Alhóndiga De Granaditas, Guanajuato
The “Alhóndiga de Granaditas”, Guanajuato was the focal point for the first confrontation in the Mexican independence movement and this makes the crumbling structure one of the most important buildings in Guanajuato. Inside the huge complex is the interesting “Museo Regional” (Regional Museum), which details the history of the region.
The Alhondiga Ganaditas in Guanajuato
Alhóndiga De Granaditas, Guanajuato’s Tourist Guide
The Regional Museum of Guanajuato is open Tuesday to Saturday (between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm), Sunday (between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm) and it’s closed on Mondays. The entrance fee is $30.00 pesos. The only disappointment is that none of the exhibits have English translations. The exterior and the famous door (see history section) can be viewed at any time, as they face the main street.
History Of The “Alhóndiga De Granaditas”
The “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” was originally constructed between 1798 and 1809, as a massive grain storage to prevent famine on the failure of the seasonal rains that had virtually ruined the fledgling mining colony. The real historical significance of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” occurred on the 28th September 1810 at the first battle of the war. The Spanish, fearing attack and waiting for reinforcements, formed a defensive position within the solid walls of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” of Guanajuato. It’s the most substantial building of the era in Guanajuato.
A painting of El Pipila’s brave actions
Along with a company of soldiers, the region’s wealth and Spanish refugees from the city of Dolores were barricaded inside. The “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” was a sensible defensive structure, with small windows suitable for muskets and a single entrance behind a solid wooden door that serves today as the main entrance to the museum. The Mexican rebellion rioters managed to storm the complex by an unlikely hero called El Pipila (Turkey Man), whose statue stands today high above Guanajuato. El Pipila was a crippled miner who strapped a stone shield to his back, to protect him from the Spanish muskets, and then rushed the door coating it in tar and setting it alight. The rioters were able to storm the complex and stole the silver hidden within.
The rioters not only killed the Spanish army, but also slaughtered the women and children refugees who were seeking safety within the grain store. This victory gave momentum to the independence movement, but El Pipila died from his wounds during the assault. The Spanish soon got their retribution and once Guanajuato was recaptured, the leaders of the rebellion were executed and their heads hung from the four corners of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas”. Miguel Hidalgo was a priest and main instigator of the rebellion and his head remained on the northwest corner for 10 years, until Mexico finally achieved its independence.
“Alhóndiga De Granaditas’s” Information
If it were not for the historical significance of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” the solid stone structure would have been dismantled, either for the relatively flat building land or for the vast quantities of good stone building materials. During the early independence confrontations, the Spanish were wise to choose this building as their defensive position. It was constructed as more of a fortification than a simple grain storage.
The interior of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas”
For a tourist or visitor of Guanajuato, the structure is not aesthetically pleasing, with bare stonewalls reaching for 4 stories and intersected by small windows. This blandness compounded with the slight decay makes the exterior of the “Alhóndiga de Granaditas” very disappointing. The complex greatly improves inside with two split-levels surrounding a large central courtyard. There are wide balconies supported by Tuscan styled columns rising up to form grand arches. The interior’s stone detail comprises two local coloured stones (light green and red), which are intertwined. The large courtyard was designed so that farmers and merchants could trade corn and other grains, with the larger side rooms as possible stores.
The Spanish briefly used the complex as a prison. The entrance that made El Pipila famous is the main entrance to the Regional Museum of Guanajuato. Nowadays there are stairs to reach the door, but it was on the ground level at the time of El Pipila. The “Alhóndiga de Granaditas”, Guanajuato sits adjacent to a square that is popular with students from the University of Guanajuato who enjoy sitting on the numerous steps chatting and joking.