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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Chihuahua

Chihuahua – isn‘t that a small speedy dog? Well yes, but your knowledge of Chihuahua should not stop there.

Chihuahua with 247,087 km² is also the largest State in Mexico. The area of Chihuahua corresponds, for instance, to that of Italy. Located in the north of Mexico, adjacent to the USA, it is homeland to 3.1 million people. Geographically, the state can be divided into three areas with a range of elevation between 220 to 3,300 m. The landscape and climatic contrasts are  enormous.

In the West the Sierra Madre Occidental rises up, formidable and accessible with difficulty, these mountains are as wild as their former inhabitants – the Apache. In this rugged mountainous region only a few settlements are found, although the land holds much wealth; minerals such as lead, zinc, copper, silver, and gold as well as expansive pine and oak forests have been and continue to be so desired that for centuries they have lured adventurers and investors into this region. On the high plateau at the foot hills of the Sierra, in the center of the state, a moderate climate prevails. The region is more highly populated with agriculture an important economic factor. Pecan, apples, chile, alfalfa, cotton, corn and beans are cultivated here. In addition, cattle ranching and dairy farming have always played an important role in the area economy.

The Eastern third of the state is covered by the Chihuahua desert. One of the four major desert areas of North America, its northern border is along the Rio Grande. Summer temperature of over 40°C with a relative humidity of 12% is not rare here. The generally flat and barren land is sparsely vegetated with Creosol, Agaves and Yuccas dominant. Chihuahua in Indian dialect means “dry and sandy place“ – here the old Indian word speaks with truth.

The city of Chihuahua, at 1,440 meters elevation, is in the center of this state of the same name. With 670,000 inhabitants it is an important business and industrial center with an international airport, good hotels and fine restaurants. After silver was discovered in 1679, community leaders saw a need to move and in 1709 founded Chihuahua; a place, where the most well-known personalities of the country stayed.

First being Padre Miguel Hidalgo, “father of the nation“ and initiator of the Mexican fight for independence. Perhaps the most beautiful building in the city is dedicated to him, the Government Palace, on the Plaza Hidalgo, with courtyard walls adorned with murals by Aarón Piña Mora. On June 30, 1811 Padre Hidalgo was executed after a short processing period in Chihuahua, convicted on charges of high treason by the Spanish authorities. On that spot today, in the courtyard of the Government Palace, one finds the altar of the nation with its eternal light.

Also Benito Juarez, President of Mexico in the mid 19th Century, in 1864 he had to withdraw to Chihuahua under pressure from the French troops. Under the emperor Maximilian, French occupation reached the north of Mexico before being repelled. Today Benito Juarez’s accommodation during that time is the museum Casa de Benito Juarez.

 The star of Mexico was probably Francisco “Pancho“ Villa. At first rather obscure, he emerged to become a charismatic leader of the revolution. During 1910 Chihuahua saw the formation of his famous rebel troop division del Norte and with it brought to account the dictator Porfirio Diaz and supporter Victoriano Huerta, long time governor of Chihuahua. Pancho resided in what is today‘s revolution museum Museo de La Revolución (also called Quinta Luz). Relics from his life, original pieces of furniture and the car, in which he was assassinated in 1923, are seen here.

Among the many beautiful buildings of the city one finds the impressive Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas, built in the 18th Century. The facade is in baroque style and in the atrium is the Museum of Holy Art (Museo de Arte Sacra) that houses 38 art works from the 18th Century. The Cathedral’s pipe organ originates from Germany.

Chihuahua, as the starting point or destination for the famous railroad journey through the Copper Canyons, is well worth an extended stay.