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XALAPA

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Xalapa, a modern and industrial City; Xalapa, a State and academic Capital; Xalapa is the "Athens of Veracruz", a place with different faces and dissimilar attractions framed by a privileged setting, with ravines and enormous mountains (amongst the highest in the country) and with nearby cities with coffee aromas and a marked colonial semblance.

Of pre-Hispanic roots, Xalapa presents an uneven outline that adapts to the irregularities of the terrain, a peculiarity that has allowed it to conserve a series of charming narrow streets and alleyways, on which each step is a trip across the centuries.

On your visit to Xalapa you should not miss the following places:

In the City

-Palace of Government: It was built on the remains of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception in 1885, thanks to the donations of Antonio Maria de Rivera, the founder of the National School of Xalapa. The governmental edifice is of neoclassical style and presents a portal with midpoint arches, flanked by columns with Toscana capitals, on the ground floor, whilst its rectangular window-balconies call the attention on the second floor.
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    Restored between 1936 and 1940, the palatial seat has walls of quarry pink stones and exhibits the cote de arms of four colonial cities (Veracruz, Xalapa, Córdoba and Orizaba) on its lateral western façade. Once in the inside its two patios with midpoint archways and columns dazzle, as well as a fountain pierced with estípite pillars (this detail appears on one of the columns alone). It is located between Zaragoza and Leandro Valle Streets.

    -Metropolitan Cathedral of Xalapa: The history of this urban treasure begins in 1741, when a wooden temple that years later would collapse was built. It was rebuilt in 1773 but this time the works would be a little more ambitious. The new house of God would impress the locals for its stylised gothic façade, its two-body portal and its coral window with ogival arches.
    However, beyond its architectonic brag, there was a detail that rattled the curiosity of the believers and the non believers alike: the unfinished belfry, which came to a standstill for strange reasons that have not been totally revealed so far; though there are those who believe that a series of underground tunnels impeded its conclusion, because the excessive weight would not be supported by the perforated terrain.
    The beautiful temple, named Cathedral in 1864, houses the image of the Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patron of Xalapa. Walking on its interior is a pleasant tour along the aisles of faith that lead to the overloaded gothic altar, and allow the appreciation of its carved chorus stalls, besides several religious canvases, born of the inspiration of the famous artist from Oaxaca, Miguel Cabrera. There is also a museum dedicated to the Bishop of Veracruz, Rafael Guízar y Valencia (1877-1937), blessed by Pope John Paul the 2nd on January the 29th of 1995, and whose canonisation process is underway, within the Cathedral's compound.
    It is located on the crossing of Revolución and Juan de la Cruz Enriquez Streets.

    -Old Streets and Alleyways: There are streets and alleyways of colonial aspect subsisting in the centre of Xalapa. They are little pieces of yesterday, spaces of silent nostalgia, with houses simply cosy, with red roof tiles and colourful flowers that configure part of a past that wont go away, that resists the brunt of time and that wont bend before the modernising threats of a globalised future.
    If you wish to listen to old stories and legends do not fail to visit the following alleyways in Xalapa:
    • May Jesus Shelter You Alleyway (Callejón Jesús Te Ampare): It is said that a Spanish matrimony and their daughter, an attractive young lady who was in love with a trader called Cosme Taboada, lived in here. One night, when the pretender was saying goodbye to his muse at the foot of the window, a drunkard stabbed him on the back. The young lady, before such dramatic scene, could only scream: "Cosme, may Jesus shelter you!" And since then the Alleyway is known with this name.
      It is located on Xalapeños Ilustres Street, almost before the Church of San José.
    • Diamond's Alleyway (Callejón del Diamante): Its name is related to the tragic ending of a wealthy couple of Spanish spouses. This story with rivets of legend has that the husband, when he was a bachelor about to engage, he gave his fiancé a ring with a rare black diamond that, according to those time's believes, was good to fortify the love and, by the way, reveal infidelities. In certain occasion and while her husband was away on a trip, the woman decided to pay a visit to her husband's partner with non-sancta intentions. After consummating the treachery the lady went back home, unaware that she had left her ring behind on the bedside table of her occasional lover.
      When her husband came back decided to first visit his friend, discovering the ring. Outraged though keeping the appearances, he went home and approached his wife, whom he saluted with a kiss on her hand, hence confirming his fears. Hurt and in despair, with a broken heart and wrath blinded, he stabbed his wife. Before running away he threw the jewel over the cadaver.
      That is how the name of the Alleyway was originated; it is located between Enriquez and Juarez Streets, a block away from Juarez Park.


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