In 1518, the Spanish captain Juan de Grijalva arrived on a small, barren island that he named San Juan de Ulua.
Later, on the island’s beaches, the conqueror Hernan Cortes founded La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz on April 22, 1519. It can be said that the city of Veracruz and its port were the first to give birth to this budding nation, by having become the starting point for the mixing of two worlds.
Today, Veracruz shines as one of the most attractive tourist destinations thanks to its remarkable cultural diversity, magnificent buildings, music, folklore and the joyous feeling of the "jarochos". The Plaza de Armas or Zocalo located at the heart of the city, which in times past has been the starting ground for many battles and political struggles, is a beautiful stage that serves as the ideal framework for presenting all kinds of events. The folkloric dances attract both friends and strangers calling their attention and inviting them to savor the local spirit with the rhythm of danzon.
Veracruz’s architecture unfolds in a variety of styles where the colonial past and modern times are mixed harmoniously. To one side is the Cathedral of Asuncion with its naves in iconic and doric styles, a building that was completed in 1721 and which, by 1963 had become a World Heritage site thanks to its unique beauty. On the other side, succeeding one after another are monuments, obelisks and museums. The Museo de Pemex stands out as an artistic monument with its sculptures of maritime scenes that form part of its design, as well as the mural of the “Eagle in Full Flight” (Aguila en Vuelo), where from its wings come out ears of corn and gears, symbolizing the agricultural past and the industrialized present, while its claws hold the sea and the land prisoners in a sublime union. The historic Naval Museum, which used to serve as the Military Naval School at the end of the 19th century, has 11 historiographic halls, temporary exposition halls, a library and auditorium. The ancient hospice of Zamora, a neoclassical building that had its first stone put into place in 1852, became the city’s museum in 1970 and offers different aspects of the culture and evolution of Veracruz. Similarly, since 1987, the Veracruz Institute of Culture, has been spreading, recovering and preserving the city’s culture. And many more places there are that so treasure the unique past and proudly show its society at present, rich with history and customs!
There can be no doubt that Veracruz has become the center of worldwide attention thanks to its incomparable carnival. Year after year, between February and March, the city melts into the rhythm of music and the colorful traditions of the entire town, thus giving birth to a party without end which echos on every corner of the steets.
It is a must for any tourist to visit the Arts & Crafts Market, where you can purchase a large variety of creations made from different kinds of shells, even sharks teeth and more. And have you ever seen a shark swimming in its natural habitat? If you haven’t, then delight yourself with watching the many scary creatures and hundreds of species at the Veracruz Aquarium, where the 9 freshwater and 16 saltwater tanks are the main attractions.
And before you leave you shouldn’t forget to visit San Juan de Ulua, which in different times was used as a fortress, wharf, prison and municipal palace. Without a doubt it’s a testimony of solid rock where the history of Veracruz throughout the centuries is condensed and where also lies its origins.
Rest assured that new experiences and pleasant memories will never be missing in Veracruz, because here resides the magic of this wonderful place; a port that will always welcome you with open arms and win the hearts of those fortunate enough to feel its heat in the immensity of the sea and the sky.