Once granary and prison, today a museum, Alhondiga de Granaditas, in Guanajuato, is the most emblematic building of the Independence struggle, which celebrates in 2009 its first 200 years.

To commemorate this event, on November 8th 2009 the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) will inaugurate the exhibition “Imagenes de la Alhondiga” (Images of the Alhondiga), integrated by ancient photographs of the building, part of “Romualdo Garcia” Photographic Library heap. The photo library is part of Guanajuato Regional Museum, lodged in the Alhondiga building.

A conference cycle will develop from November 9th to 18th 2009 at the Alhondiga de Granaditas, where specialists will talk about the construction of the building and its plastic characteristics.

Among these specialists are Maria Guevara Sanguines, Alfonso Alcocer Martinez, Jose Tomas Falcon, Carlos Trejo Juarez, Marta Alicia Echeverria Mercado, Alfredo Avila Rueda, Jose Antonio Serrano, Carlos Armando Preciado de Alba and Enrique Arellano Hernandez, director of the museum.

Architect Arellano Hernandez mentioned the Alhondiga construction was possible thanks to the tenacity of intendant Juan Antonio de Riaño to assure the maize provision, basic foodstuff of Guanajuato population, which in late 18th and early 19th centuries had reached 80,000 inhabitants.

“It was in 1958 when the building became a location according to its historic and architectural value, being adapted to become the Guanajuato Regional Museum, to divulgate historic and cultural richness of the state”, commented Arellano.

The precinct lodges more than 9,000 artworks, among them 2,500 archaeological items from Chupicuaro Culture. 15,000 persons visit it each month in low season, and 29,000 in high season, mainly secondary, primary and kindergarten school students.

History of the Building

Guanajuato was a prosperous city in the New Spain territory. Santa Fe y Real de Minas de Guanajuato City Hall commissioned the master builder Jose Alejandro Duran y Villaseñor to conduct the Alhondiga project in the terrain known as Granaditas.

In July 7th 1797, Viceroy Miguel de la Grua y Branciforte authorized its construction, which began in January 5th 1798, ending in November 8th 1809, costing 218,306 pesos.

Its Neo Classic style contrasted with Baroque buildings such as Society of Jesus, San Cayetano and San Diego temples, reflecting the mentality of the time.

It was not a granary for long time. When Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rose up, some Peninsulars headed by Riaño entrenched with their wealth in the Alhondiga, hoping to resist the Insurgent troops. Upon their arrival, they managed to get in, killing Riaño and other Spaniards.

Having been a witness of Hidalgo’s army success, it was also the scenery where Realist troops leaded by Felix Maria Calleja, decided to exhibit the heads of Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Ignacio Aldama and Mariano Jimenez, as a lesson for insurgents.

The heads remained hanged until 1821, when, after Independence consummated, Anastasio Bustamante, captain general of Provincias Internas de Oriente y Occidente, ordered the removal of the rests and their burial at San Sebastian Cemetery in Guanajuato.

After 1811, the Alhondiga had diverse uses. It was a granary, school, tobacco factory, tenement house, and French troops’ barracks, becoming a jail in 1864, when Emperor Maximilian visited the city and gave the order, having the same use until 1949.

In the 1950’s decade, Guanajuato State governors Jose Aguilar y Maya and Jesus Rodriguez Gaona decided to convert it into a museum with the support of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), being Arturo Sierra its first director.

In June 26th 1958 Guanajuato Regional Museum was inaugurated with didactic aims, to exhibit its archaeological collections, wood-carved polychrome sculptures, oil paintings, furniture and 19th century objects, as well as textiles and ceramic, wood and brass objects.