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Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery

Classic monument, Père Lachaise cemetery

Classic monument, Père Lachaise cemetery

Covering more than 100 acres, Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest within the city limits of Paris, and indisputably the city’s most famous.

It takes its name from King Louis XIV’s confessor, Père François de la Chaise, who lived in a house on the site.

Père Lachaise cemetery

Père Lachaise cemetery

 

The cemetery was established by Napoleon in 1804 with the declaration that “Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion”.

 

Notwithstanding Napoleon’s pronouncement, the cemetery was at first considered too far from the city to attract many burials.

 

Contemporary tombstone, Père Lachaise cemetery

Contemporary tombstone, Père Lachaise cemetery

Not until the remains of poet Jean de La Fontaine, Molière, and those of fabled lovers Abélard and Héloïse were transferred to the cemetery did the population begin clamoring for burial among the famous.

Among the notables who have since been interred there are French novelists Honore de Balzac and Marcel Proust, and American authors Richard Wright and Gertrude Stein.  (The name of Stein’s partner Alice B. Toklas is etched on the reverse side of Stein’s gravestone.)

Grave of Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise cemetery

Grave of Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise cemetery

 

Until Jim Morrison was buried in Père Lachaise in 1971, Oscar Wilde was arguably the cemetery’s reigning pop star.

Oscar Wilde's grave, Père Lachaise cemetery

Oscar Wilde’s grave, Père Lachaise cemetery

It was once the custom for Wilde’s admirers to kiss the monument while wearing red lipstick, but the damaging effects of the practice have required that the memorial be encased in glass.

Others musicians buried here include singers Édith Piaf and  Maria Callas, composers Bizet, Chopin, and Rossini, and French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

Grave of Amedeo Modigliani, Père Lachaise cemetery

Grave of Amedeo Modigliani, Père Lachaise cemetery

 

Père Lachaise painters include Eugène Delacroix, Max Ernst, Amedeo Modigliani, Camille Pissarro, and Georges Seurat.

Grave of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret

Grave of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret

 

 

French mime Marcel Marceau‘s grave is here.

 

So are those of actors and actresses Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, Yves Montand, and Simone Signoret.  (Montand and Signoret are buried together.)

 

The Rothchilds also have a family vault here.

 

Père Lachaise has been expanded five times.

Pyramid vault, Père Lachaise cemetery

Pyramid vault, Père Lachaise cemetery

 

Including the ashes of those cremated and the remains in the ossuary, the number of those who have been interred here is estimated to run as high as 3 million.

 

The cemetery is still accepting new burials from among those who either die in Paris or who have previously lived there, but so few vacant plots remain that today there is a waiting list.

 

Plots are now typically leased for 10 to 30 years, and abandoned remains from unrenewed leases are removed to make space made for new graves.  Those exhumed are boxed, tagged and moved to the cemetery’s ossuary.

 

 

Grave of Belgian poet Georges Rodenbach

Grave of Belgian poet Georges Rodenbach

 

 

Graveside monuments run from the mundane to the extravagant, and styles range from classic to contemporary.  The best among these make of Père Lachaise a giant sculpture museum.

 

An eerie sculpture on the grave of Belgian poet Georges Rodenbach is positively unnerving.

Communards' wall, Père Lachaise cemetery

Communards’ wall, Père Lachaise cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the gravesites of notable individuals, there are some stirring monuments to victims of genocide and mass murder.

 

 

 

 

 

The Communards’ Wall marks the site where the last of the insurgents was executed in 1871 during the “Bloody Week” in which the Paris Commune was crushed.

Holocaust memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Holocaust memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Dachau memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Dachau memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Among the Holocaust memorials here are those dedicated to victims of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau.

 

Auschwitz memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Auschwitz memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Bergen-Belsen memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

Bergen-Belsen memorial, Père Lachaise cemetery

 

Père Lachaise cemetery is located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant, and served by the Metro:  Philippe Auguste on Line 2 is near the main entrance), Père Lachaise, on Lines 2 and 3, is near a side entrance, and Line 3 Gambetta station on line 3, affords entry near the tomb of Oscar Wilde with  downhill walk through the rest of the cemetery.

See my related posts on visits to these other historic cemeteries:

Read additional posts from my  10 Days In Paris here:

2014-11-19 Fiesta de San Andres 018

Ticket booth, Calla Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The Jesuits who arrived on the heels of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500′s assigned a Catholic patron saint to each Mexican village.

In many towns, the name of the patron saint has been tacked onto the native city name.

In the village of Ajijic along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, the saint is San Andrés (St. Andrew) the patron of fishermen.

Amusement rides lined up on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Amusement rides lined up on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The historic name of this village is San Andrés de Axixic, but most everyone here knows it simply as Ajijic.

This year, the ten-day fiesta patronal – the patron saint festival – begins on Friday, November 21.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco.

It arrives on the heels of the Dia de la Revolucion holiday, and anticipates holiday observances that begin two weeks after the fiesta with the Christmas posadas, and do not end until early in February with the Fiesta de la Candelaria (Candlemas).

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

As I walk to the village plaza to see how the preparations are proceeding, only forty-eight hours remain until the start of the fiesta.

Metal sculptures of water fowl that adorn the plaza gazebo railing seem also to be looking  out over the preparations.

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

Metal sculpture on Plaza gazebo railing, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The run-up to this year’s event is marked by no small amount of suspense, because street renovations around the fiesta site, begun only weeks ago at the rainy season’s end, are still incomplete.

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The road construction crew is working at a frenetic pace rarely seen in this part of the world.

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

Street renovation, Ajijic, Jalisco

The workers setting up for the fiesta seem undeterred by the chaos.

Plaza canopy raising, Ajijic, Jalisco

Plaza canopy raising, Ajijic, Jalisco

Around the plaza men are setting up canopies for booths that will sell food, beverages, and souvenirs.

Video game parlor is the first amusement up and running

Video game parlor is the first amusement up and running

 

 

Under one of the canopies, a group of boys is already putting just-powered-up video games to the test.

 

The electronic games sit side by side with an air hockey game and a foosball table!

 

 

 

 

Kiddie ride on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Kiddie ride on Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

The carnival ride operators have just begun to arrive, but one ride has already been set up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferris wheel assemble, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Ferris wheel assemble, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

 

Nearby, a crew labors to erect the scaffolding of a Ferris wheel.

 

Occupational safety is left to the workers, who seem to be largely unconcerned about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducky seats awaiting assembly, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Ducky seats awaiting assembly, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

 

 

 

 

Other rides in various states of assembly now fill the Calle Colón adjacent to the Plaza.

 

Seats decorated as fancifully painted animals are strewn around waiting to be dropped into place.

 

 

 

 

Newly arrived ride, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

Newly arrived ride, Calle Colón, Ajijic, Jalisco

The ‘carneys’ hit the fiesta circuit at the rainy season’s end with their wives and  children, often sleeping in the vehicles with which they haul their amusements from event to event.

During the fiesta, it’s not unusual to see them keep their equipment secure by sleeping in the seats of their rides.

Power grid, Fiesta de San Andres, Ajijic, Jalisco

Power grid, Fiesta de San Andres, Ajijic, Jalisco

 

The ride operators, as always, tap directly into power lines, and a tangle of wires has already begun to form on the cobblestones.  There’s not a electric meter in sight.

Any fire marshal would close this party down in a heartbeat, but here the set-up has gone unchallenged year in and year out.

The fiesta may be a work in progress as I walk the site, but atmosphere already feels like a nostalgic throwback to days long gone north of the border.

Bumper car parking lot,  Ajijic Plaza, Jalisco

Bumper car parking lot, Ajijic Plaza, Jalisco

There is no exotic, high-tech equipment here, and most of these rides would look completely at home in a 1940′s amusement park.

This event, though, is far less about the carnival amusements, and much more about an opportunity for the people of the village to reaffirm their sense of community.

In forty-eight hours, as dusk fades, the rides will crank up and fluorescent lights in dayglo colors will begin spinning.

Children, their parents, and their grandparents will make their way to the Plaza to  mark the passage of another year.

Elaborately costumed bands will pump out ear-splitting tunes until the wee hours of the morning, street vendors will hawk roasted ears of corn and other delectable curbside noshes, and ice cream sales will be brisk.

If you’re unable to experience this event in person, drop by these pages in the next few days for more on the festivities.

Montmartre musings

Montmartre musings 001 Sacre Coeur

La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre

Capped by the white dome of the Sacré Cœur Basilica, Montmartre is a hillside neighborhood on Paris’s north side with a rich and bohemian history.

 

Eiffel Tower from Montmartre

Eiffel Tower from Montmartre

It’s where artists Monet, Mondrian, Pissarro, Matisse, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh painted during the Belle Époque.

It’s where African-American expatriate Langston Hughes wrote, and it’s where the Moulin Rouge birthed the can-can.

 

Street musician in front of Sacré Cœur

Street musician in front of Sacré Cœur

Montmartre first appears in history as the place where Bishop Saint Denis was decapitated by the Romans in 250 A.D. for preaching the Christian faith.

Nearby excavations have turned up vestiges of Roman baths from the 2nd century and Roman coins from the 3rd century.

Windmill on Montmartre

Windmill on Montmartre

The first of the windmills that later gave the Moulin Rouge its name appeared on the hill in the fifteenth century.  A couple of the original thirteen mills still remain.

Montmartre is also where the Paris Commune‘s 1871 uprising began.  The heights were retaken from the Communards by the French army in heavy fighting that became known as “Bloody Week” and the uprising was soon quelled.

Montmartre musings 006 street scene

Street behind Sacré Cœur

The Sacré Cœur Basilica was built as a symbol of penance for the suffering of the Paris Commune uprising and the Franco-Prussian War.

Financed by public subscription, construction began in 1875 and lasted for more than forty years.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, Montmartre had become an artists’ colony famous for its cabarets and cafes.

Cabarets like the Chat Noir and the Lapin Agile were popular haunts for writers and poets, and the Moulin Rouge is the setting for much of Toulouse-Lautrec’s work.

Montmartre musings 005 plaza

Plaza on Montmartre

 

 

 

Among the last of the bohemian gathering places to shutter its doors was R-26, a salon frequented by Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt, who immortalized it in his song “R. vingt-six”.

Montmartre musings 005 street scene

Montmartre street with dome of Sacré Cœur

 

 

 

 

 

The Basilica Sacré Cœur is a great starting point for a stroll through this picturesque neighborhood that winds down hill toward the Pigalle district.

 

The route passes the Espace Dalí, which showcases the work of Salvador Dalí.

 

Merry-g-round at the foot of Montmartre

Merry-go-round at the foot of Montmartre

It also  passes Renoir’s former studio, now the Musée de Montmartre, and the Bateau-Lavoir building, where Picasso, Modigliani and other artists once lived and worked.

 

 

Most of the artists moved to Paris’s Montparnasse neighborhood after the outbreak of World War I, but artists can still be seen with their easels amidst the tables and colorful umbrellas of Montmartre’s Place du Tertre.

Montmartre musings 009 Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge, Pigalle

 

At the bottom of the hill is the red-light district of Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge, from which Toulouse-Lautrec drew much of his inspiration.  It’s safe enough during the day, but no place for children, or at night.

 

Today, the neighborhood includes stores that cater  to rock musicians, and several rock concert halls, also used for rock music.

 

To get to Montmartre, take the Metro to the Anvers, Pigalle, Blanche, Abbesses, Lamarck – Caulaincourt or Jules Joffrin stations.  Take the funicular railway up the south side of the hill or take the bus which circles it.

 

See my related posts:

 

 

Landmark Paris

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

With more well-known landmarks than just about any other city, Paris challenges the visitor to decide which ones will make cut before the return flight.

Bas-relief on the Arc de Triomphe

Figures on the Arc de Triomphe

The iconic Arc de Triomphe, midway on the Champs-Élysées, was conceived to honor those who fought for France during the Napoleonic Wars, but also now memorializes those who have since fought for it.

 

Tomb of France's Unknown Soldier, Arc de Triomphe

Tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier, Arc de Triomphe

Chiseled into its walls are the names of the hundreds of battles fought by Napoleon’s  Grand Armée, and its friezes, figures and bas-reliefs make it something to be seen up close.

 

The World War I Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its Memorial Flame sit directly beneath the arch. In a practice which continued uninterrupted during the German occupation, the flame is rekindled each evening by former combatants,.

 

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

Enjoy a two kilometer walk down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest square.

Today it’s dominated by a giant Egyptian obelisk that once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple.

Decorated with hieroglyphics dating to the reign of pharaoh Ramses II, it was given to the French by the Ottomans.

Its gold-leaf cap, added in 1998, replaces one missing since the 6th century BC.

It was here that the revolutionary government guillotined King Louis XVI and other notables including Marie Antoinette and Maximilien Robespierre.

Adjoining it to the east are the Tuileries Gardens and a treasured trio of art museums: the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, the Orangerie, and the Louvre.

 

Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Two blocks away down the Rue Royal is the Eglise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. The distinctive design of this Catholic church is inspired by the Roman temple Maison Carrée at Nîmes.

The front facade frames a sculpture of the Last Judgment, and bronze entrance doors bear reliefs representing the Ten Commandments.  One of its first official functions following its 1842 dedication was the funeral of Frederick Chopin.

Paris Landmarks 008 Place Vendome

Place Vendôme

The Place Vendôme is a square located north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Église de la Madeleine. The column at its center was erected by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at Austerlitz.

Modeled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, its spiraling bas-relief bronzes were made from captured cannon and depict Napoleon’s campaigns.

He stands at its pinnacle, bare-headed and crowned with laurels, a sword in his right hand and a globe with Victory statue in his left.

Rear view of Notre-Dame Cathedral

Rear view of Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is most often photographed from its famous front, but I find views of the magnificent flying buttresses which support its remaining walls at least as awe-inspiring compelling, and the view of the river from this point is one of Paris’ most picturesque.

Few of the visitors taking selfies in front of Notre Dame, though, realize that one of Paris’s most unique and moving memorials sits only a stone’s throw away.

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

The Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation is a memorial to French Jews deported by Vichy France to Nazi concentration camps.

 

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

Built underground on the site of a former morgue, its long, narrow space and small rooms evoke the claustrophobia of imprisonment.

 

Urns containing ashes from concentration camps are positioned at both ends of the its tunnel.

 

Along the walls of the dimly lit chamber are illuminated glass crystals, one for each of the 200,000 deportees who perished.

 

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation

Inside, an eternal flame burns at the Tomb of the Unknown Deportee.

 

Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges

For something lighter in mood, follow the Rue Rivoli (walk or Metro) from the Louvre to the Place des Vosges.   When it was completed by Henri IV in 1612, few realized that this square would become the prototype for the residential squares of other European cities.

Place de la Bastille

Place de la Bastille

Homes around it are all built of red brick and stone to the same design. vNotable past residents include Victor Hugo (#6) and Cardinal Richelieu (#21).

It’s a great place to take a break from tourist site surfing, and to sit in its park under the linden trees.

The Place de la Bastille, birthplace of the French Revolution, is a four block walk away.

The Bastille itself is long gone, but a monument still marks the spot, and the Paris Opera now often performs at its Opera Bastille theater .

Next on this trip:  Sorting out Paris’s innumerable museums!

 

See also my related posts:

 

The Paris vibe

Paris Street Scenes 001

Paris, the Left Bank

My first departure to Paris was scheduled for 9/14/2001, but the trip was delayed by the weeks of air traffic disruption in the wake of 9/11.

 

In the weeks until my postponed departure, it often crossed my mind that U.S. had now shared the experience of  Parisians rocked by bombs during Algeria’s war for independence, and Londoners reeling from bombings by  Irish terrorists.

 

 

 

Café Luxembourg, Paris

Café Luxembourg, Paris

 

I arrived in Paris months later to find that the 9/11 disaster still evoked great sympathy for Americans among Parisians.

 

The irony was that only weeks before, U.S. conservative pundits had rebranded French Fries as Freedom Fries to protest lack of French participation in its Iraq invasion.

 

Kiosk newsstand, Paris

Kiosk newsstand, Paris

 

 

 

There may be no other city written about, photographed, and blogged about more than Paris, which challenges anyone writing about it to offer a new take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Restaurants Cafes 008 Bistro San Andre

Bistro Saint Andre, Paris

 

Paris is a city living very much in the present, but imbued always with a sense of its past.

 

Its monuments, museums, and cathedrals are milestones that wordlessly sketch out a millennium of history on its every street.

 

 

 

Paris Street Scenes 005

Florist shop, Paris

Paris is egalitarian in its appeal.  For the better part of two centuries, it has held the affections of old and young, the well-off and not so-well-off, students and artists of all stripes, and foreign tourists and expatriates.

Paris Street Scenes 018

Restaurant Méditerranée, Paris

Few cities are home to a greater wealth of world class monuments and museums, and the embarrassment of cultural riches creates for the visitor the problem of what to pick from more choices than a lifetime visit could accommodate.

 

 

 

Paris Street Scenes 010

Landscape architecture, Paris

 

 

But if the measure of a city is the power with which it arouses also the urge to revisit, few other cities continue to attract and engage visitors long after all of the sights have been seen as does Paris, because Paris is a state of mind.

 

 

Paris Restaurants Cafes 014 Bar du Marche

Bar du Marché, Paris

 

 

Paris is sidewalk cafes with curb-facing tables.  It’s bistros and brasseries.

It’s trendy boutiques in historic buildings on broad boulevards.

Paris is the tranquil oases of verdant urban parks and intimate side streets.

It’s sidewalk newsstands and booksellers and flower vendors.

Paris is cafe au lait and pain au chocolat.  And the Metro.

 

Paris Street Scenes 011

Tuileries Gardens, Paris

 

 

 

World-wise and world-weary, defiantly proud and self-assured, and infinitely elegant, Paris is a city that seems to have no doubts about what it is, and what it is not.

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Restaurants Cafes 001 Bouillon Racine

Restaurant Bouillon Racine, Paris

 

Come along on this visit, and I think that you, too, will fall into the rhythm of the Paris vibe.

 

The itinerary for this trip includes some of my favorite monuments and museums, and the upcoming posts  include a few sites that might not otherwise make the cut on your next visit.

 

 

They’ll include a Sunday afternoon at the Luxembourg Gardens, a morning walk through historically bohemian Montmartre, a day in Reims and the champagne country, a country drive among the castles of the Loire Valley, and a visit to Paris’s stunning Grand Mosque.

Paris Street Scenes 012

Seine River bridge, Paris

Paris Restaurants Cafes 010 Allard

Restaurant Allard, ParisI’ve decided to base in Paris, venturing out on occasional day trips.

 

I’ve decided to forego a hotel room for a walk-up studio with loft bedroom, just a block from the intersection of the Boulevards Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain.

Paris Street Scenes 017

Eiffel Tower & Les Invalides, Paris

 

It’s within walking distance of many major sights and restaurants, and the nearby Metro and R.E.R. stations put it in easy reach of just about everywhere else.

By my third day I’ve become enough a part of the neighborhood that the barista at the  kiosk across the street has my “regular” drink working before I even stepped off the curb.

Come along on this visit, and I think that you, too, will be caught up in the Paris vibe.

See my related posts:

7 Leguas tequila distillery, Atontonillco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico

7 Leguas tequila distillery, Atontonillco El Alto, Jalisco, Mexico

The Siete Leguas tequila distillery is located in Atotonilco El Alto, about two hours’ drive east of Guadalajara, and this family-owned distillery drips with tradition and pride.

 

Although most well-known tequila brands are now owned by multinational corporations, more than 100 distilleries still make nearly 1,000 brands of tequila, ranging from including boutique brands and others available only domestically.

 

Atontonilco El Alto, Jalisco

Atontonilco El Alto, Jalisco

Tequila has a long history.  The Aztecs fermented beverage called pulque from the agave plant long before the Spanish arrived, and when the conquistadors ran out of brandy they began to distill agave.   Today’s tequilas are typically 75-80 proof.

Agave plant window detail, 7 Leguas distillery

Agave plant window detail, 7 Leguas distillery

By law, tequila can only be produced only in the state of Jalisco, where it’s so popular that it often accounts for half of liquor store shelf space.

Just as with wines, regulators police tequila’s Appellation of Origin label to assure the purity of the product.

Harvested agave piñas are oven-baked

Harvested agave piñas are oven-baked

 

More than 300 million plants are harvested in Jalisco each year, and also as with wine, terroir is critically important.

 

Baked agave  ready for  further processing

Baked agave ready for further processing

 

Agaves from the highlands are larger and have a sweeter aroma and taste than lowland agaves, which have a slightly herbal fragrance and flavor.

Plants grown in the highlands typically yield sweeter and fruitier-tasting tequila, while lowland agaves produce tequilas with an earthier flavor.

Baked piñas are milled the old-fashioned way

Baked piñas are milled the old-fashioned way

Antique engine on display

Antique engine on display

Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort that relies upon know-how passed on through generations of the jimadores who harvest it.

Modern piña mill

Modern piña mill

Ripening of the plant is promoted by regular trimming of the stalk which grows from the center, which prevents it from flowering.

When plant is ready to harvest, jimadores trim away the leaves to reveal the  pineapple-like core of the plant – the piña, which can weigh up to 250 pounds.

Shredded piñas are loaded into distillery vats

Shredded piñas are loaded into distillery vats

Once harvested, piñas are oven-baked to break complex starches down into simple sugars before shredding or mashing.

Distillation vats

Distillation vats

Extracted agave juice ferments for several days in large vats to produce a low-alcohol wort, which when twice-distilled produces silver tequila.

Aged in oak barrels

Aged in oak barrels

Some tequilas are aged in wooden barrels to mellow the taste and lend color.  In recent years, regulators allowed the creation of a new tequila category called “extra añejo,” which must be aged a minimum of three years.

Distillation vat

Distillation vat

Many growers believe that increasingly hot and dry summers resulting from calentamiento – global warming – are causing agave to mature more quickly, at the expense of sugar content.  It typically takes eight to twelve years before an agave plant is ready to harvest.

Now it’s on to the tasting!

Note:  While 7 Leguas maintains an office within the city, the distillery is located on the outskirts of town nearer to the agave fields. 

Visit the web site here.

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

What has to be the largest Mexican flag in all of Mexico waves over Dolores Hidalgo.  It’s visible from the mountain road long before the city appears, and it’s a beacon which flies there for good reason.

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

The town – to which the name of Mexican patriot Father Miguel Hidalgo is now affixed – is where Hidalgo uttered the Grito – his famous cry for Mexican independence – on September 16, 1810.

Within a year, his rebellion’s early successes were reversed and his head was impaled on a spike upon the ramparts of the Alhondigas in Guanajuato, where his army achieved its first major victory.

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

It would take ten more years for Mexico to free itself from the Spanish crown, but every year on September 16, the Grito is re-enacted in the city’s historic central plaza – the zócalo - as in thousands of cities across Mexico.

But Dolores Hidalgo’s role in the Mexico’s War of Independence is only one of the good reasons that the city has been named one of Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos” – Magical Towns.

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and statue of Father Hidalgo, Dolores Hidalgo zócalo

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and statue of Father Hidalgo, Dolores Hidalgo zócalo

The center of Dolores Hidalgo is the zócalo, and it’s dominated by a statue of Father Hidalgo and by his historic church, the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores.

As I walk the plaza, I check out a church facade done in the ornate Spanish Baroque “Churrigueresque” style and bearing intricately carved figures.

Street food, Dolores Hidalgo

Street food, Dolores Hidalgo

 

History buffs will enjoy the nearby Museo de la Independencia, in which are displayed artifacts of the war of independence.

Ice cream flavors, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Ice cream flavors, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

 

Until I visited Dolores Hidalgo, I thought that Michoacán was the epicenter of Mexican ice cream, but a walk around the zócalo – where homemade ice cream is sold daily from the many push carts -  quickly convinced me otherwise.

Ice cream vendor, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Ice cream vendor, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Nowhere but the at the State Fair of Texas annual Fried Food Contest – known for its improbable ingredients –  have I tasted so many quirky (yet all very tasty) flavors.

Chili ice cream, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

Chili ice cream, Zócalo, Dolores Hidalgo

On my visit, featured flavors ranged from the traditional fruits and nuts and chocolate to the truly exotic and even bizarre.  But who wants vanilla, chocolate or strawberry when you can have mango or papaya?  Perhaps avocado or corn?  Fried pork skins, chile, or mole?  Shrimp or octopus?  Or maybe cerveza, tequila, or pulque?

Ice cream made to order, Dolores Hidalgo

Ice cream made to order, Dolores Hidalgo

Vendors are constantly competing to come up with the next new flavor, so it’s an experience constantly re-invented.

Today, Dolores Hidalgo it is widely renowned for its ceramics, the production of which directly or indirectly employs more than half of the city’s workers.  It was Father Hidalgo who introduced Talavera pottery techniques from Puebla to the people of Dolores Hidalgo.

Ceramics workshop. Dolores Hidalgo

Ceramics workshop. Dolores Hidalgo

Since 1997, only ceramics from Puebla can be designated as “talavera,” but the Puebla techniques are still practiced here, as they have been for three centuries.

 

Ceramics artisans, Dolores Hidalgo

Ceramics artisans, Dolores Hidalgo

While Dolores Hidalgo is one of the main producers of majolica glazed tiles, its workshops produce a staggering array of ceramics including dinnerware, vases, pots and jars, mosaics, bathtubs, bathroom sinks, and soap dishes, and even light switch covers and bird baths.

Ceramics workshop. Dolores Hidalgo

Ceramics workshop. Dolores Hidalgo

There are plenty of shops selling ceramics on the side streets just off the zócalo, but it’s far more interesting to visit one of the workshops that line the approach to town.  There visitors can walk among the artisans as they work, which is a real treat, since everything is made and decorated by hand.

Because Dolores Hidalgo is not a major international tourist destination, it retains much of its colonial charm and all of its Mexican authenticity.  No visit to Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, or Queretaro is complete without including this side trip.

Also in the state of Guanajuato and just down the road from Dolores Hidalgo is a mystical world heritage site that’s the subject of my next post.

Read my other related posts:

Cleveland’s Lakeview Cemetery

Euclid Avenue gate, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Euclid Avenue gate, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

If Cleveland’s architecture provides insight into its history, its magnificent Lakeview Cemetery yields insights into the dreams, accomplishments, and tragedies of its people.

Modeled after the great garden cemeteries of Victorian era England and France and opened in 1869, it is the  permanent resting place of more than 100,000 Clevelanders.

Cleveland skyline from heights above Lakeview Cemetery

Cleveland skyline from heights above Lakeview Cemetery

 

Nearly 1,000 permanent residents are added  each year and a quarter of the 285 acres are yet undeveloped.

Many of the immigrant stonemasons who landscaped the cemetery and carved its monuments lived in adjacent Little Italy.

Gravesite statuary, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Gravesite statuary, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

One of the more poignant memorials is to the nearly two hundred children killed in the Collinwood school fire of 1908.

The cemetery is the final resting place of twentieth century notables, as well as of some of historical footnote interest.

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

James A. Garfield, twentieth President of the U.S., is the most well-known of the statesmen buried here, which also include U.S. Senator and Republican Party kingmaker Mark Hanna, U. S. Secretary of State John Hay, and Newton D. Baker, World War I Secretary of War.

Oil baron John D. Rockefeller is also buried here.

Garfield, a former Civil War general, college president, and Congressman, became the Republicans’ dark horse nominee on the 36th ballot and won the election by only 10,000 votes.

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Only four months after his inauguration in 1881, he was shot by a disappointed officer seeker in Washington’s railroad station and lingered for two months before he died.

His monument is an imposing sandstone structure that combines Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine styles of architecture, and stands 180 feet tall.

On a clear day, visitors can see up to forty miles of Lake Erie shore from its balcony.

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Garfield Monument, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

 

Garfield’s life and death are depicted in five terra cotta panels, and more than 100 life size statues.  The Memorial Hall is done in gold mosaics, colored marble, stained glass windows and red granite columns.

Cleveland Indians short stop Ray Chapman, killed when struck in the head by a pitch in 1920, is buried here.  He is one of only two MLB players to die of a head injury sustained on the playing field during a game.

Lakeview is also the burial site of pioneer rock ‘n’ roll DJ Alan “Moondog” Freed.

 

Gravesite statuary, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Gravesite statuary, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Some of those buried here are not themselves well-known, but have made widely-known contributions from the profound to the lighthearted.  Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask and the three-colored traffic light .  James Salisbury invented… the Salisbury steak.

The ashes of Untouchables detective Eliot Ness, Cleveland’s Director of Public Safety from 1935-42, are scattered here.  So are the ashes of comic book writer Harvey Pekar, known for his groundbreaking series American Splendor.

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

The cemetery’s Wade Chapel is a must-see.  Built in memory of Western Union founder Jeptha Wade, it contains one of the few surviving interiors totally designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Massive bronze doors set into the Neo-Classical style exterior open on a chapel dominated by Tiffany’s stunning stained glass window.

Its brilliant colors are at once opalescent, iridescent, and translucent.

 

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

 

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland

 

A mosaic on the Chapel’s west wall symbolizes prophecy and the law of the Old Testament.

 

The mosaic on the east wall symbolizes the fulfillment of the Prophets’ laws by Christianity.

 

Both were constructed in the Tiffany Studios in New York and re-assembled on site.

Gravesite statue "Angel of Death Victorious" by sculptor Herman Matzen.

Gravesite statue “Angel of Death Victorious” by sculptor Herman Matzen.

Also check out the smaller but well known memorial, “Angel of Death Victorious”  at the gravesite of the Haserot family, created by sculptor Herman Matzen.

 

See my related post on La Recoleta (one of National Geographic Top 10 cemeteries) in my post Links to a Buenos Aires past.  

See also my related Cleveland posts:

Both Cleveland and its Public Square, along with Cleveland’s Little Italy, figure prominently in my recently published novel Lifelines: An American Dream, available on Amazon.

Cleveland’s river roots

View of "The Flats" from the Terminal Tower.

View of “The Flats” from the Terminal Tower.

The magnificent buildings of Cleveland’s historic downtown reflect commercial activity that was once a feature of its riverfront.

 

For nearly a century, Cleveland’s location on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River made it one of the nation’s premier commercial hubs.

 

 

The Warehouse District sits on the East Bank bluffs above the river.

The historic Warehouse District sits on the East Bank bluffs above the river.

 

The river has carved its bed through the bluffs on which the city is perched.

 

The low-lying area along its banks has long been known as “The Flats”.

 

In the 1820′s, Cleveland was first connected to the Ohio River by a canal which was the region’s primary commercial traffic route until railroads replaced it in the 1860′s.

 

 

In the years following, Cleveland grew into a major rail hub.  The New York Central, Erie, and Nickel Plate railroads all connected here.

View of Downtown Cleveland from the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River.

View of Downtown Cleveland from the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River.

 

Today, parts of the canal are preserved under park service stewardship, and a restoration of its towpath has created jogging and bike trails.

 

The river’s water quality and fish populations have improved every year since 1970.

 

Lake freighters carrying Mesabi Range iron ore south and railroads carrying West Virginia coal north converged in Cleveland to fuel one of the nation’s largest steel-making centers.

Refineries and steel mills have been replaced by cultural and entertainment venues.

Refineries and steel mills have been replaced by cultural and entertainment venues.

 

In The Flats, the smelters and rolling mills of U.S. Steel, Republic. Bethlehem and Jones & Laughlin along both sides of the river became the pillar of the city’s economy, as well as a major source of river pollution.

 

On the East Bank, the refineries of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company leaked oil into the river for decades.

 

 

The Cuyahoga River has caught fire more than a dozen times since 1840.  The last fire  was in 1969, and the story which appeared in TIME magazine was a wake-up call both for Cleveland and the nation.

West Side public market and clocktower.

West Side public market and clocktower.

 

Beginning in the late 1960′s, the migration of steel-making to China and Europe triggered massive layoffs and plant closings, leaving The Flats populated by decaying buildings and the river plagued by persistent pollution.

West Side Market clocktower

West Side Market clocktower

In the mid-1980s, the Flats saw a resurgence as warehouses and other historic buildings were converted into nightlife destinations.

 

Cleveland's West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market

 

The Flats became an entertainment mecca for the region

By the early 1990s, The Flats had the highest concentration of bars in the Midwest, but its heyday was short-lived.

Cleveland's West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market

Current plans call for a new mixed-use development on the East Bank that aims to create a new downtown riverfront neighborhood.

Rivergate Park, a public park devoted to rowing, canoeing, kayaking and dragon-boating, officially opened May 2011.

The West Bank has fared better.  Many older establishments still remain open, and new housing and retail venues like the Steelyard Commons have breathed fresh life into this neighborhood

The Powerhouse, which once generated power for the city’s streetcars, has been renovated to include multiple bars, restaurants, and an outdoor music venue.  A National Historic Landmark, it is also home to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

Cleveland's West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market

The story of Cleveland is the story of immigrants.

 

In the 1820′s, the West Bank was home to the heavily Irish immigrant workforce that built the Ohio and Erie Canal in the 1820′s.

 

In the twentieth century, the neighborhood was a center for the city’s Eastern European immigrants.

 

(The West Side’s St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral was the location of the wedding scene in the movie The Deerhunter.)

Cleveland's West Side Market

Cleveland’s West Side Market

 

The West Side Market has been there through it all.

 

Opened in 1840 at the corner of West 25th and Lorain, it is Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market.

 

It was first operated as an open air market, and the current structure dates from 1912.

 

Today it is home to more than one hundred vendors selling fine meats and produce, fresh seafood, baked goods, dairy and cheese products, and even fresh flowers.

Cleveland's West Side Market Cafe

Cleveland’s West Side Market Cafe

Many booths also sell ready-to-eat foods, and products often reflect Cleveland’s melting pot history.  More than a million people visit the market annually.

The next post wraps up my visit to Cleveland with a walk through the city’s historic and scenic Lakeview Cemetery.

 

Many of the places picture in these posts figure prominently in my recently published novel Lifelines: An American Dream, available on Amazon.

See my related posts on Cleveland:

See also more public markets in my related posts:

Cleveland’s historic architecture

The Arcade, Cleveland

The Arcade, Cleveland

A city’s architecture is like tree rings that tell its life story.    Cleveland’s industrial decline in the last part of the twentieth century left much of the city’s architectural legacy intact, and its buildings now stand as a living timeline.

The Arcade, Cleveland

The Arcade, Cleveland

One of the most notable examples is Cleveland’s Arcade, which opened its doors in 1890 to become one of the nation’s first indoor shopping centers.

Modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano, Italy, the exterior is done in the Romanesque Revival style, and the interior in the Victorian style.

The Arcade, Cleveland

The Arcade, Cleveland

 

Once known as Cleveland’s Crystal Palace, The Arcade connects five stories of galleries to two ten story towers.

Along its indoor balconies were boutique shops and restaurants.  It was, in 1973, among the first buildings to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A partnership with Hyatt Hotels rescued the Arcade from the wrecking ball with a restoration completed in 2001, and today Cleveland’s Hyatt Regency occupies the twin towers and top three levels of the atrium.

The Arcade’s two entrances connect Euclid and Superior Avenues at 14th Street.   The lower two levels remain open to the public.

Cleveland Trust Building

Cleveland Trust Building

 

 

By 1924, the Cleveland Trust Company, was the nation’s sixth largest bank.

 

Like many Cleveland buildings constructed early in the century, its home office reflects the neo-classical influence of Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition…. the “White City.”

Cleveland Trust Building facade detail

Cleveland Trust Building facade detail

 

 

 

It’s not surprising that the muralist who did much of the work on the Columbian Exposition was chosen to paint its interior murals.  The building was completed in 1908.

Rockefeller Building, Cleveland

Rockefeller Building, Cleveland

John D. Rockefeller lived in Cleveland for thirty-five years, and founded his Standard Oil Company there.  His seventeen-story Rockefeller Building, completed in 1905, was designed in Chicago’s “Sullivanesque” style.

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Cleveland’s zenith as an industrial powerhouse in the years between the World Wars fueled a building boom which defined a clear break from the city’s past and made Deco a major architectural feature of its central business district.

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Art Deco architecture first appeared in France after World War I and became internationally popular from the 1920s until shortly after World War II.

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

It’s a style that  integrates craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials, employing rich colors, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

Art Deco was a reflection of luxury and glamour, and the nation’s exuberance and faith in social and technological progress.

 

Playhouse Square, Cleveland

Playhouse Square, Cleveland

Playhouse Square is a row of five Euclid Avenue theaters built in the early 1920s.

These temples to the golden age of Hollywood are done in decorative themes that would do any Las Vegas casino proud.  Playhouse Square was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The Ohio and State Theaters – both in the Italianate style – the Allen with its Pompeiian motif Allen, the Classical Hanna, and the French Renaissance Palace theaters have a combined total of over 10,000 seats,  making Playhouse Square the largest performing arts center in the U.S. outside of New York City.

 

Playhouse Square, Cleveland

Playhouse Square, Cleveland

These theaters presented serious theater, vaudeville shows, and movies for nearly half a century,.

The growth of the suburbs and the rise of TV led to their decline in the years after World War II, and by July 1969, all but one of the theaters had closed.

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Art Deco facade, Cleveland

Plans to raze the vacant theaters in the ’70′s caused a public outcry, and public-private partnerships raised $40 million for the Square’s renovation.

Most of the work was completed between 1979-1988.

In 1978, Playhouse Square became one of nearly 400 Cleveland area sites named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Euclid Corridor Transportation Project, which connects Public Square to the Cleveland Clinic, opened its Playhouse Square station in 2008.

So far I’ve not ventured more than ten blocks from Cleveland’s Public Square, so there’s still plenty more to see here.

Still to come: An exploration of  Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River roots and the stunning monuments of its Lakeview Cemetery.

See my related Cleveland posts:

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