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 Veracruz City Guide and Directory

Veracruz is a major historic port city that is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the state of Veracruz. It is the largest city in the state and has a rich and storied past. In 1519, Hernan Cortez landed on an island just off the shore of present day Veracruz and soon embarked on his conquest of the Aztec Empire. The original name that Cortez gave the port was "La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz" (The Rich Town of the True Cross).

Son Jarocho
Son Jarocho
It was from the port of Veracruz that the Spanish galleons set sail for Spain, their ships laden with silver and other treasures. Pirates aware of this fact and made numerous attempts to pillage the city, being successful on more than one occasion. In response, the fort of San Juan de Ulua was constructed by the Spaniards to guard against these raids. This fort has also served as a prison throughout its history and its dungeons (calabozos) housed some notable people, Benito Juarez amongst them.

When the Spaniards arrived in the New World they brought many diseases along with them. As a result, the indigenous peoples, who had no immunity against such diseases, were decimated. This tragic event bore yet another; the conquerers then turned to African slaves to do their work. These slaves were brought to the New World via the Caribbean to the port of Veracruz. This African influence has helped to shape the city of Veracruz and its customs.

Additionally, Cuban immigrants have also contributed greatly to the culture of Veracruz, having been forced to leave their beautiful yet tumultuous island in search of save haven.

One of the most exciting times to visit Veracruz is during Carnaval which occurs one week before Ash Wednesday. People from all over Mexico flock to Veracruz for this event and music can be heard from every inch of the city. Indeed, music and dance play a large role in the city of Veracruz. Marimba bands can be heard throughout the city night and day and the elegant dance of the danzon brings young and old together. The music of son jarocho was born in the city of Veracruz; son jarocho is a lively melding of Mexican folk music spiced with Cuban distinction. The song known as "La Bamba" is unquestionably the most famous offspring of this genre.

A great place to enjoy the nightlife of Veracruz is at the city's zocalo (town square) called the Plaza de Armas. Bars and cafes line the plaza and it's a fantastic place to enjoy the city's fine cuisine. A wonderful ambiance fills the air as musicians and dancers entertain patrons who dine on the typical regional dishes that the city is known for.

Across the street from the Plaza de Armas is a noteworthy restaurant called the Gran Cafe del Portal. The menu is extensive and provides an array of choices for the discerning diner, including fabulous seafood dishes. One can enjoy a invigorating cup of coffee here, cafe con leche, served in the distinctive Veracruz fashion (black coffee with steaming hot milk).

Adjacent to the Plaza de Armas, are two noteworthy historic buildings to visit, the 17th-century Palacio Municipal and a lovely 18th-century cathedral, both wonderful subjects for photographing.

While visiting Veracruz, don't miss El Acuario de Veracruz, the largest aquarium in all of Latin America. This aquarium is noteworthy for its large shark tank as well as a tank that is circular in design, giving the visitor the impression they are in the ocean, surrounded by its inhabitants. Incidentally, it can get rather hot and humid in Veracruz. Should you be interested in taking a dip in the ocean, 5 miles south of town is Mocambo, a popular beach that offers a variety of water sports.

Veracruz is a popular travel destination for Mexican nationals. It is located 260 miles west of Mexico City and has an important archaeological site just 3 hours away. The site is called "El Tajin" and is known for its pyramid called the "Pyramid of Niches".

The following businesses provide services in the city of Veracruz or nearby area

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