National Geographic : 1916 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE sign is modern and highly decorative, built of the local green tuff and sand stone. The superb portico, with its eight bronze figures, is borne on twelve Ionic pillars; the imposing steps, with stately flambeau, the wrought-iron grille work, the spacious foyer, and the richly deco rated interior by Herrara are truly mag nificent. The Alhondiga de Granaditas (prison) is as constantly full as the theater is empty. It is one of the most historic buildings of the Republic, and will always be remembered not as a storehouse of grain, not as a prison, which it now is, but as the place where the first blow was struck for the liberation of Mexico from Spanish rule. Quadrangular in shape, with a central patio, a row of small Moor ish windows near the top, the lower floor Tuscan, the upper Doric, the building has no architectural beauty. At each corner is a large hook, from which, in the days of the struggle for in dependence, were hung four iron cages containing the heads of the great liber ators-the patriot priest, Hidalgo, his military chief, Allende, and his comrades, Aldama and Jimenez. Here they hung for years until removed by a worshiping nation to the Altar of Kings in the cathe dral of the City of Mexico. After the Grito de Dolores and the first ringing of the bell of Independence, Hidalgo and his followers moved on to Guanajuato, stormed the improvised fortress of Al hondiga, and killed all the Spanish troops that had taken refuge there. This was the beginning of the eleven years' war of Independence. GRINNING MUMMIES IN GHASTLY ARRAY On the summit of the Cerro del Tro zada, to the west of the city, is the Pan theon. The four high walls surrounding the cemetery consist of vaults, tier upon tier, in which the remains of the dead are placed pro tern. or in perpetuity, accord ing to the ability of the surviving rela tives to pay the rent. It is not an uncom mon but a gruesome sight to see a burro plodding wearily up the hill with a cas ket, hired for the occasion, strapped on its back. At the gates disposal of the remains is summarily made if the deceased was pov erty stricken, or maybe a niche in the walls is rented for a period of five years, after which time the bones will be placed in a common ossuary. For a small fee the attendant will admit the visitor to the "chamber of horrors." A winding stair leads to the crypt, where ghastly, mum mified remains are placed in a ghostly row, grinning resentment at the curious. El Palacio Legislativo is another civic monument, designed by Louis Long and decorated by Nicolas Gonzales and Clau dio Molina. It is an edifice of three sto ries, the first floor being the Hall of Con gress, containing many oil paintings of national heroes. The water supply of Guanajuato has been carefully planned. It is both ample in quantity and of good quality. The run-off from the mountainous watershed is impounded by a series of dams of ex cellent structural and artistic workman ship. The Esperanza dam, built of na tive stone, is 95 feet high and wholly in keeping with the extravagance of a mu nificent municipality. GUANAJUATO'S MANY CHURCHES If the religious fervor of the people is measured by the number of churches, then surely we are in a pious community. In the city proper are many historic piles, with painfully modern interiors. Perhaps the finest is the Compania, a Jesuit foun dation, built in 1747-1765. Its single tower contains some bells of exception ally fine tones, the largest of which was blessed, in 1852, by Bishop Timon, of Buffalo, then resident in Mexico. The Jesuits founded their first church in Guanajuato in 1557, which later became the Collegio de la Purisima Concepcin. The venerated image of Nuestra Sefora de Guanajuato, the gift of Philip II of Spain, was enshrined here until moved to the parish church of San Francisco, dedi cated to San Juan de Dios and completed in 1696. After the suppression of the Juaninos by the Franciscans, in 1828, the original beauty of this sacred edifice was lost in its renovation, so that today it is a distressing patchwork.