The History of Loreto
Loreto Mexico has a timeless beauty and a rich history, and it’s a place that captures travelers’ imaginations as they walk along the turquoise sea or wander the cobblestone streets of town. Immersing yourself in the local culture and hearing the stories of Loreto is what makes vacationing here so unique compared to other Mexico destinations. Knowing the city’s history will give you a better appreciation for its charming architecture, delicious culinary scene, and its small-town way of life. Let these little-known facts about Loreto inspire your next trip.
1. Loreto has been inhabited for over 12,000 years
Long before there were all-inclusive resorts and pristine golf courses, Loreto was called Concho, a simple and beautiful home for Mexican tribes, including the Cochimies and Guaycuras people. Historians believe that Loreto is the oldest human settlement in Baja California and estimate that people began living there 12,000 years ago.
2. Ancient cave paintings and petroglyphs give a glimpse into Loreto’s history.
While it’s hard to imagine what life was like back then, travelers can embark on journeys into the mountains to see ancient cave paintings and petroglyphs. These tours allow you to walk in the footsteps of history, and because they’ve been protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, they’ll continue to tell the story of Loreto Mexico for years to come.
3. Loreto was established on October 25, 1697
The city we now know as Loreto was established on October 25, 1697 by the Spanish priest Juan María de Salvatierra, and it was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Californias: El Real de Loreto with the mission of Our Lady of Loreto Concho. Building this church took several years and was completed on September 8, 1703. The image of the Virgin of Loreto was added to the church during a solemn ceremony and mass that day. Overtime, the Spanish government decided the land wasn’t profitable enough to maintain the mission, and in 1768, the priests departed for Europe.
4. Loreto was the state capital
Loreto was the state capital until 1777. Baja California remained an important part of the country, and pirates and sailors explored the wonders of the Sea of Cortez, gaining riches from pearls they found in the water. In 1769, the peninsula was divided into Old and New California, which would become known as Baja California and Alta California. In 1777, the capital moved to Monterrey, Alta California.
5. Loreto became a capital again from 1804 to 1822
This second chance to be the capital came as the state lines on the Baja Peninsula were drawn. Today, the capital of Baja California Sur is La Paz.
6. Tourism began to grow in the 1970s
In 1973, the transpeninsular highway that runs from Tijuana down to Cabo San Lucas was completed and allowed travelers to safely explore the region. The following year, the Loreto International Airport connected the city to the rest of the world, making it an international destination.
7. Loreto Bay National Marine Park was established in 1996
In 1996, Loreto Bay National Marine Park was established, protecting 790 square miles of the Sea of Cortez and the Islands of Loreto. As tourism was growing, this was a vital step, and the wonders of the sea continue to be Loreto’s main attraction.
During your Loreto Mexico vacation, take advantage of the educational opportunities. Book a tour out to the cave paintings, and be sure to stop at the local museum by the mission in downtown. As you explore, you’ll learn more about the local environment and culture.