Sights

HISTORIC SITES

Due to its origins as a 19th-century company town, Santa Rosalia's architecture is fascinatingly atypical for a Mexican town. Its most famous landmark is the Iglesia Santa Bárbara

(cnr Av Obregón & Altamirano; h daily), designed by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel and exhibited at the Paris World Exposition in 1889. The church was then disassembled and stored in Brussels, until a director of the Compañía del Boleo stumbled upon it by chance in 1895. He had it shipped to Santa Rosalia, where it was reassembled in 1897 and adorned with attractive stained-glass windows.

On the southwest side of the main plaza, the Palacio Municipal (Town Hall; Av Carranza near Altamirano) was originally a school, burned down, was rebuilt in 1925, renovated in 1967 and became the town hall in 1978. It's based on a design by Eiffel. Closer to the Transpeninsular, the faded, green-trimmed, schoolhouselike Biblioteca Mahatma Gandhi (cnr Playa & Av Constitución; h 8am-8pm Mon-Fri) was another Compañía del Boleo project. The 1916 Benemérito Sociedad Mutualista (cnr Av Obregón & Calle 7) features an interesting clock tower.

Many buildings on Mesa Francia also deserve a visit, most notably the Fundición del Pacífico, now the Museo Boleo (below), and the Hotel Francés (opposite). Lined with numerous French colonial houses, Av Cousteau runs between the museum and the hotel and is adorned with antique mining equipment, steam locomotives, mine cars and cranes.

Also worth a look are the ruins of the copper foundry along the Transpeninsular. Much of the original plant is intact.

MUSEO BOLEO

Once the business offices of the Compañía del Boleo, this museum (Mesa Francia; admission by donation; h8am-3pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat) includes accountants' offices (featuring old desks topped with dusty adding machines), the purchasing office (filled with maritime memorabilia), the pay office (complete with massive walk-in safe) and the boardroom. The museum overlooks downtown from Mesa Francia at the southern end of Av Cousteau. Even if you're not into history museums, it's worth walking through this one just to see the building. The wide balconies catch the ocean breeze and the views over the Sea of Cortez are simply splendid.

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