Yes, THAT Santa Anna. The one who inspired the classic phrase, “Remember the Alamo”. The one who, when he lost a foot and part of his leg in battle, gave it an elaborate military funeral.
Fun fact for those of you planning a trip to Springfield, Illinois. After his foot’s funeral, Santa Anna had a cork prosthetic leg made. That very leg was captured during the Mexican-American War and is currently on display in the Illinois military museum. If you are anything like me, you are probably wondering just HOW Santa Anna’s leg happened to be separated from his body. Well, thanks to wikipedia, I can tell you, and the truth isn’t anyway NEAR as interesting as what my mind conjured up. From the military museum’s website:
In 1847, Illinois soldiers “came upon General Santa Anna’s abandoned carriage and found gold worth $18,000, a roast chicken lunch, and his artificial leg. They turned in the gold, ate the chicken and kept the artificial leg as a souvenir.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, it just so happens that Santa Anna and I have something in common. No, I do not have an artificial leg on display in a museum. At least not yet. We BOTH have slept at the Hotel Hidalgo. But just to be clear, not at the same time.
Built in 1825, the Hidalgo Hotel was the first, and by definition, the best, hotel in Querétaro. During the war, “the refinement of the hotel made it a favorite choice” for Santa Anna. His stay ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe, “which gave more than half of Mexico’s territory to the USA.” (Actually, they didn’t GIVE it to us; we paid $15 million for it. More expensive than Manhattan or Seward’s ice box? I’ll let you be the judge.)
How do I know all this? I’d like to be able to claim that my attentiveness in history class and my truly amazing memory are responsible, but anyone that knows me would never swallow THAT tall tale. Nope, the source of my hotel knowledge came from this mural in its entry.
As one might expect of a hotel almost 200 years old, it has its quirks. For example, the size of the showers would lead you to believe that they were not a common feature back then.
As with people, each room has its strengths and drawbacks. But with the right attitude, these quirks can become rather endearing. Plus, the staff is wonderful, the rooms are very clean, it costs less than $40 per night, and the location is absolutely ideal.
If, however, you prefer to sleep in a convent, or in the house of a dead Marquesa, those options are also available. Those of you who have been reading along may recall the snarky comment I made a while back about La Casa de la Marquesa probably paying Google to show up on its maps. Little did I know that the Casa, like the Hotel Hidalgo, is a historical site with its very own legend. And you, dear reader, will soon read all about it.
It seems that Don Juan Antonio, the Marques, although a married man, had a yen for a nun, Sister Marcella Nasturtium. The good sister, despite remaining true to her vow of chastity, was still able to persuade the Marques to build an aqueduct to bring fresh water into the city, and to build the most beautiful house in Querétaro, which he then gave to his wife.
One more hotel story then I’ll end this post. It seems that being a nun in the days of old was not a bad gig, if you managed to be born to the right family. One rich man built a convent for his daughter that was the grandest in a city filled with grand convents. The Convent of Santa Clara had its own orchards and gardens, and the rents it collected allowed the nuns to live in private houses with their own servants. Wow.
And to think that YOU could sleep in ANY of these buildings! Is this not a cool city?!!