Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe, Puebla, Mexico

The forts of Loreto and Guadalupe are some old military buildings found in the city of Puebla. Originally it was chapels built on top of a hill Acueyametepec, which were reconstituted in the early nineteenth century as fortifications for military purposes. They served as the main stage both in the battle and at the Siege of Puebla, during the Second French Intervention in Mexico. Declared as Mexico’s historical heritage, they currently house site museums for what the Fort of San Loreto and Guadalupe became famous for.

The hermitages
The forts are located in the northeast area of ​​Puebla, on a hill known as Acueyametepec during the pre-Hispanic era. In the 16th century, Franciscan friars built a hermitage on the east side of the hill; Later, that building was expanded to a temple under the dedication of San Cristóbal, which finally came under the control of the Betlemite parents, which is why the area was known as Cerro de Belén. On the west face another temple was erected, to which the dedication of the Virgin of Loreto was assigned, while the original temple was dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Military use
In 1816, the Spanish mayor Ciriaco del Llano ordered the construction of stone walls with lime linings around the temples, with the aim of converting them into military positions to prevent attacks on Puebla by insurgent groups. The hermitages were used from then on as powder magazines. In the case of Loreto, due to the state of the hermitage, it was necessary to repair the walls, the ramps and the central building. In Guadalupe, the hermitage was demolished and underground parts were made for a vault and a cistern.

Between the forts there is a separation of 928 meters in a straight line. They are not large due to the characteristics of the terrain. In the case of Loreto, it has circular bastions and has no moat, while Guadalupe has only two small bastions and a relief that covered the entrance.

The struggles for Puebla
Due to its strategic importance, during the French intervention the forts served as the headquarters of the Army of the East and central point of the battles that were fought in Puebla. Due to their location and the defenses that were concentrated around them, the forts represented the “door” of Mexico: if they fell, the surrender of Puebla was inevitable and with it the free passage to Mexico City was opened. That is why the French forces attacked them in the first place during the battle of May 5, 1862, and the following year, strengthened and with a much larger contingent, they subjected them to a merciless bombardment until they were left in ruins.

The Battle of Puebla was a combat fought on May 5, 1862 in the vicinity of the city of Puebla, between the armies of the Mexican Republic, under the command of Ignacio Zaragoza, and the Second French Empire, led by Charles Ferdinand Latrille, Count of Lorencez, during the Second French Intervention in Mexico, the result of which was an important victory for the Mexicans since with forces considered as inferior they managed to defeat one of the most experienced and respected armies of their time. Despite its success, the battle did not prevent the invasion of the country, it only delayed it, however, it would be the first battle of a war that Mexico would finally win. The French would return the following year,

Finally, due to the inability to consolidate an empire and after losing 11,000 men due to guerrilla activity that never ceased to exist, 1 the French unconditionally withdrew from the country in 1867.

Battle of Puebla
The Battle of Puebla was a battle fought on 5 of maypole in 1862 near the city of Puebla, between the armies of the Mexican Republic, under the command of Ignacio Zaragoza, and the Second Empire, led by Charles Ferdinand Latrille, Count of Lorencez, during the Second French Intervention in Mexico, the result of which was an important victory for the Mexicans since with forces considered as inferior they managed to defeat one of the most experienced armies.

Despite its success, the battle did not prevent the invasion of the country, although it would be the first battle in a war that Mexico would eventually win. The French would return the following year, with which a second battle was fought in Puebla in which 35,000 French faced 29,000 Mexicans (a defense that lasted 62 days) and managed to advance to Mexico City, which allowed the establishment of the Second Mexican Empire. Finally, after losing 11,000 men due to guerrilla activity that never ceased to exist, The French unconditionally withdrew from the country in 1867 at the command of Emperor Napoleon III in the face of the threat of Prussia in Europe and the American threat to invade him if he did not withdraw from Mexico.

With the exception of the Grito de Dolores, the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla is the most significant date in the Mexican civic calendar, as it is one of the few victories against an invading foreign army. Symbolically, it represents the achievement of a great company by Mexicans, which can be achieved if divisions are forgotten and deficiencies are overcome, as evidenced by the fact that victory was achieved, with courage and dedication, despite that everything was against: numerical and material inferiority, morale diminished by the tragedy of Chalchicomula, and the sympathy of some sectors of the elites and the political classtowards the invaders.

May 5 is an endearing date for Mexicans; It is celebrated in the main cities of the country with parades and festivals. That day celebrations are taken across the country to young people serving National Military Service.

Historic sites
In 1930 the forts and the area surrounding the hill were declared property of the nation at the service of the people, and a War Museum was built in Loreto. In 1962, to mark the centenary of the battle, the museum was expanded and the park area was serviced. Currently, in the Historic Area of ​​Los Fuertes there is also a Regional Museum of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, the Auditorium of the Reformation and the Puebla House. In addition, on one side is the Puebla Exhibition Center and a monument where the remains of Ignacio Zaragoza and his wife Rafaela Padilla rest.

The Artillery:
Guns of 24, Spanish, in gun carriages of plaza and coast: 2 bronze and 0 iron.
Guns of 24, English, in gun carriages: 3 bronze and 0 iron.
Cannons of 12 in square gun carriages: or bronze and 3 iron.
8-gun cannons, battle: 2 bronze and 0 iron.
Cannons of 4, smooth, in battle guns: 2 bronze and 0 iron.
Guns of á 4, American, lined *: 1 bronze and 0 iron.
Howitzer of 15 c / m: 1 of bronze and 0 of iron.
Howitzer of 12 c / m: 2 of bronze and 0 of iron.
Mortars of 20 c / m: 2 of bronze and 0 of iron.

Total 18 artillery pieces; 15 bronze and 3 iron.
Some time later this cannon was sent as a gift to Paris by Marshal Forey to the Prince.

Museum
The importance of this Fort as such and in particular as a Museum lies in the fact that, as a Fort, in its surroundings and within it, various important historical events have taken place for Mexico, both in the 19th and 20th centuries, from independence to the revolution, going through the clashes between conservatives and liberals, before and during the War of the Reformation and the French Intervention.

As a Museum it has preserved for almost eighty years the national heritage, related to those struggles that we refer to in the previous paragraph.

History of the Museum
The Museum of the Fort of Loreto has its origin in the Museum of Warrior History, founded in 1936 by a group of citizens from Puebla concerned with the conservation of heritage, headed by Messrs. Carlos and Ángel Paz y Puente, leaving the latter as responsible. In March 1955 the government of the state of Puebla was in charge of its administration and in 1962 it passed into the hands of the INAH, thereafter being called the Museum of Non-Intervention, until this year of 2012 when it changed its name.

The collection that is currently exhibited in the museum is basically the one that Messrs. Paz and Puente collected to create the Museum of Warrior History, enriched with some other pieces of different origin. Other pieces on display are temporary loans from various museums, including the National History Museum, the Querétaro Regional Museum, the Santa Monica Museum in Puebla, etc.

Property
The Fort of Loreto has an extension of about fifteen hundred square meters. It is made up of a building divided into three parts: the chapel, the chaplain’s house and the military barracks. Around this building is an esplanade and surrounding it are four bastions or circular bastions. The Fort of Loreto in turn is surrounded by a moat that completely surrounds it.

Themes
This museum consists of a single floor and the permanent exhibition is divided into seven rooms, beginning with the one dedicated to the chapel of the Virgin of Loreto. It continues with a route that has as its central axis the role played by the Fort of Loreto in the different armed struggles that occurred in Mexico, from Independence to the Restoration of the Republic, without neglecting the representation of military architecture and some features of daily life in our country in certain periods of the 19th century.

Throughout the exhibition you will find portraits of heroes and events, plans, mannequins in uniforms, allegories of national sovereignty, weapons and cannons, as well as other representative elements of the history of the place. Three videos with additional information are also shown.

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