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taxi driver pointed to a sign that said all are welcome to the city of strawberries. His broken English pieced together and translated these words, but the message was clear. Irapuato, Mexico, the city of strawberries, is ready to welcome those who journey there.

Some people might hesitate to visit due to negative images of inner Mexico. However, cities such as Irapuato reveal vibrant beauty and culture lost in the stereotypes of the country as a whole.

The Mural de los Orígenes by Salvador Almaraz, which depicts the history of Irapuato. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato’s history follows centuries of settlers, such as the Chichimecas around 1200 AD to the takeover of the Tarascans and the eventual Spanish arrival in the 16th century. The Mural de Los Orígenes mosaic in the historic downtown area depicts this history on a grand scale. The name of Irapuato comes from the Tarascan word of “xiriquitzio” or “iriquitzio,” which means “hill that emerges from the plains.” Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1824, the new Congress of the Union created the state of Guanajuato, where Irapuato resides. Today, Irapuato ranks as the second-most populous city in Guanajuato behind León.

Side view of Plaza Miguel Hidalgo and the Catedral de Irapuato. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato’s agricultural history of strawberry production transcends the city’s culture and identity. Don Nicolás Tejada brought 24 strawberry plants to Irapuato from France in 1852, sparking its future importance for the community. The city calls itself the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” or city of strawberries, earning that name in the 1960s when the fruit industry boomed there. While other cities now surpass Irapuato in strawberry production, the crop continues to play an integral role in the area’s economy.

View of the Templo del Hospitalito from the Berriozabal alley. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato doesn’t hide its strawberry pride. Images of strawberries frequently appear on buses, in parks, and in city logos. The famed “La Cristalita” store draws people in with the sweet smell of fresas con crema, strawberries, and cream, and the unwavering sight of strawberry-themed everything. The Festival de la Fresa celebrates the crop each summer in extensive festivities. People can even complete the “Route of the Strawberry” tour to visit Irapuato’s strawberry fields and pick baskets of the fruit to take home.

Plaza Miguel Hidalgo with view of the Catedral de Irapuato (left) and the Templo de San José (right). Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato offers many other sights and experiences. Plaza Miguel Hidalgo, named after the father of the Mexican independence movement, remains the prime area to find many things such as carts of freshly made churros, elote, and different types of Mexican food. Other booths display vast arrays of souvenir goods from handmade dresses to leather shoes at the Hidalgo Market. The Presidencia Municipial sits nearby with the famous “Las Revolución” mural by Salvador Almaraz inside. For museum experiences, see traditional indigenous art at the Museo Pacha Moma or explore the city’s past in more depth at the Museo de la Ciudad de Irapuato. Additionally, wander down the quaint Berriozabal alley to find the Templo del Hospitalito, the oldest church in Irapuato initially constructed during the end of the 16th century and completed in the early 18th century.

Irapuato’s Plaza de los Fundadores decorated for Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16th. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

The rarity of English speakers in Irapuato indicates a lack of international visitors. However, this demonstrates the untainted charm to experience in Irapuato. Beyond the tourist hotspots of Cancun or Cabo San Lucas is a more authentic Mexico. Many may associate inner Mexico with crime or poverty, but Irapuato’s community and culture challenge these notions. The city of strawberries awaits to be discovered.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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The City of Strawberries

Irapuato’s Templo del Hospitalito, the oldest church in the city. Cover photo by Whitney DeVries.

September 26, 2021

Many may associate inner Mexico with crime or poverty, but Irapuato’s community and culture challenge these notions. The city of strawberries awaits to be discovered.

A

taxi driver pointed to a sign that said all are welcome to the city of strawberries. His broken English pieced together and translated these words, but the message was clear. Irapuato, Mexico, the city of strawberries, is ready to welcome those who journey there.

Some people might hesitate to visit due to negative images of inner Mexico. However, cities such as Irapuato reveal vibrant beauty and culture lost in the stereotypes of the country as a whole.

The Mural de los Orígenes by Salvador Almaraz, which depicts the history of Irapuato. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato’s history follows centuries of settlers, such as the Chichimecas around 1200 AD to the takeover of the Tarascans and the eventual Spanish arrival in the 16th century. The Mural de Los Orígenes mosaic in the historic downtown area depicts this history on a grand scale. The name of Irapuato comes from the Tarascan word of “xiriquitzio” or “iriquitzio,” which means “hill that emerges from the plains.” Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1824, the new Congress of the Union created the state of Guanajuato, where Irapuato resides. Today, Irapuato ranks as the second-most populous city in Guanajuato behind León.

Side view of Plaza Miguel Hidalgo and the Catedral de Irapuato. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato’s agricultural history of strawberry production transcends the city’s culture and identity. Don Nicolás Tejada brought 24 strawberry plants to Irapuato from France in 1852, sparking its future importance for the community. The city calls itself the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” or city of strawberries, earning that name in the 1960s when the fruit industry boomed there. While other cities now surpass Irapuato in strawberry production, the crop continues to play an integral role in the area’s economy.

View of the Templo del Hospitalito from the Berriozabal alley. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato doesn’t hide its strawberry pride. Images of strawberries frequently appear on buses, in parks, and in city logos. The famed “La Cristalita” store draws people in with the sweet smell of fresas con crema, strawberries, and cream, and the unwavering sight of strawberry-themed everything. The Festival de la Fresa celebrates the crop each summer in extensive festivities. People can even complete the “Route of the Strawberry” tour to visit Irapuato’s strawberry fields and pick baskets of the fruit to take home.

Plaza Miguel Hidalgo with view of the Catedral de Irapuato (left) and the Templo de San José (right). Photo by Whitney DeVries.

Irapuato offers many other sights and experiences. Plaza Miguel Hidalgo, named after the father of the Mexican independence movement, remains the prime area to find many things such as carts of freshly made churros, elote, and different types of Mexican food. Other booths display vast arrays of souvenir goods from handmade dresses to leather shoes at the Hidalgo Market. The Presidencia Municipial sits nearby with the famous “Las Revolución” mural by Salvador Almaraz inside. For museum experiences, see traditional indigenous art at the Museo Pacha Moma or explore the city’s past in more depth at the Museo de la Ciudad de Irapuato. Additionally, wander down the quaint Berriozabal alley to find the Templo del Hospitalito, the oldest church in Irapuato initially constructed during the end of the 16th century and completed in the early 18th century.

Irapuato’s Plaza de los Fundadores decorated for Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16th. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

The rarity of English speakers in Irapuato indicates a lack of international visitors. However, this demonstrates the untainted charm to experience in Irapuato. Beyond the tourist hotspots of Cancun or Cabo San Lucas is a more authentic Mexico. Many may associate inner Mexico with crime or poverty, but Irapuato’s community and culture challenge these notions. The city of strawberries awaits to be discovered.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.