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The Mummies of Guanajuato

The Mummies Museum in Guanajuato is one of the most famous atraction in the city. The Museum has 111 mummified corps that where exhumed between 1865 and 1889.

The worshipping of death in Mexico is something that always arouses a lot of curiosity among foreign tourists. Outside of the Mexican borders probably the most famous festival is that of “Día de Muertos” (Day of the Dead). It is a pagan festival which, like many others, has been mixed with the Christian tradition brought over from Spain, the “Día de Difuntos” (Day of the Deceased).

The Día de Difuntos in Spain is a day of sadness and remembrance of loved ones, where one visits the cemetery and leaves and leaves flowers on the tomb of ancestors, all in a very solemn manner.

But in Mexico it is more like a party. Families meet up to remember their loved ones, they eat, drink, and make skull-shaped sweets, and on the forehead of these they write the name of the deceased, or even of someone at the party.

It is not unusual therefore that “Las Momias de Guanajuato" generate curiosity and interest in other Mexican towns, since they also put on exhibitions in a museum dedicated to them. They are bodies of human beings that appear mummified by a natural process due to the local conditions of Guanajuato.

The museum has 111 corpses that were exhumed between 1865 and 1889 from the various crypts of the churches in the city. They are corpses that were buried during the cholera epidemic in 1883. The bodies were buried quickly to stop the disease spreading further, and in some cases the person had not even died, but being in a comatose state, they had been buried alive. The person would wake up underground and die soon after from suffocation because of the early burial. For this reason we can see the expressions of distress and pain on some of the mummified faces.

Since the corpses were buried so quickly there was not time for the process of putrefaction, and combined with the dry air of the city and the specific characteristics of the earth in Guanajuato, gave way to the process of mummification.

The first mummified corpse put on public display was that of Doctor Remigio Leeroy in 1965, and which is still there today. Nowadays the mummies are displayed in a crypt situated near the place where they were buried, which many researchers now visit to study this rare phenomenon.

Probably the most visited part is a macabre room, 15m in length, in which two long lines of mummies are displayed behind two panes of glass, which form a path that the visitor must walk along.

This morbid museum is one of the many attractions that the city of Guanajuato has to offer to a student of Spanish. It is a way of introducing us to the Mexican spirit, to see its spirituality and the attraction of the worship of death as a form of liberation, and why not? It helps us to face up to our own mortality.

If you visit Guanajuato, don´t forget to come to this museum… It will be an experience you won´t forget!