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History of Acapulco, Mexico

The city of Acapulco dates back earlier than 3000 BCE and is believed to be the earliest inhabited region in all of Mexico.  In fact, pottery and figurine artifacts discovered in Acapulco's Puerto Marqués coastal region are suspected to be the oldest in all of Mesoamerica.  In fact, cave paintings were discovered in Pie de la Cuesta (see map.)  These are indicative of early fishing settlements dating back to 1200 BCE. 

Spanish Role in Acapulco History

Acapulco was first visited by the Spaniards in the early 1500's.  An expedition ordered by Cortez, but led by Francisco Chico, landed in Acapulco on December 13, 1521, Santa Lucia's Day, which he immediately named the bay. 

A few years later, Rodriguez Villafuerte led another expedition to Acapulco's coast where he claimed the land in the name of the Spanish Kings by placing a cross in the sand, along with a staff and banner of Castille and Aragon.  By 1523, Acapulco became a dependency of the Spanish Crown by royal order and received the name of Ciudad de los Reyes, or City of the Kings.  In 1550, the city of Acapulco was declared a historical city by royal decree of Carlos V, King of Spain and the Emperor of Germany.

From this point, the port of Acapulco played an integral part in Spanish trade.  For over 250 years, the "Manila-Acapulco Galleon" trading movement had ships sailing from Acapulco to the Philippines and became the annual bargaining point where traders would negotiate for imported silks, spices, porcelain, lacquer ware and ivory.

History of Pirates in Acapulco

This annual event soon attracted Caribbean pirates from England and the Netherlands, including the infamous pirate captain, Francis Drake.  In 1579, Drake attacked Acapulco in an attempt to seize the treasure of imports but could not overtake the Spanish Galleons.  One of these ships was the Santa Ana, which was later seized by pirate Thomas Cavendish, off the coast of Cabo San Lucas in 1587.

In 1615, the Spaniards rebuilt their Acapulco fort after it was destroyed in a Dutch fleet invasion.  The Spaniards christened the new fort, Fort San Diego upon its completion in 1617.  In 1776, the fort was devastated once again by an earthquake and was rebuilt by 1783. 

In 1810, the Mexican War of Independence began, and by its finish in 1821, the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade was put to a stop.

Historical Facts About Acapulco

The main boulevard in Acapulco is named after Miguel Alemán Valdés.  Valdés was president of Mexico from 1946 to 1952, but more importantly, he is credited as the primary architect and visionary of the city's development.

Hotel El Mirador was first built in 1933 by Carlos Barnard, and then included only 12 rooms on the famous cliffs of La Quebrada.  The restaurant, "La Perla" was added to the hotel in 1949.

Acapulco's first disco, The Tequila a Go-Go, and the first luxury hotel, Villa Vera, were started by "Mr. Acapulco," Teddy Stauffer.

Actor, Johnny Weissmuller, known for his roles as Tarzan, was an Acapulco frequent visitor.

Acapulco hosted yachting as part of the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Hurricane Pauline caused incredible destruction to Acapulco in 1997.



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