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"My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means. And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly"

Pancho Villa

CIUDAD DE CHIHUAHUA

The Most Literate City in Mexico

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There are many theories about the origins of the name Chihuahua. Some believe it derives from the Nahuatl language, translating as “between two waters,” while others believe it to be a Raramuri word that means “place of the holed-rock” or “dry and sandy place.” The name Chihuahua is certainly of indigenous origin, rather than of Spanish roots. Founded on October 12, 1709 by Blas Cano de los Rios and Antonio Deza y Ulloa as El Real de Minas de San Francisco de Cuellar.

 

Chihuahua’s close vicinity to the Sierra Tarahumara drew the Roman Catholic Missionaries to this region, resulting in many of the missions present throughout the canyons. Though there was little activity in this region during Mexico’s War of Independence, a most significant execution took place here – being that of the Father of Mexico - Miguel Hidalgo and his men in arms, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, and Jose Mariano Jimenez. Held prisoner in the Federal Palace of Chihuahua, these four men were executed in 1811 at the nearby Government Palace by the Royalist Spaniards. Their heads were decapitated and sent to Guanajuato City to be placed on display. This only fuelled tensions in the birth-region of the revolution – thus enraging the public into a momentum that eventually resulted in Mexico’s independence from Spain. There is a famous mural in Chihuahua’s Governors Palace, as homage to Father Hidalgo.

During the Mexican-American War, Chihuahua’s close proximity to the US resulted in her siege. Chihuahua fell to US forces in 1847 after the Mexican Army was defeated at the Battle of the Sacramento, which is just 24 km north of the city.

 

During the French Invasion, President Benito Juarez seated his government-in-exile in Chihuahua from 1864 to 1867. Eventually, under the presidency of Porfirio Diaz, the city’s economy expanded, becoming one of the most important cities in Mexico.

Chihuahua was drawn into the Mexican Revolution that lasted from 1910 to 1917, as it served as the operations base for the Division del Norte – an army led by the infamous Francisco Pancho Villa. While many memorials from this era remain in the city today, there is also the Historical Museum of the Mexican Revolution, which is housed at Pancho Villa’s former estate near downtown Chihuahua. It was Pancho Villa’s widow, Sra. Maria Luz Corral de Villa, who turned his estate into a museum. It is now managed by the federal government.

 

Today, Chihuahua remains a very important city in Mexico, with an economy that competes in second place to Monterrey, and is ahead of Mexico City. Chihuahua is highly ranked for human and social development, with a literacy rate of 99%, which tops the nation. As of 2017, the city of Chihuahua had a population just over 878,000, with the surrounding metropolitan area topping 1 million inhabitants.

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Into the Lands of the Raramuri (Tour)

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