Santa Rosalía, Baja California Sur


Santa Rosalía, Baja California Sur

Infobox Settlement
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Santa Rosalía is a city located on the Baja California peninsula, in the northern part of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. It was named after Saint Rosalia, although the reason for the name is not quite clear since the Misión de Santa Rosalía is not located by the town, but rather in Mulegé, about 100 km (60 miles) south, and the local parish is devoted to Santa Bárbara. (See: Spanish missions in California.)

Santa Rosalía is a port city, and a regular ferry connects with Guaymas, Sonora, on the other side of the Gulf of California. At the Palo Verde Airport daily flights are available from Guaymas and twice a week from Hermosillo, Sonora.

This town boasts French influence, particularly in its architecture. A French company called "El Boleo" founded the town in 1884 and exploited copper mines in this town until 1954 when they shut down. They built houses and installed a metallic church building (The Santa Barbara parish) which is argued to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel.

A state owned company (CMSRSA) reopened the works using basically the same (rather archaic) process until the 1980s, when it was definitively closed due to the low-grade of the ore with regard to the technology used.

Unlike many other mining sites, the industrial facilities which are located in the very middle of the town, were never dismantled. Of particular interest are the reverberatory furnace and the metallurgical converter, although they are currently not accessible by the public due to safety concerns. Old locomotives, mining equipment and machinery are visible everywhere, witnesses to an active past. The main mining company offices (La dirección) have been turned into an industrial museum.

The 2005 census showed a population of 9,768 persons. The city is the seat of the municipality of Mulegé.

Facts and Controversy on the metal church

One of the main attractions at the town is undoubtedly the metal church. Originally built entirely of stamped steel sheet squares, it is supported by a formidable steel structure in a sober and austere style. It has been brutally modified in favor of functionality (its former lateral corridors were turned into habitable space using crude masonry), and stripped of several of its original stained glasses. Despite these modifications, it still preserves some of the original 1800s spirit.

Tradition credited its design to the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel and that it was shown in the 1889 Universal Exposition of Paris, France, along with the tower, and that it was awarded with a prize. Originally destined for construction in Africa, the French company director Charles La Forgue found it disassembled in Belgium and bought it in 1894, probably to alleviate the nostalgia of the French community who missed the lifestyle and glamour of the European architecture. In the early 1990s Angela Gardner, an American architectural student who visited Santa Rosalía and examined the church, came to a hypothesis that the church design was from a different architect, belonging to the House of Duclo rather than Eiffel's firm, to the dismay of the locals, who believe this would diminish the appreciation of the building. As no historical record or blueprint has appeared, neither version could be confirmed and still remains as one of the many colourful tales surrounding the town. Some hoped that clues would emerge with the recent disclosure of the historical archives to the public by the INAH (Mexico's National Institute of Antropology and History), but this has not happened.

References

* [http://www.inegi.gob.mx/est/contenidos/espanol/sistemas/conteo2005/localidad/iter/ Link to tables of population data from Census of 2005] INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografia e Informática
* [http://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/english/cultura_y_sociedad/arte/detalle.cfm?idsec=14&idsub=52&idpag=599 Link to comments on the metal church by Francoise Dasques]

External links

* [http://www.mexonline.com/santarosalia.htm Santa Rosalia City Guide]
* [http://www.esmexico.com/fotografias/areas.php?len=en&Estado=Baja%20California%20Sur&Area=Santa%20Rosal%EDa esmexico.com] Santa Rosalia Photos


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