Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Statuesque silhouettes against the sky

It’s hard to resist focusing on Guanajuato’s landmark people perched up high. Muses grace the roofline of Teatro Juarez. Father Hidalgo, famed for his grito igniting the revolt against Spain, stands near the city’s presa, or dam.

The giant statue of El Pipila lords over the city. As pipila means a female turkey, the nickname given to Juan Jose de los Reyes Martínez Amaro (1782–1863) probably was not meant as flattery. But El Pipila earned respect as a hero of the Mexican Revolution when he strapped a large stone on his back for protection against weapons above to storm the Spaniards holed up in Alhondiga de Granaditas. He slathered the granary’s large wooden door with tar and set it ablaze, allowing the citizens of Guanajuato to overtake the forces inside.

The woman representing peace who presides over Plaza de la Paz, the city’s main plaza, was commissioned by President Porfirio Diaz in 1903. Her peaceful reign soon was interrupted. President Diaz did not care for his opponent in the 1910 election so he locked him up in jail. When Diaz declared himself victorious, the citizenry sensed the election results were rigged. Diaz was forced from power, and years of civil war marked by frequent violent changes in presidents followed.

Wish the threat of locking opponents up and talking about rigged elections did not sound familiar.

Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Basilica of the City’s Patron Saint

No matter from what direction one approaches, the rich hues of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato make it stand out against the city’s blue skies. Built between 1671 and 1696, the church houses an Andulusian statue of the Virgin and Child encased in glass on its altar.

The statue was a gift from King Felipe II (1527-1598) of Spain presented to the city in 1557 in recognition of all the riches sent from the mines to enrich the crown. The Virgin represents the city’s patron saint and is believed to be the oldest image of the Virgin sent to the Americas. Along the way, her scepter was replaced with a rose, particularly appropriate as the basilica fronts the Plaza de la Paz.

 

Tucked around the images and statues of the saints inside are reminders of the prayers of those who visit. A silver arm or leg left in hope of a mended limb. A heart milagro for assistance for an organ beginning to falter with age or a young heart broken. Photos of babies in need of cures. Ribbons of wishes for the safe return of family members who have crossed the border to seek work in el norte.