras" and to see to dancers who have done an art of this dance.
The "danzon" have 3 parts, between each of these parts, you can see the women refresh with an "abanico" (fan).
The last part of the "danzon" is faster and is known like "montuno"
The composers who do "danzones" they do a nice lyric with the music, and this lyric is dedicated to someone, nevertheless the lyric only could have that person who was dedicated, and for the rest of the people the danzón is only a set of instruments.
The intro gives an idea of the importance of EL TAJÍN archeological site. I'll just add a couple of Tips here to describe it more fully and with photos.
EL TAJÍN is enclosed in a tropical forest in a very fertile area, perfect for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. The city was built and thrived between the 9th and 13th centuries of our era. It started organising itself around the PLAZA DEL ARROYO (Creek Square?), where the people lived and where great ceremonies were held. The big size of the Plaza indicates that it was the major gathering place, where the market and popular meetings were also held.
A few Juegos de Pelota were added nearby for fun. Every construction was done at 20 degrees North/East.
Rulers soon totally controlled nearby populations and used them as manpower to expand EL TAJÍN further north of Plaza de Arroyo, changing the orientation to 45 degrees North/East. These degrees are mentioned repeatedly in the literature given at the site, and by the guides, so I guess they mean something (certainly religious.) A great platform known as Building 5 was built, the most important Juegos de Pelota North and South were built, and by the time of its Golden Age, what is now known as El Tajín Chico was completed.
El Tajín Chico is the nobility's residential area, where the rulers built their palaces, and it's on a terrace hill at the far end of the complex, ingeneously adorned with steps. The area was thus set apart from the local population and allowed for a great view on the city and on what was going on there.
Streets in LA ANTIGUA are all cobbledstoned, very sturdy and good-looking. A reminder of the Via Appia Antica in Rome.
In the middle of the pueblo, there's an enclosure for a strange looking tree that looks more like an overgrown branch. I asked my cab driver (who came along while I explored La Antigua) what it was and he told me it was "La Ceiba", or one piece of it. The other two growths from the same tree were transported somewhere else in the State. I didn't know what La Ceiba meant so I didn't really get what he said, or why a tree would be divided in tree and dispersed across a territory. Well, it's a tropical cotton-tree bush and it was tentacular, good enough reason for the villagers to send parts of it elsewhere.
The Hotel-restaurant La Malinche is on the banks of Río Huitzilapan, just before the suspended bridge. La Malinche was a young girl given to Cortés by the Natives on the coast of Tabasco, as he was making his way towards Veracruz. She became his interpret with the Natives and his lover. That nickname today in Mexico means a treacherous turncoat, since La Malinche helped bad guy Cortés. That street is lined with fish restaurants and souvenir shops. Great smells and a regular trinkling of quiet visitors, mostly on a day-trip from Veracruz.
Cardel is a town of some importance in the Central Coast area, 35 kms N of Veracruz City and 7 kms inland from the Gulf. On the coastal road between Cardel and Veracruz, a place called LA ANTIGUA makes for an interesting short stop.
On Holy Friday of 1519, Cortés first threw anchor in front of today's Veracruz, precisely on Isla Sacrificios & on what was then another island, San Juan de Ulua. He followed the coast up north & founded the first Spanish settlement, calling it Villa Rica de la Veracruz. In 1525, the establishment was moved down to LA ANTIGUA Veracruz, near the mouth of Río Huitzilapan. It's only in 1598 that those two first Veracruz were transferred to today's Veracruz. Which is why a plaque in front of Cortés' house in LA ANTIGUA says "Here stood Veracruz from 1533 to 1599."
The gold & silver collected by Cortés & his army were stocked in Villa Rica before heading for Spain on gallions & the seafaring world knew of these treasures. Pirates & filibusters such as Francis Drake & John Hawkins regularly attacked so Villa Rica was heavily fortified & walled. Those remparts were taken down at the end of the 1800s to make space for waves of immigration from Cuba, Syria & Lebanon. LA ANTIGUA seems to have been used more as a living community & a place for Customs procedures. Still, I did see a couple of old canons there.
The Casa de Cortés (16th cent.) is in total ruins and now entwined in huge tree roots. There was a good guide giving a tour in Spanish when I walked around the site.
A cute chapel in the settlement is supposed to be the oldest Catholic church in America. It's called La Ermita del Rosario and was built in 1523. In the atrium made of talavera tiles unique in America, a Christ and two virgins & a Way of the Cross also date back to that year. Very well maintained chapel, surprisingly clean outside grounds, free of any garbage. People from Veracruz often get married here.
This Garden was built in 1975, during the goverment of the Lic.Rafael Hernández Ochoa and is now incharge of the Instituto de Ecología, A.C. The Botanic Garden (Jardín Botánico in spanish) was made to keep the flower silvester from around Xalapa.
The Garden is divided in 3 secctions: the forest, the formal garden and the grow plant area. One if the pricipals funcions is to teach, so in every plant of flower you'll find the name, family, class, etc.
People use to go ther to the pictures for weedings, family and even to record some of the soap operas.
Veracruz has seen it's face in many a movie. The historic first Spanish fortress in Mexico, the Fort of San Juan de Ulua, makes the trip to the humid city of Veracruz worthwhile. Don't forget to walk around the many plazas and enjoy your stay. Check out some more pics and tips on my Veracruz page.
Does this waterfall look familiar? Well you might recognize it from the scenes in 'Romancing the Stones' and 'Clear and Present Danger.' In addition, the Waterfalls at Texolo have been used in countless of other movies, tv shows, and ads. Definitly worth a visit. Don't follow my lead though, take the beaten path down the waterfalls. I actually missed the path and ended up swiming upriver to see the falls...lol!
Check out some more pics and tips on my Xico page.
Xalapa is often recognized as the home of the jalape?o :). Whether that is true or not, I don't know. I had my other reasons to visit this lovely town. It has a large university so it has a large student population. In addition, there are plenty of day trips near town. Check out some more pics and tips on my Jalapa Enriquez page.
The ruins of El Tajin are definitly underated. It is often missed in the itineraries of regular travelers. I was glad I made the effort to see this gorgeous monument. Check out some more pics and tips on my El Tajin page.
Who would have thought that the first bunjee jumpers where from Mexico? I have always been amazed by this old art/ceremony. No, it's not just a stupid bunjee jump, it's an art form. I finally got to see this performed in the place where it got created, at Papantla, Veracruz. Check out some more pics and tips on my Papantla page.
The tradition is to drink coffe in "La Parroquia" the coffe with milk "lechero" but also the food is good there.
I stayed here for a night to be near the airport after visiting a company elsewhere in Mexico. It is...more
Las Quintas, Cordoba, VER, 94500, MX
Blvd Costero 801, Coatzacoalcos, 96538, Mexico
Good for: Families