Celaya is a small city located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. It’s strategically situated in the heart of the country, making it easily accessible from major Mexican cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Celaya is located in the center of the municipality, which has an area extent of 553 sq km and includes many smaller outlying communities, the largest of which are San Miguel Octopan, Rincón de Tamayo, and San Juan de la Vega.
Celaya is an important transportation hub, allowing visitors to explore the state of Guanajuato.
Celaya is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by rolling hills. The city lies at an elevation of approximately 1,750 m above sea level. The terrain is primarily flat, which makes it suitable for agriculture.
The region is known for its fertile soil, making it an agricultural hotspot, with fields of corn, sorghum, and sugarcane stretching as far as the eye can see. You’ll also find orchards bearing fruits like apples, peaches, and strawberries.
The city itself is a blend of modernity and tradition, featuring a mix of colonial-era architecture and contemporary infrastructure. The local culture is rich, with traditional festivals and events celebrating Celaya’s heritage.
- General Álvaro Obregón defeated Pancho Villa in the Battle of Celaya, in 1915.
- Celaya was also the Guanajuato state capital for a short period.
- Celaya is also famous for the artisanal production of cajeta, a type of milk candy
- Celaya was a frontier region between the Purépecha and the Chichimecas.
Celaya has a temperate climate, with warm to hot temperatures during the day and cooler nights.
Spring (March to May): Spring is an ideal time to visit Celaya when temperatures are mild, ranging from 18°C to 28°C. The landscape comes alive with vibrant blooms, and outdoor activities are enjoyable.
Summer (June to August): Summers in Celaya can get quite warm, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 33°C. Expect occasional afternoon showers, which help maintain the lush greenery of the region.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn brings cooler temperatures, ranging from 16°C to 27°C. The city’s parks and gardens offer a colorful display of falling leaves, making it a pleasant time for nature lovers.
Winter (December to February): Winters in Celaya are relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 24°C. While it can get cooler at night, it rarely dips below freezing. This time is great for exploring the region.
The best time to visit Celaya
The best time to visit Celaya largely depends on your preferences.
- If you enjoy milder temperatures and colorful landscapes, spring and autumn are the ideal seasons.
- For those who don’t mind warmer weather and occasional showers, summer offers a unique charm.
- Winter is suitable for those seeking a respite from extreme cold, with pleasant days for exploring the city.
The first settlers of the region were small groups of Otomíes and some Chichimecas, in the old mosque (the Mezquital de Apaseo), where the town of Spaniards presumed Basque ancestry would later settle.
The original name of Celaya was Nat-tahí, Nat-ta-í, Natthahí, or Natthaí, in the Otomí language meant El Mezquite or Place of Mezquites.
With the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent conquest of the Central Table, where the Bajío is located, the primitive balance in its multiple variants was altered, starting with the names of many things.
Nattahí descended to a supplementary native reference when its name was replaced.
The extensive huizacheras (“sweet acacia”) extended to the south Zalaya, which in Spanish Basque means “flat land”. The new name, alluding to the topography (like the previous one), was accurate and appropriate.
Still on February 3, 1574, the name of this place is recorded as Selaya del Mezquital.
Zalaya, with z, and Selaya, with s, without other versions that were also tried at the time spreading very fortunately among the bulk of the population, since it was also written: Zalalla, Zelaia, and Zelaída.
Back at the dawn of the 18th century, the town earned the poetic nickname of La Puerta de Oro del Bajío.
- Celaya’s history begins with the Spanish exploration and conquest of the region.
- Early settlements like Apaseo and Acámbaro were established to serve travelers in the region.
- Constant attacks by indigenous people led to the establishment of a garrison for protection.
The Founding of Celaya
- Despite the garrison, an indigenous settlement called Nat-Tha-Hi remained, and its location made it suitable for further settlement.
- Attacks on travelers carrying precious metals prompted Viceroy Martín Enríquez de Almansa to organize defenses.
- A group of Basque ranchers approached the garrison to request the founding of a town for protection and evangelization.
- Francisco Sandi was commissioned to facilitate the town’s founding, and the first council was established on January 1, 1571.
- The city’s center was established around the large San Francisco convent, with Royal Houses in the Plaza de Armas.
- Surrounding haciendas became significant producers of crops for mining cities.
- Franciscan missionaries played a vital role in the city’s development, establishing various institutions, churches, and public spaces.
Becoming a City
- Celaya gained the title of “Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad” in 1655 but received official confirmation in 1658.
- Jesuits arrived in 1719, bringing education and contributing to the city’s development.
- In 1864, Emperor Maximilian visited Celaya, and the city celebrated his presence.
- During the French Intervention, Celaya’s troops played a role in resisting the invaders.
- The city saw significant development with the introduction of the railway, electricity, and telegraph.
- The city’s industry grew with the establishment of alcohol and corn-derived products factories.
- Celaya initially remained cautious during the Mexican Revolution but eventually became a focal point of the conflict.
- Key events included the entry of Francisco I. Madero and battles between different revolutionary factions.
- The Battle of Celaya in 1915 was a significant conflict, with Obregón’s forces emerging victorious.
The Ball of Water reservoir has been a city icon since 1908; it continues to supply water to portions of downtown.
The tank was manufactured in Germany and assembled on site, and is unique in being assembled using rivets rather than welds.
It is believed to be the only one of its kind with a spherical shape (it is rumored that there was another similar water ball in Stuttgart, Germany that was destroyed during the Second World War).
Traditionally, locals tell visitors that it is filled with cajeta, taking them to visit the “Bola del Agua” on Sundays, the traditional day for visiting the Independencia Lane.
A plaque at the base of the water tower features the legend (in Spanish):
“This tower was built at the expense of the city municipality in 1910 and officially opened on 15 September, the day of the anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of Mexico as a state governor Mr. Don Joaquín González Obregón, who gave full moral support to the construction.’s work and everything related to the provision of drinking water, was designed and conducted by the district political head Mr. Don Perfecto I. Aranda, its total cost, including piping limited to two circuits, was $ 161,520.84 (Mexican old) pesos”.
The work was carried out under the command of German Enrique Schöndube, although it is known that payment for the construction took ten years due to the start of the Mexican Revolution, so it was paid once the new government was established.
During the Mexican Revolution, Villa’s officers thought the hydraulic tower had such a large amount of water that destroying it would drown the population of Celaya. One of Villa’s generals ordered his artillery to destroy it.
Captain Gustavo Duron, in charge of a 75mm battery, followed the orders but shot around the tower, avoiding it and protecting the monument, as mentioned by local historian Herminio Martínez.
The construction resulted in the neglect of the people handing out water at home from the mayor’s office called water carriers.
Commercial advertising on its surface was allowed for several years to cover the costs of the reservoir, ending on September 8, 1980, when, in celebration of the upcoming 410th Anniversary of the Foundation of Celaya, the mayor in charge decreed that the Ball of Water would be a symbol that would represent the city, and the placement of advertisements was banned.
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