The Nuestra Señora de la Soledad Church has a stark white exterior and two bulb-shaped blue and yellow-tiled spires. It looks more Russian Orthodox than Mexican and it’s a short walk to historic San Diego Fort. Perched on a hill overlooking the harbor, the fort was originally built in 1616, and rebuilt in its present configuration following a massive earthquake in 1776. The Cathedral combines different architectural styles fused throughout its building. If you look closely, you will be able to admire the subtle neo-colonial and byzantine details, mainly on the dome and the towers. On the inside, the building is adorned with tiles and golden mosaics, typical Mexican craftworks.
The Fort represents the town’s most significant historical bastion and the most important marine fortress in the Pacific Ocean. The Fort was the staging area for the loading and unloading of the Manila Fleet, and served to protect this lucrative trade link from Dutch and English pirates. The fort is a classic five-point fortress surrounded by a moat. A fascinating museum (with Spanish/English signage) is housed within the fort’s original hallways. Displays focus on the cultural exchange between Asia and the Old World with exquisite, rare relics on exhibit (open Tuesday - Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm). There is a light and sound show at the fort and special group pricing on request.
Another fascinating downtown attraction is the Diego Rivera Mural. Here artist Diego Rivera spent 18 months creating a 60 feet long street wide mural of tiles, seashells, and stones. For those with knowledge of this Mexican artist’s artworks, the mural offers a detailed technique of colorful shapes and a clear pre-Hispanic influence, an obvious reference to Quetzalcoatl (the Feathered Serpent). Rivera lived here during the last two years of his life.