The mummies of Guanajuato are, without a doubt, one of the essential elements of the culture of this beautiful city.
According to legend, in 1833, Guanajuato was struck by one of the most terrible epidemics it had ever experienced and a large part of the population died, filling to the limit the city’s only cemetery. However, in 1861, the new Santa Paula cemetery was opened there. This is the famous site of the discovery of the mummies of Guanajuato, which are now on display at the museum next door.
But this cemetery contains more than just mummified remains; it is also home to the tombs and monuments of great heroes, together with those of ordinary Guanajuato townsfolk, the humble forebears whose memories live on in the hearts of younger generations.
It was in the year 1865 that, to the astonishment of the gravediggers on duty, the body of French doctor, Remigio Leroy was exhumed and it was discovered that his body was mummified – the first of its kind to be discovered in the state.
The old gravediggers noticed that the corpses covered in coal dust and quicklime were the ones that had been preserved.
According to the cemetery’s rules, if a space hadn’t been reserved “in perpetuity”, the remains would eventually be exhumed. Likewise, due to missing records of the relevant payments, other bodies were exhumed that were found to be in a similar condition. They began to store these bodies in the cemetery’s administrative office. At first, visits to look at the mummified remains were informal and clandestine, but, as people’s curiosity began to grow, it was soon converted into a city tourist attraction, eventually becoming, after many years and several changes, the museum we know today. The exhibit consists of bodies exhumed from the Santa Paula cemetery and it now has over 100 mummies on public display.