Arizpe, Sonora, Mexico

Arizpe is a small town on the Rio Sonora with a big history. It was originally founded in 1646 by the Jesuit missionary Jerónimo de la Canal, and has had a significant impact on the history of Sonora and the region.

Located in the region of the native Opata people, the origins of the town’s name come from the Basque word Aritzpe, which means “under the oaks.” The Opata name for Arizpe is Heucaritzpa, which means “place of the brave or colorful ants.”

In 1776, Arizpe became the capital of the Spanish colonial region of Sonora and Sinaloa, known as the Comandancia y Capitanía General de las Provincias Internas. The Comandancia had jurisdiction over regions that are now parts of the Mexican states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, Baja California Norte, Baja California Sur, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, and parts of the present-day states of California, Texas and New Mexico.

Known as the birthplace of famed Sonoran General Ignacio Pesquiera (1820 – 1866), during the first half of the 19th century Arizpe was the capital of the state of Sonora, and in the late 1800’s it became the first official city in Sonora.

Today Arizpe is a small, quiet pueblo on the route of the Rio Sonora, and most of the town is hidden from the highway that passes through it. You need to turn on the street marked by a small red brick structure to see more of the town.

Arizpe has a very nice plaza and clock tower. Its beautiful and historic temple, La Misión de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion de Arizpe (also known as the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion), which was built in 1756, is a magnificent example of 18th century architecture.

Famed explorer Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, whose expedition to find a more direct land route for the colonization of Spanish Alta California, passed through Arizpe on their way to what is now San Francisco, California. Bautista de Anza died in 1788, and his body is interred in a marble mausoleum located in the temple.