Loreto

Estela Davis

It is hard to find a town with greater magical qualities than Loreto. It is so because of its history, people and natural beauty. These attributes cannot be separated because they are so intricately tied together. To understand their magic, all we have to do is open our eyes and observe the natural environment. It will be possible to see the difficulties this town had to suffer since its establishment in 1697 and through the first third of the last century. It was a period when nature seemed intent on making the town disappear.

Loreto was California’s first permanent human settlement. It is located in the San Dionisio cove and was named by the Spaniards. The area was first explored in January 1684 by an expedition commanded by Admiral Isidro de Atondo and Antillon. Accompanying the expedition were the Jesuits Eusebio Francisco Kino, Matias Goñi and Juan Bautista Copart.

The San Dionisio cove, washed by the lapis lazuli sea, includes the islands of Coronado, Carmen, Danzantes, Montserrat, Galeras and Catalana. The islands complement the extraordinary circular landscape. In the center is Loreto. What could be a better place than that beautiful cove, like a half moon, to build this town!

So it was by the magic of chance that the conquerors arrived at San Dionisio on October 18, 1697. They explored along the coast and found a stream of fresh water with a grove of willows and reeds. Right there, they planted a cross adorned with flowers. Seven days later, on October 25th, the ceremony for the establishment of the Californias was held in the name of the Catholic king. A mass was held before a statue of the virgin and the miserable little camp was baptized. It would become the capital of the Californias with the name of Loreto.

According to oral tradition, the site was chosen because the mule that brought the statue of the virgin from the beach reached a certain point and stopped. It threw the statue from its back and refused to go any further even though it was pulled and punished. It was then the missionary deduced this was, without a doubt, the place chosen by the virgin for the construction of a church. How then can it be denied that Loreto has been magical from birth?

From then on, Loreto became an administrative center, port of landing, seat of the presidio or military garrison and, in 1698, capital of the Californias. In 1699, Father Francisco Maria Piccolo founded the mission of San Francisco Javier on a small plateau high in the Sierras.

 

At present, the Municipality of Loreto is the most recent of the municipal Sudcalifornian organizations (1992) that were formed into seven sub-delegations. The most important, as measured by the number of inhabitants, are the Colonia Zaragoza and San Javier. The second mission founded by the Jesuits is the most beautiful and best preserved of the 18 that were built.

Other points of magical beauty are the bays, including San Nicolas, San Basilio, San Bruno, El Mangle, Agua Verde, Juncalito, Tembabiche, Ligüi and Ensenada Blanca. Tourism developments are planned in some areas. In others, they already exist, such as Nopolo and Puerto Escondido.

Travelers find Loreto a beautiful, clean village paved in glistening cobblestone, planted with trees and flowers and with a modern illuminated boardwalk. Visible from any angle in the center of the urban landscape stands the silhouette of the mission dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto.

Everyone is pleasantly impressed upon arriving by the scenic landscape made up of the incomparable picture of “Sierra, Desert, Island and Sea.” The juxtaposed profiles of La Giganta, in whose foothills regional flora abounds, make their way to the capricious coast of the cove of San Dionisio.

Loreto is magical for its uniqueness and beauty. It is a small city located between the sea and islands that make up the Marine Park, a Natural Protected Area. As a result, the town offers universal appeal and increased tourism development.

In the area of Nopolo, new developments have transformed the urban landscape. Houses and an entire infrastructure of services have been built. Monuments have been rescued and restored. Not only in Loreto, but also in the jewel called San Javier. The temples and the Museum of the Missions, one of the most interesting and popular on the peninsula, are the pride of Sudcalifornia.

Explore all the amazing things because Loreto is a Magic Town.

The Magic Town program is developed by the Mexican Tourism Board in collaboration with various areas of government. The designation contributes to the pride of the country’s population by making the most of our collective history and offering original and unique alternatives to national and international visitors.

More than a rescue, it is a recognition of those who inhabit the beautiful places of Mexican geography and have worked to keep their cultural and historical wealth alive.

They are localities with symbols, legends, history, transcendent facts, daily life, and magical qualities that emanate from each of the socio-cultural manifestations. All of which translates into great opportunities for tourism.

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