Tunnels in San Miguel de Allende
I lived at that house and as children we used to have fun getting up to mischief there. I remember that the toilets were made of long planks with several holes over deep pits and we used to throw lighted matches or burning paper down to see the arches. There are arches down there, I don’t know if they might be part of some tunnel or some cellar. If they didn’t fill up the pits with rubble when they did the renovations, because throwing rubble down the pits is what they usually do in the houses in the town centre, the arches must still be there.
And opposite, in the Chapel of the Third Order, I remember that there used to be a very big, wooden door and it had a ring to pull it open and that was where you could go down into a tunnel or most probably it was a cellar; I don’t remember very well because I was very little, I was an altar boy and we used to go down there just to be naughty. But now that you mention it, and relating it to the arches that we could see under the toilets, it could be, why not, that there is a tunnel which goes from the Chapel of the Third Order to this house, now the Casa Europa, with one branching off to the chapel above, the Calvary, another more important one going down to the parish church and that’s how the tunnels might be interconnected. But I think that the one at the Chapel of the Third order was blocked many years ago.
About the tunnels… No one has ever told me that they have seen them, but they have shown me photographs. They have found a lot of arches and because of these arches, a lot of people believe that there is one tunnel which crosses San Miguel from north to south and another from east to west and that they cross at some point. I am very sceptical about the tunnels myself, and I think there may well be some in San Miguel, but not everywhere people say they are. For example, here in what is now the Casa Europa, if there are perhaps some arches underneath, I think it is more likely to do with the underground streams of water that flow down from El Chorro and in the earliest plans of the city, no doubt these arches were built to provide some reinforcement, while at the same time respecting the natural path of the now underground streams and the old houses that have this kind of support must have arches because these are a very good architectural element for providing support.
During some renovations that were carried out in this house, they must have taken advantage of the shafts between the supporting arches to build latrines. You can see the same thing further down the street in Licenciado Enrique Fernandez Martinez’s house, where there are also arches underneath the house, which I believe are not tunnels, but they give support because of the underwater streams. Even further down, opposite the Aldama Cinema, where the Chamber of Commerce used to be for many years, there’s another one, just the same. So if we see it as an almost straight line, these three houses are situated over the bed of a single underground stream.
Luis Felipe Rodriguez
I remember that they used to say that many years ago, when they were remodelling this house to house the government offices, at the back they knocked down some old walls and built some new ones because they made some kind of little offices with toilets and they did this on a second floor, which didn’t use to exist. So when they were doing this work, they found some foundations that they had to remove and when they were removing them, some pieces fell a very long way downwards. The workmen wanted to look down but it seems that they couldn’t see the bottom. Then they said that one Sunday, one of these men brought some very long cables or ropes and he and a friend of his went down with lamps because they were looking for a treasure. Then they said that they found some skeletons down there because it was like a dungeon and there were skeletons there. And they walked as far as they could along the tunnel, till they could not go any further, It must be true because not many years ago, outside the house in the road where Correo Street meets Corregidora Street, the rains made a kind of gully there because part of this tunnel, which comes from the parish church and goes under the back part of the house, must have fallen down although it seems that the dungeon is more towards the front, at the San Francisco Street entrance.
I don’t know if they got any treasure out or what they did with the skeletons or whose they might have been or if it’s even true at all, what I am telling you that they used to say, but this is what they used to tell us about when they were doing this remodelling work which was back in about 1975, more or less.
1. These stories were published in the book Casa Europa Mexico. The history of the house as recalled by residentes of San Miguel de Allende.
2. Photographs by Homero Adame.