From the word hacer -to make.
Hecho en Mexico -(Made In Mexico) is to be seen here on many products. A Hacienda therefore was where things were made.
In the 15-1600’s huge tracts of land were given by the King of Spain to his Conquistadors in the New lands. These land grants morphed into what we know as the Hacienda. Their heyday was the 18th, and 19th centuries. The Revolution of 1910 ended all that and the vast estates were given back to the people. The buildings fell into ruin, the grand houses sometimes survived and the chapel nearly always survived as the town church.
There is a group of us here who regularly go Hacienda Hunting to find these hidden relics of the past. Jim Cook does a lot of the footwork researching these places. See his excellent on blog on many things but also Haciendas here and here.
They were self contained fiefdoms which made everything they needed. They were vast, absorbing whole valleys. Some were almost as big as the present States of Mexico. Many if not most of the towns and villages of present day Mexico grew around the original Hacienda taking its name. The church in a small town Plaza is usually all that is left of what once was.
A Hacienda by definition had to be self sustaining. They were the manufacturers and food suppliers for the towns or the villages mining the gold and silver to export back to Spain. Many just raised cattle to feed the growing cities . In the earliest times there were no towns only some indigenous settlements and the hacienda was often built near to one of these for labor. The haciendas then turned into communities and then towns. Most were destroyed in the Revolution about a hundred years ago.
Below– The Hacienda La Libor which is near to Tequila Mountain.
VISTA HERMOSA is a relatively prosperous farming town at the eastern end of the Lake about 120 miles from here.
It developed from the two Haciendas of El Molino and Buena Vista-both very prosperous. It is an unassuming town one might drive through without comment but it holds some treasures. We stopped at the central plaza and wandered into the little museum. We were soon joined by a well dressed lady and two guides plus a film cameraman. They were proud of their town and gave us a full tour.
My camera had a flat battery that day so I had to use an iphone and be spartan in my shots.
The highlight of the town is this Chapel of Our Lady of Refuge. Built in Gothic style to house the mausoleum of Martinez Negritte the owner of the hacienda and his two wives.
The interior is like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. In romantic decay. It must have been quite something when new.
Below– The mosaico tiles one sees in many old buildings in Mexico. These are what we used also in our house.
We asked if we could eat our picnic lunches we had bought on the terrace of the Hacienda. Yes indeed. In fact the well dressed lady (on the left) turned out to a State Senator and she invited us all to her “house” -or rather I think it was a house for town or state receptions. All clean and new with tequila being poured for us at the large dining room table.
Such events never fail to impress me here in Mexico. This area I think is battling with cartel violence but still these people were all happy and glad to offer hospitality to visiting strangers that went far beyond the expected.
A visit to Hacienda San Garcia de Gracia.
On the other side of the hills across the lake and south of us is a beautiful agricultural valley.
Upon parking we were asked politely by a guy sitting outside the one store what we were doing so far off the beaten track. As soon as the reason was ascertained he changed to English went for the key and gave then us a tour.
This was a very big Hacienda and was bought by an Italian in the late 1800’s. He immediately remodeled the buildings into classical style. He was apparently quite a tyrant and was never seen in person by the population.
When the revolution came he escaped through a tunnel and was never seen again. The town sits in a kind of limbo because the original family still own the property but will not come back through fear of litigation. The current tenants therefore live rent free !
This family below graciously hosted us at a picnic site cooking up all kinds of local foods. The father at the center with the hat a few years ago came upon members of our group out looking for a waterfall. He stopped work in his field and took them miles to find it. Ever since he has hosted us on his property.
After a three month hiatus another Hacienda Hunt. This time to the beautiful wide Ameca Valley about a couple of hours N.E. of here.
We have been in parts of this valley before as it is rich in old haciendas. The area got rich supplying Guadalahara and the mines north in Zacatecas.
Morning mist was burning off as we arrived at the small town of …San Antonio Matute.
Some schoolchildren on an expedition with plants in their hands practiced their English and directed us down a lane to the ruins.
We climbed over a wall by a locked gate and into what was once a fancy house with painted walls.
This was all built rebuilt around 1900 in brick and iron.
It was unusual in being a round neo-classical style interior.
Below– Also in Mexico Jesus does not take prime spot behind the altar. He is off to one side and Mary sits at centre.
Then on westwards down a quiet country dead end road to Jayamitla . One can always spot an ex hacienda by old chimneys.
We were hanging around the closed and locked doors wondering what to do next when a lady came by with a sun umbrella and told us she was the grandmother to the caretakers and could let us in.
Inside it was not a grand residence just a rectangle of houses around a garden and well.
Below– No not a museum set up but the actual working kitchen demonstrated by Grandmother.
Nothing changed here for millenia.
She really wanted us to photograph her caretaker son…
Below- The grandparents.
An old Spanish bullfight poster about all there was on the walls.
Down the road we stopped for refreshments at a small local tienda and the kids come out to have their photos taken by the visitors from Mars.
Below– Bourganvilla everywhere- and usually seen against a suitable backdrop.
Below-We ended our day with ice cream in the plaza of the large farming town of Ameca.
Below- the all seeing eye.
INTO THE BARRANCA.
Wrapping around the northern edge of Guadalahara is the “Barranca”‘-
a deep canyon cut by the Santiago River after it exits Lake Chapala and makes its way to the Pacific near Mazatlan.
Todays hacienda hunt took us deep into the canyon on twisting hairpin roads.
We went to the ruins of the Hacienda del Lazo– also known as Hacienda San Antonio del Salto.
El Salto means waterfall.
Hacienda El Luz goes back to 1674.
Above -Cristobal and his son who farm this plot deep in the canyon were glad to show us the chapel, the waterfall and what has survived of the Hacienda. He was busy planting corn when we arrived and like always hospitality comes first with Mexicans and he was glad to stop and show us around and explain the history.
Below-In this canyon like in many rural places in Mexico things have not changed in hundreds of years. As we were leaving Cristobals father came riding up with the hill with a sugar cane grass (I think) to feed the horses.
Hacienda Magdelena is on the north side of Guadalajara. Once far in the countryside but now encroached on all sides by the spread of nearby suburbs. It is still many acres in size.
Below-the ancient walls outside of this church.
Below–San Francisco Hacienda near Tizipan toward the east end of the lake Chapala.
The view from the front porch of the main house looking out at the north shore.
Now it is a horse training center with some splendid specimens. The house itself is being shored up by a crew of workmen living there.
Below-Huge Eucalyptus trees border fields of corn and cabbages.
The walls have trees growing through them. Below-Jim Cook our guide with C.
See Jims excellent blog about this same adventure but on another day here.
Below– C with D
There are several Haciendas west of Guadalajara. The names now escape me.
Below- This one was intact but needed some attention.
Below- The Hacienda Santa Lucia near Tesistan north west of Zapopan
Below-The house connected to the chapel via this open buganvilla lined corridor.
Below- At the end of the corridor the door to the chapel.
All that is left of many Haciendas is the chapel which becomes the main church in the Plaza today.
The interior was a nineteenth century plaster and paint creation now slowly deteriorating.
Below- A painting showing the fruits of the good life.
Note the monkey a necessary accomplice in chocolate production.
A Rancho is not as big as a Hacienda.
Usually Ranchos were outlying settlements where cows were rounded up- perhaps seasonal operations.
One such is the La Soledad Rancho near Santa Lucia. Still in the hands of the same family and visited on weekends. We were allowed in to look around. This is often the case as the owners are either proud of their refurbishment or simply glad to be helpful. Most of these haciendas are not public.
San Juan de los Arcos is now a private home near the town of Tala. It was almost in ruin when purchased some forty years ago. We were lucky enough to arrive when the owners were at home and they graciously invited us in.
1905 is the date on the plaque above the central arch. A few years later the last revolution began which was the end of many haciendas.
Below-The daughter of the family showing us a portrait of her parents and grandparents.
Below-The chapel which is usually the only remaining part of an old hacienda. It was while we were awaiting someone arriving with a key for the chapel that the hacienda owner let us in to the main house.
Some haciendas are in beautifully restored condition like Arcos (above) and some are in ruins almost disappeared. Many are like the one below Hacienda San Andrés which are somewhat intact but lived in by locals.
In this case Salvador (below) who is the current resident was more than glad to show us around.
Below some of the objects sitting around.
This urn sitting on the stairs while being quite beautiful in shape upon closer inspection revealed a surprising date inscribed upon it.
Hacienda La Quemada…its name has something to do with burnt but no one is sure why.
Below- One of our group posing with the boys who let us in to the hacienda. Their grandfather once worked in the hacienda and now they maintain it for events.
HACIENDA DEL CARMEN
This well preserved and restored hacienda in the Ameca valley sits amid sugar cane fields about an hour from here. It is now a hotel and after arranging with them for a visit we enjoyed a few hours there looking at the rooms and the spacious grounds.
Above-The water viaduct that brought water in from the hills.
Above– one of the old photos on the wall shows the inhabitants sometime before the revolution.
Below– Today from the same spot.
Above-A well fed monk hopefully looking out for the well being of the native woman.
Speaking of food. Here below is an outdoor table set for lunch.
Below-A peek into the kitchen
Below-Where lunch was served inside.
Below– An upper patio with more rooms.
Below-Our guide proved the old radio still works.
This room above also had a pool in the room.
For more posts on haciendas see here .