In the 1930s, the Mexican Navy ordered a number of ships from Spain. The Guanajuato was among them, along with the Durango, Querétaro, Potosí, and Zacatecas—all ironically named after landlocked states in Mexico.
Of these, Guanajuato and Zacatecas went on to have some of the most interesting histories. While the Zacatecas was commandeered by the Spanish Navy during the country’s civil war and renamed Calvo Sotelo, the Guanajuato, along with the three other ships, were delivered to the Mexican Navy in 1936.
The Guanajuato, which measures 80 meters (262 feet) long and housed a crew of more than 100 people, did not see much action during her military career. The ship was decommissioned in 2001, and donated to the Aquarium of Veracruz, then donated again to the neighboring municipality of Boca del Río. In 2008, the vessel was re-inaugurated as an interactive museum.
The museum ship was known not just for the opportunity it provided visitors to see its interior and interact with many of the mechanisms there, but also for its deck, which was converted into a cafe and restaurant. Tours were guided by former members of the Mexican Navy, and explored different parts of the ship ranging from the bunks to the kitchens to the armaments. But the Guanajuato’s life as a museum was short-lived.
By the mid 2010s, the Guanajuato was showing signs of rust and decay, and eventually closed. In early 2019, control of the ship returned to Boca del Río. Now, the city is working on converting the Guanajuato into a more permanent structure, with a concrete base joining it to the adjacent pier.