Tlacotalpan (World Heritage)

Spanish architecture with Caribbean influences is combined in many of the monuments of Tlacotalpan. Outstanding buildings from the city founded in the middle of the 16th century on the Gulf of Mexico include the Palacio Municipal and the Iglesia de la Candelaria. In the main square, the Zócalo, there is a Moorish-style kiosk.

Tlacotalpan: facts

Official title: Monument area of ​​Tlacotalpan
Cultural monument: “City of the divided earth” from the 16th century and river port at the time of the Spanish colonial empire with the Palacio Municipal and the Iglesia de la Candelaria as well as the Park Zaragoza, in which there is a kiosk in the Moorish style
Continent: America
Country: Mexico, Veracruz
Location: Tlacotalpán on the Río Papaloapán, south of Veracruz
Appointment: 1998
Meaning: Fusion of Spanish colonial architecture with the architecture of the Caribbean

Tlacotalpan: history

1849 Construction of the town hall (Palacio Municipal)
1865 Trade boom due to economic ties with Havana, Caracas, Marseille and North American port cities
2010 Damage to the historical monuments from heavy rains and floods

Tropical casualness paired with Spanish nobility

»Aquí empieza nuestra historia« – »This is where our story begins«, claims a tourist brochure from Veracruz and omits the complex history of the Maya, Aztecs and the other tribes of Mexico. In 1519 the Spanish adventurer Hernán Cortés landed on the Mexican coast near Veracruz. Here he founded a first settlement called Villa Rica de Vera Cruz (“Rich City of the True Cross”). The following course of history is largely known: This tiny army conquered the mighty Aztec empire, Cortés and his men fell into unspeakable gold treasures.

Only a few years after the Spaniards first came to Veracruz, some colonists settled permanently about a hundred kilometers to the east in the small town of Tlacotalpán. Strategically, it wasn’t a bad choice, as this location is on the banks of the navigable Río Papaloapán: far enough inland to be protected from pirate attacks, yet with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, albeit in the shadow of the great port of Veracruz. According to militarynous, it established itself as the most important port of the Spanish colonial empire in Mexico, and here the stolen gold of the Aztecs was brought overland, then loaded onto ships, which were finally sent in convoys to Spain, richly laden. And that is exactly what always attracted pirates.

In Tlacotalpán, on the other hand, things remained calm. The “tropical-sultry” nonchalance entered into an unusual symbiosis with the elegant rigidity of the Spaniards. Remarkable colonial architecture has also been preserved from those early days. The red roof tiles of the houses can be seen from afar through the green of the tall palm trees. If you then take a closer look, you will notice many beautiful details on the houses. Ornate ornaments contrast with massive wooden doors, on which an iron door knocker with a lion’s head replaces the bell. Arcade arches provide shade; an ice cream seller is dozing waiting for customers. Houses, furnished with cheerful Caribbean colors, were built with a narrow, thus cooling inner courtyard, just like at home. Hardly a ray of sun got lost there, just like you are used to from hot Spain. According to Spanish tradition, the builders installed wrought-iron bars in front of the windows on the front gable front. The daughters and wives were thus immune to all external temptations.

Most of the houses still consist of only one or two floors, but each one tries to give itself a special color touch. You can find everything from purple to lime green to bright yellow: a mixture of colors and styles – strict Spanish on the inside, cheerful Caribbean on the outside.

The palette of color compositions and styles becomes visible on a stroll through the center of the village – especially through the streets Josefa Murillo and Bernardino Aguirre. And with a little imagination, the visitor lets a Spanish caballero ride around the corner while a señorita strolls by with her governess wearing an umbrella and shyly drops her eyes.

The colonial breath can be felt everywhere: in the Museo Salvador Ferrando as well as in the Plaza Principal, where two churches, surrounded by tropical palm trees, wait for the faithful. The Caribbean-Spanish mixture has given the city a certain lightness, which is particularly lived out during the town’s largest fiesta, the Fiesta de la Candelaria. Day and night is celebrated happily; At the end of the festive days, the statue of the Blessed Virgin is carried to the bank, and then the solemn procession continues on the river: Divine protection from floods is to be sought for another year. Here, Spanish tradition mixes with very pragmatic everyday desires.

Tlacotalpan (World Heritage)