The Alhondiga de Granaditas in Guanajuato is a historical building, monument and regional history and art museum built between 1798 and 1809. Alhondiga means “grain storehouse or market”, and the building originally housed a large grain and seed storehouse, or granary.
In 1810, the building became a fortress for Spanish troops and loyalist leaders and the site of the first major victory over the Spanish. Under the command of Miguel Hidalgo, a local miner by the name of Jose de los Reyes Martinez, nicknamed El Pipila, tied a large stone to his back to deflect bullets and breached the Spanish defenses by burning down the fortress doors.
Hidalgo’s troops were victorious, and a statue and monument to honor El Pipila was erected on a hillside overlooking Guanajuato. The hilltop monument and Guanajuato attraction can be accessed via a funicular that runs up the hillside from the Jardin de la Union, or central plaza.
Spanish-owned mining operations had brought great prosperity to the region, and the Mexican Independence movement continued to face significant opposition in colonial Guanajuato. Revolutionary leaders Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Jimenez were eventually captured and beheaded, their heads hung from the four corners of the Alhondiga de Granaditas.
In 1864, the Alhondiga de Granaditas building was converted into a prison, and in 1967, it became the Museo Regional de Guanajuato (Regional Museum of Guanajuato). The museum houses exhibits on colonial history, precolumbian artifacts and regional crafts. Murals in the staircase created by Jose Chavez Morado depict the history of the colonial era and the region’s role in the struggle for Mexican Independence.
Attached to one side of the building is a large plaza with a wide staircase that’s used as an open-air auditorium and hosts live performances during the city’s annual International Cervantes Festival, the most important event of the year for Guanajuato tourism.