Nestled in a narrow valley amid surrounding mountains, the colourful city of Guanajuato plays an important role in Mexico’s cultural heritage. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, the city was the location of the first battle of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810, and today hosts the world-renowned art event Festival Internacional Cervantino.
But beyond the small, winding streets and colourful buildings lies a darker tourist attraction – the Mummies’ Museum.
The morbid memorabilia inside ‘El Museo De Las Momias’ includes the corpses of 119 individuals who were victims of the 1833 Guanajuato cholera outbreak. Disinterred between 1865 and 1958 when their families were unable to pay a burial tax, some bodies were found to be naturally mummified.
Stored in charnel houses, it wasn’t long before the living began requesting to visit the remains of the faithful departed, and realising the potential, savvy cemetery workers started charging for entry.
Today, the Mummies’ Museum spans the generations from infant to elderly, including a fetus, which is believed to be the smallest human mummy in the world. Chillingly, the contorted features on the faces of some corpses suggest they were buried alive – and died in terror while screaming for help that never came.
Find out more about the Mummies of Guanajuato (El Museo De Las Momias).