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City and Municipality of Comayagua

Comayagua is a municipality in the department of Comayagua in Honduras.

Comayagua is a Honduran city, capital of the homonymous department (Department of Comayagua) that corresponds to one of the eighteen departments of the country.

The city is located in the valley also of the same name, located in the central region of Honduras. It was the capital of the province and of the State since 1825; being an important religious and political center for more than three centuries, until President Marco Aurelio Soto moved the country’s capital to the city of Tegucigalpa in 1880.

The city’s colonial past is evident in several of its old churches, an impressive cathedral, colonial squares, interesting museums, as well as republican civil architecture in keeping with its history since it was founded by the Spanish captain Alonso de Cáceres in 1537.

The accelerated growth experienced by the city of Comayagua led the municipal authorities to structure a territorial reorganization plan. Between the years of 1945 -1975 the population of the city quadrupled due to the high rate of population growth reached at that time (4.8%) and the migratory movements from the interior of the country.

Comayagua, is one of the wonders of Honduras has become a national and international attraction for tourism. Every week Comayagua receives more than 200 travelers interested in the colonial heritage.

During the Holy Week season, this city becomes the capital of religious tourism in Honduras. «The aroma of incense emanates from its temples and the flickering fire of the candles warms the faith of thousands of parishioners who seek spiritual peace remembering the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.»

History

Comayagua is known today as «La Antañona» by Hondurans. They call it that because in addition to being one of the oldest cities in Honduras, it still maintains a large part of its buildings with architectural value from the colonial era. Its historic center «is the most restored and preserved at the national level.»

The complementary names «Valladolid» or «País de las Higueras» were the ones given by the Spaniards, but it kept the primitive of the place, which is purely indigenous. Some differ in its etymology but most agree that it is composed of «Coma» (which in the Lenca dialect means moorland) and of «water» being its true meaning «Páramo abundant with water».

Comayagua was founded in 1537 by Captain Alonso de Cáceres in compliance with instructions «to find an apparent situation to form a city in the middle of the two oceans» by order of Francisco de Montejo, first governor of Hibueras as it was first known. Honduras. The city was originally called «Santa María de la Concepción de Comayagua».

On November 20, 1542, King Felipe II of Spain ordered that the Real Audiencia de los Confines reside in Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, but the Council of the Indies ordered on September 13, 1543 that it install its headquarters in the town of the conception of Comayagua.

In the same provision, the name of «Villa de la Nueva Valladolid de Comayagua» is given in honor of Valladolid in Spain, where the Court resided at the time of signing the founding letter of the audience.

Finally, the assignment as the seat of the audience was not made effective and it was transferred to the town of Gracias a Dios, on May 16, 1544. On December 20, 1557, King Felipe II granted it the title of city, during At that time, the city already had a Mercedarian convent founded by Fray Jerónimo Clemente in 1553 and a stone church built in 1551 at a cost of 15,000 gold pesos.

In 1558 the first chapter members were elected. In 1561, the episcopal chair that resided in Trujillo was transferred to it, due to its more favorable conditions, its location in the center of the country, and its proximity to the gold and silver mining regions. In 1585 the first cathedral was built; and the one that now exists (Immaculate Conception) began in 1634, and was completed in 1715.

Colonial Comayagua

Comayagua remained the capital of Honduras throughout the colonial period. Tegucigalpa begins to dispute that position in the mid-seventeenth century, as it developed as a mining center. In recognition of its growing importance, it received the title of town in 1768.

However, the development of Tegucigalpa was ignored when in 1788: «Comayagua became an Intendancy and politically absorbed Tegucigalpa which became a sub-delegation»…»Even so, the appointment was made from Comayagua, which caused a revolt in Tegucigalpa, fueling the existing rivalry between the two most important cities in the Province.»

Some resentful Tegucigalpenses a few years later, complained that these decisions had resulted in the economic decline of the area, «alleged that the new mayors were not interested in the development of mining and that they established a local tax on agricultural products such as indigo , sugar, and cattle, which only benefited Comayagua.” As a result of the complaints presented by the residents of Tegucigalpa and on the recommendation of José Cecilio del Valle, advisor to the president of the Guatemalan hearing, the Mayor’s Office was re-created in 1812.

“The establishment of the Intendancy in Comayagua not only delayed the growth of Tegucigalpa, but it could not contain the continuous decline of Comayagua. It became from the capital of the province, to a sleepy town that, by the beginning of the 19th century, had only a few Spaniards reduced to living on charity… In addition, the city had earned a reputation for being unhealthy and poorly provisioned. »

«The reason given for the decline of the city was the decrease in agriculture and commerce, which was often attributed to the laziness of the indigenous people. In 1802 the two parishes of the city had a combined population of 5,369». For all these reasons it was proposed that the capital be moved to Tegucigalpa. Despite these proposals, the capital remained in Comayagua throughout the colonial period.

time of independence

During the time close to independence there were several pro-independence movements throughout Central America. In Honduras these movements took place in Tegucigalpa. Names like Miguel Bustamante, Matías Zuniga, Simón Gutiérrez, Pablo Borjas, Andrés Lozano, Diego Vijil, Dionisio de Herrera, and Francisco Morazán etc. appear on the list of people associated with the pro-independence movement. «Those Tegucigalpa patriots were considered by the authority of Comayagua as conspirators,» trying to «foster from Tegucigalpa ideas contrary to the colonial regime.»

Comayagua authorities wanted to put down the pro-independence revolts, but the colonial regime had already died. On September 21, 1821, Central America proclaimed its independence from Spain. Comayagua received the specifications in the early hours of the morning of September 28 and the government with the members of the council learned of the decision, accepting Independence.

On November 28, 1821, a note from General Agustín de Iturbide arrived in Guatemala suggesting that Central America, and the Viceroyalty of Mexico, form a great empire under the Plan of Iguala and the Treaties of Córdoba. The issue of annexation to Mexico caused divisions within each of the provinces since some cities were in favor of it and others against it.

In Honduras, Comayagua ―through its governor José Tinoco de Contreras― ruled in favor of the annexation; but Tegucigalpa, the second most important city in the province, opposed the idea of ​​it. In the end, Iturbide’s annexationist proposal triumphed and on August 22, 1822, Central America joined Mexico.

The annexation to the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide did not last long, because he abdicated on March 19, 1823, and on July 1 of that same year, Central America proclaimed its definitive independence. Comayagua and Honduras became part of the United Provinces of Central America.

Geographic and economic context

The city of Comayagua has a territorial extension of 831.9 km². This city is located in the valley of the same name, located in the central region of Honduras, between 87°22′ and 87°55′ of Western longitude and 14°22′ and 14°38′ of North Latitude in the center of the country, between the Humuya and Chiquito rivers.

Comayagua, limits to the north with the municipalities of El Rosario, San Jeronimo, Esquias and Siguatepeque. To the south with Villa de San Antonio; to the east: Francisco Morazán Department. To the west Comayagua limits with the municipalities of Ajuterique, Lejamaní and the department of La Paz.

A mountainous system surrounds the valley in which the city of Comayagua is located; where the main mountains are: Montecillos Mountains, are west of La Paz. Mountains of Comayagua to the east of the department and join the mountains of Esquías extending to Minas de Oro; to the south it has the branches of Lepaterique, Mulacagua and Pototerique.

This geographical situation allows Comayagua to be in the subtropical climate range, although due to the biodiversity that compose it, it presents the rainy temperate climate variable. The average monthly temperature of the hottest month is greater than 20 degrees Celsius and of the coldest month is 18 degrees. centigrade

Commercially, Comayagua is located between the two most important cities of Honduras (Tegucigalpa, political center (about 80 km away to the south) and San Pedro Sula, economic center, (about 140 km away to the north). It serves as a connection with other Central American countries.This condition has given it the character of a «city of passage», which has conditioned the economic and tourist development of the city.

It is also planned that the future «dry canal» will pass through Comayagua, a major transport axis between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, which will reinforce its position as a strategic crossroads. The main economic source of the municipality is agriculture based on horticulture, basic grains (corn, rice and beans), coffee, sorghum and soybeans. Although it has some industry, commerce is the basic area of ​​growth and development of the city.

Tourism

The colonial city of Comayagua, one of the wonders of Honduras, has become a national and international attraction for tourism. Every week Comayagua receives more than 200 travelers interested in the colonial heritage. This city is famous for its beautiful churches.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria in the heart of the city, has one of the oldest clocks in America. The Iglesia de la Merced is the first church built in the city. Likewise, Comayagua has the churches of San Francisco and the Church of the Indians of San Sebastián.

In Comayagua there is also the Episcopal Palace and Tridentine College of Comayagua. This important building occupies, together with the Tridentino school, an entire block. The first construction, the bishop’s residence, was located behind the current Cathedral and was known as «Las Casas Episcopales» built at the beginning of the 17th century.

Currently, the Episcopal Palace continues to be the residence and offices of the Bishop and part of its facilities has been oriented to house the Museum of Religious Art.

During the Holy Week season, Comayagua becomes the capital of religious tourism in Honduras. «The aroma of incense emanates from its temples and the flickering fire of the candles warms the faith of thousands of parishioners who seek spiritual peace remembering the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.»

To celebrate the main week, in addition to processions and masses, aniline-dyed sawdust carpets are made, a tradition that was born in 1963, when Miriam Mejía de Zapata designed one in front of the Cathedral to celebrate the appointment of Monsignor Bernardino Masarella as the new bishop of Comayagua. The calendar for Holy Week also includes other cultural activities.

The Ruins of the Royal Box, is the building built for the operation of the Royal Box was designed by Don Baltasar de Maradiaga and built between 1739 and 1741, following orders from the Governor of Honduras Don Francisco de Parga and for the amount of 12,000 tostones.

This was the second construction dedicated to protecting the assets of the crown since the previous one collapsed. The building was abandoned after the 1809 earthquake that almost completely destroyed it. On September 24, 1870, General Casto José Alvarado sold for 3,000 pesos this building that he owned, located in the city of Comayagua, known as the old «Royal Box».

The Archeology Museum was the seat of the Presidency of the Republic from 1824 to 1880, when the capital was moved to Tegucigalpa. Once the republic was declared, it became the property of the State of Honduras.

In 1995, the building became the headquarters of the “Comayagua Colonial” program and the building became a pilot project, also housing the offices of the Master Plan and the Workshop School. Once the restoration works were completed at the end of 1999, it became the Regional Museum of Archaeology.

Population

In the middle of the 18th century, the city of Comayagua had 7 to 8,000 inhabitants. —Its population in the year 1821 was between 17 and 18,000 inhabitants. —By 1856, its population was reduced by half after it was set on fire and looted by Guatemalan troops in 1827, it had an emigration from which it cost it to recover.

Between the years of 1945 and 1975, the population of the city quadrupled due to the high population growth rate reached at that time (4.8%) and the migratory movements from the interior of the country, among which those caused by the conflict stand out. war with El Salvador (1969) and Hurricane Fifi (1974). During this time, 30.1% of its population was an emigrant, coming from rural areas.

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE) Comayagua currently has more than 120,000 inhabitants, of which 50.7% are female and 49.3% male. UNAH 110,000 of which reside in the urban area. This population places Comayagua among the most populated cities in the country, along with Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, La Ceiba, etc.

The accelerated growth experienced by the city of Comayagua led the municipal authorities to decide to structure a territorial reorganization plan. Comayagua is considered one of the municipalities in the department of Comayagua that presents the best conditions for economic development.

This situation could generate problems in the future if the investment areas are not regulated, that is, if each of the productive areas is not categorized in an orderly manner, whether at the level of goods and services, agriculture or housing.

Education

The illiteracy rate of the municipality is approximately 16%. Regarding the educational level, the largest volume of the population has a primary education level and only a very minority percentage has a higher or university level.

  1. Francisco Morazán National Pedagogical University or (UPNFM Comayagua)
  2. National Autonomous University of Honduras “José Trinidad Reyes” or (Regional University Center of the CURC Center – Comayagua)
  3. Polytechnic University of Honduras Distance Education System (Private)
  4. Jose Cecilio del Valle University
  5. Christian University of Honduras – UCRISH

Heritage

Tangible Heritage

The city is endowed with a rich Spanish colonial architecture, highlighting:

  • Chapter House
  • Royal Box
  • Column of the Constitution of 1812
  • city ​​Hall
  • Comayagua Museum
  • Religious Art Museum
  • Casa Cabañas Museum (Museum of the rulers of the federal and Republican era of Honduras)
  • Comayagua Cathedral (1634)
  • Church of Mercy (1550)
  • Church of Saint Francis (1560)
  • Church of San Sebastian (1580)
  • La Caridad Church (16th century)

Intangible Heritage

It also has a rich intangible cultural heritage:

  • Baile de los Diablitos (In February, celebrating San Sebastian)
  • Holy Week. Sawdust carpets in the streets.
  • Festivities. December 8.

In 2008, the Cultural Center of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation – CCET awarded the Comayaguense Cultural Committee the King Juan Carlos I Prize for Historical Studies, «for his career in promoting traditions and the conservation of the cultural heritage of the nation.»

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