Chihuahua was founded by the Spaniards, in October of 1709, under the name of Real de Minas San Francisco de Cuellar. The name Chihuahua comes from the Nahua Indian language that means "dry and sandy" and was originally spelled Xicuauhua.
This city has a dramatic past and is renowned for the important role that it played in history of Mexico. It is not considered a "tourist destination" by normal standards but there are many fantastic museums and places to see here. There is a Trolley car that goes around the city on an hourly basis to take visitors to the most interesting of the museums and sights or we will be happy to include for you a vehicle tour with an English speaking guide for more in-depth information.
Our Chihuahua City Guided Tour includes stops at; Pancho Villa's Museum, Quinta Gameros, the main Cathedral, the Plaza de Armas, Sacro Arte Museum (attached to back of the main cathedral) and the Federal Building.
Nombre de Dios Caverns located about 1 hour from downtown, to the North of Chihuahua city. One may walk along the 1 mile path through this underground cavern in about 1.5 hours. It is a fascinating, easy walk ,where you can see the stalagmites and stalactites that took millions of years to form. We can arrange a tour to this cavern for you if you have some free time in Chihuahua City.
Quinta Gameros is an excellent example of Arte Nouveau and was built in 1910. The original owner never got to live in it though. Legend says that Sr. Gameros ordered it built as a wedding gift to his fiance, Elisa Muller. Unfortunately, the Columbian architect, Julio Corredor Latorre, building the house fell in love with Elisa and they ran off together. At the same time, the Revolution overtook Chihuahua and the Gameros had to flee to the USA so they never actually got to live in the house. It has had many uses in its past though, even being used as headquarters for Pancho Villa at one time. An interesting side note; General Alvaro Obregon, a key player in the Revolution, was nearly executed here by Villa when he was staying as a guest. When the Revolution ended, Alvaro Obregon became president of Mexico and had a part in Villas assassination. This house finally became the museum that it is today in 1958 when the University of Chihuahua stepped in to help conserve it. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.
Revolutionary Museum (Pancho Villa's House) This museum is dedicated to Pancho Villa and his important role in the Revolution. It was opened in 1983 after being renovated and is filled with objects, guns, photographs and documents from the Revolution. The car that Pancho Villa was assassinated in, in Hidalgo de Parral, is on display here as well. You can see the bullet holes that riddled the vehicle and ultimately claimed the life of this hero of the Revolution. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.
Iglesia de San Francisco This church is a typical example of Franciscan architecture and was built at the beginning of the 18th century. It is one of the oldest in the city and is where Hildalgo's body was buried originally. In 1823 his body was moved to Mexico City. After the execution of Hidalgo and the other heroes of the war of Independence in 1811, their heads were cut off and taken to Guanajuato to the military barracks there and hung around the outside of the building in order to strike fear in the hearts of the people of the Independent movement. They were left there until 1821, when the war of Independence ended and the Spanish were thrown out, thus the beginning of Mexico (formerly known as New Spain).
Rectoria de la Universidad After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 and the obvious abandonment of the Jesuit College, Chihuahua was left without a university for higher learning. In 1826, the state government of Chihuahua built here, on this land, an Institute for the study of science and literary arts where most of the more prominent figures of the 19th and 20th century studied. In 1954, this building became a preparatory school, or junior high, after the University of Chihuahua was built and then in 1958 became the Rectoria de la Universidad that was used for the main administrative offices of the University.
Plaza Hidalgo Here you'll find a statue of Hildalgo that was originally constructed to show the exact spot where he was executed in1811. However, upon further research, it has now been made clear that he met his death inside the Palacio de Gobierno instead. It was inaugurated in 1889. At the base of the statue's column you'll find 4 smaller statues of other heroes of the war of Independence; Jose Maria Morelos, Ignacio Allende, Mariano Jimenez and Juan de Aldama.
Palacio de Gobierno Governor Don Luis Terrazas laid the first stone in 1882, though the purchase of the land was completed in 1878. It was built to house the State Government offices and retains the same function to this day. It was completed in 1891. On this land was once the Temple de Loreto that was part of the Jesuit College, demolished in 1878. You can see many murals on all the walls around the center courtyard that depict the history of Chihuahua from the expedition of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in 1530 up to the Revolution of 1910.
Palacio Federal (Federal Palace) -This bit of land has a lot of history piled upon it. It was first the Jesuit College and stretched the entire block long across Libertad street. That part of the building was demolished in order to open up the street access.
The building was demolished except for the one tower that had Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's prison at the bottom of it and the staircase that led to it. The new Mint was built around the tower and the staircase, preserving them perfectly. The Mint was demolished eventually when it was decided by Diaz to incorporate all government offices into another building.
The new Palacio Federal was inaugurated in 1910 and is a classic example of architecture from the 20th century. Hidalgo's Dungeon, has been preserved and is there for all to see at the bottom of the staircase. He wrote on the wall with charcoal while imprisoned there. This is what he wrote: "The tongue preserves the neck". Also there is a poem on one of the walls to show his gratitude towards 2 of the guards. He was executed by firing squad, together with other heroes of the war of Mexican Independence, on the 30th of July in 1811. It should be noted that Ignacio Allende was also confined in the second cell of the abandoned College at the same time but unfortunately his cell was demolished.
Today, the Palacio Federal has recently been renovated into a Museum called Casa Chihuahua. It exhibits paintings, artifacts about the history of Chihuahua, interactive learning devices and a video of the re-enactment of the execution of Hidalgo. This building is a great example of Neoclassic architecture. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.
Palacio Municipal (Municipal Palace) was built by governor Enrique C. Creel (for whom the town of Creel is named after) in 1904.
Plaza de Armas This plaza sits in front of the Palacio Municipal and just behind it you'll find the Cathedral. Just behind the Cathedral sits the Museum of Arte Sacro. There is a statue of Antonio de Deza y Ulloa, the founder of Chihuahua, in the middle near the Gazebo made of iron and bronze. The plaza is filled with benches to sit upon, small sectioned off gardens and a fountain as well. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.
Cathedral This Cathedral is the best Baroque style building, without a doubt, in all of Northern Mexico. The first stone was laid in 1725 and it was finished in 1779. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.
Museo de Arte Sacro Located just behind and attached to the Cathedral, here you'll find a museum featuring religious art that was missing for many years from the original Jesuit College that was demolished in 1878. All this art was later recovered from different sources and displayed in this museum, alongside other great masterpieces from the 18th century. A stop here is included with all our Guided Chihuahua City Tours.