The architectonic surroundings of the Plaza are of great interest, standing out for their colonial roots, which can be appreciated on the Municipal Palace, or the Cathedral and its important portals, which house lively restaurants and cafes.
It is located in the City centre, between the Independencia and Zaragoza Avenues, and the Zamora and Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Streets.
It was built by the end of Porfirio
Díaz' administration (1876-1911), and is currently an animated and
well attended promenade that allow strollers to watch the coming
and going on the wharfs of Veracruz
, and the sheer
size of the globetrotter ships docking and weighing anchor at the
There are flashy folkloric shows every night to lengthen the joy of travellers. Moreover, there are numerous handicraft stores, cafes and hotels in this gathering zone.
-Castle of San Juan de Ulúa:
It is an impacting
fortress built at the colony's dawn to protect the Port of Veracruz
the maritime doors of New Spain (Mexico), from the bolt misdeeds
of the pirates, among them the emblematic and feared Francis Drake.
The "protective" walls of the fortress were raised on the small Island of San Juan de Ulúa, in front of the port city. It is said that there had been a sanctuary to honour the god creator, omnipresent and aware of all human affairs, Tezcatlipoca, in the Island.
The Spanish history of the Island goes back to June the 24th of 1518, when the expedition led by Juan de Grijalva came ashore in it. The Spaniard decided to give it the name of San Juan because he had disembarked on the day of Saint John the Baptise, and Ulúa for being the name given by the locals to their land.
A second expedition under Hernán Cortés' command - the conquistador
of Mexico -, would arrive on April the 21st of 1519 to found a Spanish
settlement on a piece of hard land in front of the Island. The born
City would get the name of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz
Not much time had to pass before the new City would become the main
access to New Spain; although due to its shallow waters and much
exposed position the galleons had to anchor at the San Juan de Ulúa
Island, where years later a notable fortress was to be built.
The defensive building of San Juan has a great tower, extensive walls and powerful bulwarks, besides a church, a hospital and even barracks for the slaves. The construction process of the works may have begun in the mid XVI century, prolonging up to XIX century.
When the fight for Mexico's independence ended the Island and the fortress remained under the control of the Spanish forces until September of 1825. Later it would become a feared prison whose "fame" would increase during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (1876-1911), a period during which his political enemies occupied the "vats" (name given to its narrow an humid cells).
The fortress ceased to be a prison on July the 2nd of 1915, thanks to the promulgation of a decree signed by president Venustiano Carranza. The Castle was declared Historic Monument in 1962, becoming administered by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Its rooms are currently the exhibition rooms of a museum.
It is located in the north zone of the old City. Nowadays the Island is connected to the mainland by a long road that starts at the Plaza de la República.
-Bulwark of Santiago:
It is one of the few representations
of colonial military architecture still standing. It is situated
in the south zone and formed by a tower of medieval style and 12
cannons; elements that are the last remains of an extensive wall
that protected the port City from the pirates' and corsairs' attacks,
evildoers who were attracted by the valuable goods coming in and
out of Veracruz
between the XVII and XVIII centuries.
The time of its construction is unknown, though it is known that the works ended in 1635 and were under the supervision of Adrian Boot, an engineer and cosmologist of Flemish origins. The fortification was erected with the appreciated stones of shallow reefs, a rock of marine origins similar to the tezontle, coming from Campeche, and with lime and sand.
The Bulwark of Santiago not only protected the City from the pirate attacks, but also from the siege of foreign troops, sustaining severe and intense bombings.
By the late XIX century, when peace reigned in Mexico, the bulwarks became unnecessary and most of them were demolished, save the one of Santiago due to its historic and military importance.
The bulwark was handled to the local town hall in the mid XX century,
and it has been used for cultural purposes ever since. There is
a small museum inside with the weapons used during the conquest
and the pre-Columbian jewels found in the Spanish shipwrecks lying
on the coasts of Veracruz
It is located between 16 de Setiembre Avenue and Francisco Canal Street.
-Aquarium of Veracruz:
It is the eighth most visited
aquarium on the planet and the largest and best equipped in Latin
America with 3493 square metres. It was inaugurated in 1992 and
hosts about 3000 marine species in 25 pools, one of them of monumental
The so-called Great Oceanic Fishbowl has a perimeter of 69 metres and is formed by 13 walls of transparent acrylic 22 centimetres thick. It is the largest in Latin America and its special design allows it to support a pressure of one million 250000 litres of salt water coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Frightful sharks inhabit it.
The aquarium is divided in 7 sections, with the Fresh Water and Salt Water Galleries standing out. The former houses African mojarras, piranhas, Japanese fishes, crocodiles and turtles, amongst other species; the latter contains sea urchins, Carey turtles, seahorses and stonefishes. There are also leopard sharks, Moor idols, and scorpions coming from the Indian Ocean.
Besides exhibiting marine flora and fauna, the aquarium executes scientific projects of great importance, such as the protection and follow-up of the migratory routes of the sea turtles, the conservation of the coral reefs, and the reproduction of sharks and manatees; the latter is on the brink of extinction.
It is located on Avila Camacho Boulevard, unnumbered, Colonia Flores Magón.
-Gran Café La Parroquia:
It is a symbol of the
port City. A traditional and emblematic place where to "see and
be seen" while chatting and tasting a delicious cup of coffee.
It was inaugurated as a sweetshop in 1824 and important characters of national politics frequented its lounges, along with sportspeople, artists and stars of the show business. Its name (The Parish) came as a result of the closeness of its first local to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Asuncion, popularly known as the parish.
In the 1920s a series of family problems amongst the owners forced it to change its seat. Today it is on 340 Insurgentes Veracruzanos Avenue.
When you visit the Gran Café La Parroquia, delight yourself with the aromatic beverages and its milk additions, its delicious pastries (emparedados) of turkey breast, accompanied with pickled chilli jalapenos.