|I didn't come to Veracruz only to enjoy the sea. I've come here because it's located between two very different UNESCO sites I wanted to visit. The first I visited was an historic city on a river south of Veracruz. I reached Tlacotalpan by regional bus in about 2 hours. What's special about this city is not the fact it was laid out according to the Spanish grid... it's not the fact it was still almost intact in terms of architecture and size compared to its plans dating back more than 450 years, it's not the fact that it represents a blend of Spanish and Caribbean cultures or the fact it's a river port (rare thing in Central America). What's stand it apart from the rest is it's the styles of the buildings, nothing like any other Spanish city I've seen so far in Mexico.|
The fact the city faced massive fires
that nearly destroyed it in 1698, 1788 and 1790, plus a few major
floods episodes forced the Spaniards to adapt the city layout. They
widened the streets and forced people to use tile roofs to prevent
fire to go from street to street. That contributed to give the city
its unusual look, although very close to the original layout plans.
I did not find the reason why the columns were used.... but it could
be because of the tile roofs, which are pretty heavy and require
Settled around 1550, the area was
initially used to grow livestock and used as a fishing port. It
remained that way for almost 300 years. Over time, the city took
advantage of it's geographic position to become an exportation centre
of the products and produces from the inland regions of Puebla and
Oaxaca. The transport was done along the Mexican coast, but also to
the Caribbean and to Europe.
It was always a small settlement. Even
today, it doesn't have 10 000 of population, and you can easily walk
all the streets of the town. Nonetheless, it was always considered
an important cultural and religious centre of Mexico. Cultural
because the city had many sons having brilliant careers in
literature, painting and music.
View behind the columns, showing the roof structure
Even today, the city is an important
religious centre in late January to early February, during the
celebrations of the Virgin of Candaleria, who is officially
celebrated on February 2nd. Thousands of people flock to
the small town for the 10-day celebrations, during which a
representation of the Virgin arrives by boat on the river.
The UNESCO recognized the extraordinary
preservation of the site by placing it on the World Heritage List in
A view if the variety of the columns used throughout the city