In few cities like Zacatecas it is understood at first glance why it is a World Heritage site. Its architecture is the perfect framework for a culture that can be felt in its museums, in its festivals, in its recurring concerts and performances on public roads, in its joyous alleys. Baroque, mining and revolutionary Zacatecas endowed with beauty from its basement to the impressive blue of its skies is a city that keeps its history, but also opens to the future and presents itself as a living space, unique of sounds and flavors that surprise and they remain forever in memory.
Zacatecas is a Nahuatl word that has been used to give the name to the municipality of the capital, its municipal seat and the state. The Zacatecas or Zacatecos formed a Chichimeca group that, until the arrival of the Spanish, inhabited the region surrounding the La Bufa hill.
The word Zacatecas means inhabitants of the land where the grass abounds. It is derived from the words: zacatl, which means reed, grass, grass, and the locative co. Both make up the term Zacatécatl, whose meaning is: inhabitant of Zacatlán (site where the grass abounds).
Evolution of the nomenclature of the municipal seat:
1546 to 1585
The Mines of the Zacatecas.
The Mines of Our Lady of Remedies.
1585 to 1588
The City of Our Lady of the Zacatecas.
1588 to 1824
The Very Noble and Loyal City of Our Lady of the Zacatecas.
1825 to date
Approximately ten thousand years ago the first settlers arrived in the current territory of Zacatecas, and found a very different scenario from the one we know today. It was a region favored by nature. The hill of La Bufa and its geographical contours were populated with incessant and varied forms of life from the vegetable and animal kingdoms.
The various Chichimec tribes that inhabited the Zacatecan territory were the Caxcanes, Guachichiles, Guamares, Irritilas, Huichols, Tecuexes, Teules, Tepehuanes, Coras, and Zacatecas. This last tribe was one of the most important and derived from it the name of the capital and the state. The caxcanes occupied a large part of what is now Jalisco and Zacatecas.
After the Mixtón War that the caxcanes fought with Spaniards in 1541, some Hispanic soldiers dedicated themselves to seeking wealth in the north, including Juan de Tolosa, who, guided by an indigenous man, would reach what is now Zacatecas, on September 8. That same day he returned again to the south with some samples of stones, which after examining them, they found that they contained very good grade of silver and lead. A few weeks later, many interested in searching for veins began to arrive, including Tolosa, Diego de Ibarra, Baltasar Temiño de Bañuelos, Andrés de Villanueva, among others. Cristóbal de Oñate was one of the company's sponsors.
The mineral wealth of the subsoil would attract many people and would produce great income for the Spanish crown. In this way the "silver aristocracy" was founded. This wealth caused Zacatecas to become, in a few years, one of the most important and populated New Hispanic populations, after Mexico City.
In addition to the wealth and the progressive increase in population, another element was added to make it come to be considered as the second most important city in New Spain: the establishment of religious orders, among which the Franciscan stood out. Zacatecas thus became one of the main centers of New Hispanic missionary operations.
A settlement that suddenly became a key place for missions, commerce, mining, received diplomas according to their condition. Three decades before the end of the 1585th century, Zacatecas received the privilege of the title of City of Our Lady of the Zacatecas, by royal decree issued in XNUMX, by the Spanish monarch Felipe II. Three years later the same monarch granted this city the title of Very Noble and Loyal, as well as the coat of arms, a privilege that very few towns and cities enjoyed during the Viceroyalty.
In addition, it is worth considering that much of the Silver and other minerals emerged from this soil became true architectural jewels carved in pink quarry and the result was a city endowed with enormous beauty, magical and stately, for its line and architecture. . That monumental construction boom occurred during the XNUMXth century.
As is well known, the nineteenth century due to innumerable ups and downs that affected national history. When the War of Independence began, Zacatecas intervened, represented by famous figures such as Víctor Rosales and José María Cos. On September 21, 1810, the day Hidalgo entered Celaya, the first news of the movement circulated in Zacatecas. After ten years of struggle, and after signing the Treaties of Córdoba, Independence was sworn in in the city of Zacatecas by the local authorities on July 5, 1821.
During the first years of independent life, the state of Zacatecas and its capital adopted a royal eagle, devouring a snake, as its coat of arms, and the one granted by Felipe II in the XNUMXth century was obsolete. The rank of the city made it the capital of the Free and Federated State of Zacatecas, seat of state powers, residence of Governors, including Francisco García Salinas, one of the fathers of federalism in Mexico.
Between 1824 and 1825 the city witnessed and the scene of the appearance of some institutions: the first printing press operated in Zacatecas, the General State Treasury and the Revenue Administration of the capital were established, the Supreme Court of Justice was created; the first Political Constitution of the State entered into force (one of the first in the country); In addition, the Commercial Court of Appeals and the Mining Court of Appeals were established. The Patriotic Society of Friends of the Country was founded for cultural, civic and social purposes, made up of miners, merchants, farmers, artisans and men of letters; its organ of diffusion was the Political Mail, the first copy appeared in April 1825, being the first newspaper published in Zacatecas.
In 1826 the first normal school opened its doors, located on the top of the house known as that of the Countess; Various publications came to light, including El abanico, a magazine directed especially at women. In this year slavery was abolished in the state. In 1827 the construction of the Rosales portal began and in the place formerly occupied by the prison, in 1833, a theater that would later be named after the playwright Fernando Calderón, a majestic building with a capacity for two thousand spectators. Unfortunately, on October 3, 1889, he suffered a terrible fire that left him in very bad shape. During this time, the construction of the main market was completed, a magnificent building whose second floor functioned as a theater and cultural center, instead of the burned-out theater that eight years later would reopen as the fabulous Calderón theater.
At the end of the last century, notable artists emerged, such as Fernando Villalpando and Genaro Codina, author of the March Aréchiga or March Zacatecas, considered the second National Anthem. During the Porfiriato, numerous buildings and monuments were built on the foundations of many old estates that threatened to collapse. Also during this period the arts flourished with a marked French influence. In 1884 the first train arrived in the city and electric power, telephone and telegraph were installed.
During the Mexican Revolution, it was up to Zacatecas to become the scene of one of the decisive battles in national history: the Taking of Zacatecas, which occurred in 1914. There the revolutionary forces triumphed and the tomb of huertismo was dug. For this fact alone the city deserved one more honorary title: that of Heroic City. In those years, the coat of arms of the original city - the same one that Felipe II granted in 1588 - was dusted off and put back into use, not only as the official coat of arms of the city, but of the state of Zacatecas.
To conclude, it is worth noting that in the middle of this century, the rescue and preservation of the city's architectural features began to take place. This made it possible for the UNESCO World Heritage Commission in December 1993 to approve the inscription of the Historic Center of Zacatecas as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.