Santa Rosalía + Mulegé, Baja California Sur – The Eiffel church

The area around Santa Rosalía is not exactly the most attractive place Baja California has to offer, because copper, cobalt and zinc mining left remarkable scars. On the other hand this pretty and very pleasant town has the French mining company El Boleo to thank for its existence. The company started to mine copper in the end of the 19th century. One can see the French legacy still today. It is the only place on the peninsula that shows French instead of Spanish colonial architecture.

The town’s church is a beautiful simple construction nearly completely made from riveted, white painted metal, which has an exciting history to show. It shall be designed by famous tower architect Gustave Eiffel for the African overseas colonies, exhibited during the World Expo 1889 in Paris, and forgotten in a warehouse in Brussels. An El Boleo manager rediscovered the church and shipped it to Mexico. But in the 1990s doubts arouse regarding the origin of the Iglesia Santa Bárbara de Santa Rosalía that could never be dispelled completely.

One more French relic survived: The bakery Panadería El Boleo produces since 1901 baguette, bread as well as Mexican and French pastries. Old melting pots and mining equipment across the harbour make some nice pictures. 60 km south is Mulegé, completely Spanish again, with one of Baja’s oldest missions. Its style is simple and massive, maybe not that elegant, but impressive anyway. From the hill where the church is located we have an excellent view to green Mulegé River and the town. The river flows into the sea at Playa El Sombrerito that’s a good place to spot marine birds.

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