Dolores Hidalgo, the cradle of the national independence of Mexico

Dolores Hidalgo is a civic sanctuary of Mexican nationalism.  It was there that Father Miguel Hidalgo spoke his famous cry for the independence of Mexico -the Grito de Dolores- on September 16, 1810.

The quiet town with a pretty, tree-filled plaza, a relaxed ambience and important history is located in picturesque Guanajuato State right in the centre of the country.  

In 2002, Dolores Hidalgo became a part of Pueblos Magicos -small towns highlighted by the Mexican government’s official Pueblo Magico Program for their “magical” qualities-, a very deserving honour. Its great weather, its wonderful food, and its world-famous pottery -Talavera de Dolores- do make it magical.

Before Mexico became independent, the city was a small town known simply as Dolores. In 1824 it was renamed in honour of one of Mexico’s most revered heroes.  

On the morning of the 16th, Miguel Hidalgo a Roman Catholic priest known as “Father of the Nation”,  rang the church bells and within moments he had an army of some 600 men.

“My Children, a new dispensation comes to us today…Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen 300 years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once.”

The Grito de Dolores was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence and an expression associated with the Mexican revolt against the Spanish for independence from colonial rule.

They fought at the siege of Guanajuato, Monte de las Cruces and a few other engagements before being defeated by General Félix Calleja at the Battle of Calderon Bridge in January of 1811. When Hidalgo was executed, there were already many in place to pick up his cause, most notably his former student José María Morelos.

The church where Hidalgo rang the bells, has two spires that frame a central clock tower of a colonial era. It is a famous landmark of Mexico’s Independence movement. 

The house where Miguel lived never lost its charm and in 1946 it was converted into a museum. A tour of the museum takes you through seven rooms and the yellow and terracotta patio, lined with wooden benches, with a well in the middle, which narrates the history of the building and the key moments in the struggle for Independence. Documents and historical objects which belonged to the revolutionaries fighting for freedom can be observed.

Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day with fireworks, food, flags, and decorations. In the public squares of most cities, towns, and villages, local politicians re-enact the Grito de Dolores, standing in for Hidalgo.  In Mexico City, the President traditionally re-enacts the Grito before ringing a bell: the very bell from the town of Dolores rung by Hidalgo in 1810.

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