Yucatan’s Government Palace reflects the state’s political history

127 years old this week, Yucatan’s current Government Palace was erected in the state capital as the emblematic physical symbol of state power in 1892.

During the Colonial period, in the early 1500s, the first structure of what was known as the “Royal House” presented a Moorish style, with Islamic influence. The power of the colonizers was consolidated in the building set in the block which is bordered today by the streets 60, 61, 62 and 59.

The building had two facades, one on 61st Street and the other on 60th, in what was called at the time, “Jesus Street”. It took the name of “Royal House” because the governors lived there, as well as the top military officials of the Province, with their families.

The original Government Palace featured only one story, and in the times of Esteban de Azcárraga, from 1645 to 1648, it was endowed with extensive masonry galleries.

A short time later began several modifications. The first was initiated by the martial governor, Carlos de Luna y Arellano, whose mandate lasted seven years. He erected the public jail in what is now the main square of the entity.

The second modification was made by Antonio de Figueroa, who ordered the construction of a spacious interior gallery, and the third modification was made during rule by the Marquis de Santo Floro, with an exterior gallery, overlooking the Plaza Grande.

In 1821, after the Province of Yucatan became independent from Spain, the name “Government Palace” was coined, and it was decorated with luxury chandeliers and furniture. At the fall of Maximilian’s empire in 1867, General Manuel Cepeda Peraza assumed power. He died on March 3, 1869, and his funeral took place in the “Great Hall of Acts” of the Government Palace.

In 1879, during the government of Manuel Romero Ancona, building a new Government Palace was proposed, to meet the needs of the growing state.

Engineer Olegario G Cantón was in charge of the design of the Government Palace, and a model was exhibited in September of that year.  Building costs of 60,375 pesos were authorized, which today would represent more than 60 million pesos (about $3 million USD).

The demolition began on January 27, 1883 under the permission of the governor, Octavio Rosado, and the cornerstone was laid on April 2 of that year.

The building as we know it today had two floors, and 187 thousand pesos were invested, which today would represent more than 187 million pesos (about $9 million USD).

The Government Palace has 15 enclosed rooms of different sizes, some of them considered true salons like “La Historia”. The stairways are considered the most beautiful parts of the construction. In its first section Ticul stone was used, from the “Las Candelarias” quarries, and the two upper flights are from Texas stone, in color similar to the Ticul stone.

The building features 125 doors of beautifully carved cedar, a beautiful reception hall decorated with its respective balcony of honor.

Colonel Daniel Traconis was the first to celebrate the “cry of Independence” in the new building, marking 81 years of the independence of Mexico since the construction of the Government Palace.

President Adolfo López Mateos presented the replica of the Bell of Dolores, between 1958 and 1964, which is now placed in front of the upper part of the building. There also is found the emblem of the National Shield in a huge medallion of 1892.

The building has 26 paintings on galvanized sheet treated with special methods to prevent oxidation, authored by the painter, Fernando Castro Pacheco.

Among the paintings are the series “Social Evolution of Man in Yucatan”, and “Cosmogonía Maya”, as well as those that adorn the murals of the building.

Text: Iván Duarte
Photo: Amílcar Rodríguez

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