Veracruz, Mexico's historic and fundamental city

Veracruz today has almost one million inhabitants, which includes its metropolitan area. It is no longer the capital of the state of Veracruz, but it is the most important city in the state.

Veracruz, Mexico's historic and fundamental city
The Palace of Veracruz at the end of the 19th century.

Veracruz today has almost one million inhabitants, which includes its metropolitan area. It is no longer the capital of the state of Veracruz, but it is the most important city in the state. Its income mainly comes from commerce, since it is a commercial port, followed by tourism, which is also very important since the Carnival of Veracruz is held in this city and is considered the most important in Mexico. Other common activities are the automotive industry, the iron and steel industry, and fishing. Tourist and cultural attractions are abundant due to the proximity of archaeological sites of Mesoamerican cultures.

Since its foundation in 1519 by Hernán Cortés, Francisco de Montejo, and Alonso Hernández de Portocarrero, the city became the gateway to Mexico and continental America, although there was the precedent of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, a few years earlier.

History of Veracruz

Hernán Cortes, coming from Cuba, enters through Veracruz to conquer the Mexica empire. In 1535 Antonio de Mendoza, the first viceroy of New Spain arrives. During the three centuries of the viceroyalty, the city of Veracruz was the scene of several events, among them: the attacks of the pirates that infested the seas in 1568. During the viceroyalty, the city was of great importance since it was the departure point for ships going to Spain loaded with gold, treasures, and merchandise in the so-called Carrera de Indias, which caused it to be attacked on several occasions by pirates. To repel the attacks, the city was walled and a series of forts and bastions were built, with the Fort of San Juan de Ulúa, built-in 1590, standing out.

Veracruz was already the port of reference that communicated North America with Europe and it was also the exit of the last stage for the merchandise that came from Asia through the Pacific, which was disembarked in Acapulco and crossed Mexico by land to Veracruz from where they left for Spain. This was from 1565, when thanks to Andres de Urdaneta it was discovered the way to return from the Philippines crossing the Pacific from the north, taking advantage of the Kuro Sivo current.

Since 1607 the Port of Veracruz acquired the title of the city, confirmed in 1640 by King Felipe IV, being one of the oldest cities in Mexico. At the beginning of the XVII century, several buildings appeared, 1608 the town hall (today the municipal palace) and the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced were built, at the same time the fortification of San Juan de Ulúa continued and the work of the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de Loreto began. In 1640 the Barlovento Navy was founded to defend the coast from pirates.

Veracruz tramway in the sixties of the twentieth century.
Veracruz tramway in the sixties of the twentieth century.

The history of Veracruz has been at least agitated: it has been invaded by American troops on two occasions, it was the provisional capital of Mexico, Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlota of Belgium arrived through this port and Maximilian's corpse left here three years later.

In 1862, Spanish troops under the command of General Juan Prim withdrew from the port of Veracruz, which they had occupied due to the suspension of payment of the foreign debt, decreed by Benito Juarez.

The next Spanish protagonism of Veracruz was the dramatic but hopeful arrival of thousands of Spaniards exiled after the civil war with the commitment of the Mexican government headed by General Lázaro Cárdenas to welcome them. The names of the ships that deposited them in Veracruz are now part of history: Sinaia, Ipanema, Mexique, and Flandreau. The Mexican city once again became a port of arrival for Spaniards, who also, as in the 16th century, were integrating and collaborating in the revitalization of Mexico, not in vain did the best of Spanish culture and science of the time enter the history of Mexico through the port of Veracruz.