Have a Baja Moment! Visit the Cultural Center in La Paz
History, art and culture converge in the recently opened Centro Cultural La Paz. The cultural center has attracted many visitors since its opening, and it has become a premier local venue for book presentations, concerts, conferences, dance performances, and painting and photography exhibitions.
Located only two blocks away from the Malecon on Calle 16 de Septiembre, the cultural center has brought new life to the downtown area by reclaiming an historic building and providing a much needed space for residents to gather and experience local culture.
The center’s historic building dates from the beginning of the 20th century. The solid structure of stone and brick was built to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Mexican Independence. Through the years, it has served many proposes: it was a prison, military barracks, the central offices of the dominant political party and the Mayor’s office. In 2010, after a well-deserved restoration, the space was reconditioned to its present purpose.
A visit to the center begins with an appreciation of the façade’s architectural details. At the entrance, an oversized wooden double door leads to a central courtyard surrounded by brick arches. Other interesting architectural features like high ceilings and exposed wooden beams can be observed throughout the rooms. The courtyard serves as a multipurpose forum open to local artists as well as noteworthy national personalities.
One of the main attractions in the center is the Sala Codex Peninsula. This permanent two-room exhibit synthesizes the relationship between men, culture and nature in Baja California Sur through a combination of text from writers, scholars and historians, with outstanding images from noted photographers. The Codex room captures in colors, faces, landscapes and words the voices and views of local artists as they describe how men transform nature and create a culture.
The exhibit is divided in ten sections that take you on a journey through history, geology, nature, people, art and popular cultures of the southern part of the Baja California peninsula.
The cultural center also has a Fototeca, a photographic library were you can witness the transformation of La Paz over time. This project works to rescue, preserve and digitize old pictures of people, places and events in La Paz. To do so, the Fototeca reached out to the community and invited local families to share their photographs. After a successful start, the collection has been slowly growing with the help of everybody in the community. It is now open to the public Tuesday – Friday, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The newest addition to the center is the coffee shop Maria California. Visitors can now savor traditional local flavors and Mexican delights during breakfast and lunch hours. The coffee shop’s rustic decor, attentive staff and delicious food are rapidly increasing its popularity among both locals and visitors. Try their freshly baked pastries with Cafe Lechero, coffee with milk served in a unique way. The cafe is open Monday – Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Find a good book to accompany your coffee at Educal, the cultural center’s bookstore. The store has a wide collection of new and classic texts, and it is also a great place to buy archeological replicas and local arts and crafts.
Centro Cultural La Paz is now a must see attraction in the downtown area, so make sure you pay a visit next time you’re in town. The center is open Monday – Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. For a current list of events and exhibits, call (612) 122-0065.
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