Veracruz has been the scene of many of the critical events of Mexican (and American) history. The first successful incursion of Europeans on the American continent began here in 1519 with the arrival of Hernan Cortez with his small band of conquistadores, with their “guns, steel, and germs” and (most impressive to the natives) horses. The Naval Museum tells a number of these stories with well-designed displays. This photo features a tiller from a naval vessel, carved from ebony. The story that captured my attention recounted the warm reception with open arms by the people of Veracruz of the refugees from the Spanish Civil War. The Republicans were fleeing Franco’s Fascist regime (remember Guernica?). Thousands of Spanish Republicans were welcomed by Veracruz in the 1930s – none were welcome in the USA.

Like other Spanish cities founded in the Americas in the 16th century, Veracruz migrated about a bit before it settled down for good. One place it was located for some 50 years early on is on a little river some 20 miles north of the current city, a place with less than a 1000 residents these days, called La Antigua. We visited there for a fun-filled hour – had a cup of coffee by the river, visited the ruins of “Cortez’s House” (an administrative building – he never lived there), and were adopted by a dog who wanted to follow us home.

We had a good dinner in one of the famous old restaurants near the Veracruz Zócalo, the famous Café del Portal.

More Veracruz History