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Historic centre of Tlacotalpan
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-01-15 18:32:03 | Tlacotalpan, Veracruz-Llave, Mexico
Keywords: architecture, Historic, UNESCO
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 additional support.

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 1998.


A view if the variety of the columns used throughout the city

Related posts:
Cahokia Mounds
Ouro Preto
Modern Ensemble of Pampulha
Cathedral of León
What I've seen in Mexico

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