Coro is the capital of Falcón State and the oldest city in the west of Venezuela. It was founded on July 26, 1527 by Juan de Ampíes as Santa Ana de Coro. It is established at the south of the Paraguaná Peninsula in a coastal plain, flanked by the Médanos de Coro National Park to the north and the sierra de Coro to the south, at a few kilometers from its port (La Vela de Coro) in the Caribbean Sea at a point equidistant between the Ensenada de La Vela and Golfete de Coro. It has a wide cultural tradition that comes from being the urban settlement founded by the Spanish conquerors who colonized the interior of the continent. It was the first capital of the Venezuela Province and head of the first bishop founded in South America in 1531.
As Neu-Augsburg, it was the first German colony in the Americas under the Welsers. The precursor movement of the independence and of vindication of the dominated classes in Venezuela originated in this region; it is also considered to be the cradle of the Venezuelan federalist movement in the Republican era. Thanks to its history, culture and its well-preserved colonial and republican architecture, it was appointed in 1993 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, thus becoming the first site in Venezuela to be vested with this title. Since 2005 it is on the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger List.
The city was founded on July 26 of 1527 by Juan Martín de Ampués, with the name of Santa Ana de Coro. Ampíes covenanted to respect the authority of the Native chief Manaure highest authority of the natives of the region, the Caquetio people, This covenant is broken abruptly in 1529 with the landing at the city's first Governor and Captain General Ambrosius Ehinger representing the Welser, a banking and trading family.
The family received the Province of Venezuela (as Klein-Venedig) from the Spanish crown for exploration, founding cities and exploitation of the resources of this vast territory that stretched from Cabo de la Vela (Guajira Peninsula) to Maracapana (near the city of Barcelona, Anzoátegui). From Coro emerged multiple expeditions to the Venezuelan and Colombian Llanos, the Andes and the Orinoco River in search of El Dorado, which allowed the conquerors to explore these vast territories.
Fall and Rise
During the seventeenth century Coro was hit by a hurricane and invasions of pirates, to the point where it appeared in the charts of English and French of the time with the title of "destroyed." However, these calamities left intact the field, with its productive power, which allowed it to recover slowly. Thus, in the late 18th and early 19th century reaches its colonial peak. Precisely from this period are the best preserved civilian buildings in the city.
Coro is located at north of the Coro region, transition between the Venezuelan Coastal Range and the Cordillera de Mérida. Located on a coastal plain of xerophytic vegetation (19 msn) covering the entire western Falcón state and reaches its narrowest point just in the city, closing a few miles east of Coro by foothills of the Sierra de Falcón. To the north lies the Médanos Isthmus, named for it found in a formation of dunes or sand fields that have been formed by persistent trade winds and ocean currents. The isthmus connects the Paraguaná Peninsula with the mainland. at south of the city are the foothills of the Sierra de Falcón.
It is a city of peninsular maritime climate, with long drought times and rainfall very poor stands at approximately 382 mm per year. The highest rainfall occurs between October and December. The average temperature is 27.8 °C, with minimum temperatures of 24 °C and maximum 32 °C. It is characterized by great force winds, can register speeds of 35 km/h.
Conservation and World Heritage Site
The city has inherited a monumental architecture of the colonial and republican times features typical of the Andalusian architecture (southern Spain), with some Dutch influence (the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are found off its coast) and using materials and techniques used by Native Americans based in the mud, like adobe and wattle, which gives it a unique personality. Equally characteristic has a certain pattern that combines traditional Spanish checkerboard layout with an irregular shape typical of medieval German cities, product of the period in which the city was the seat of the domain of Welser.
In the central town is common will find yourself with streets that end abruptly, breaking the regularity of the Spanish checkerboard. Ambrosius Alfinger (German of the house of the Welsers and first Governor of the Province of Venezuela) restructures the layout of the streets based on the original layout of the founding of the city. Since 2005 Coro has been officially listed as an "endangered" World Heritage Site (see List of World Heritage in Danger). Climate change in Venezuela, in particular heavy rains, have caused significant damage to its rich architecture.
Coro's traditional buildings were built with techniques based on the use of earth (adobe, and earth reinforced with a plant structure in a technique called "bahareque"). Many of these buildings are vulnerable to heavy rains, as in its natural state earth is a material of low resistance to moisture. As well as the damage from rains between November 2004 and February 2005, the built environment has, according to UNESCO, been adversely affected by the construction of inappropriate walls and fences. There has also been concern about the construction of a new monument, beach walkways and a gateway to the city in the port of La Vela de Coro: these could have a considerable impact on the value of the site.
Monuments and Tourist Attractions
From its historic colonial architecture to its diverse landscapes, Coro provides various forms of tourist attraction. In the extreme northeast of the city are the Médanos de Coro National Park, large dunes that are the only desert in Venezuela. They are located along the road that runs between the colonial area of the city to the port of La Vela de Coro. The colonial town, a World Heritage Site, preserves a typical urban landscape of the 18th and 19th centuries, with its cobbled streets and hundreds of historic and traditional buildings.
Some architectures reflects a Mudéjar style, while others reflect the cultural influence of the Netherlands through the colony of Curacao. In the city there are interesting Catholic and civilians buildings, that were the scene of numerous events of historic significance, since the early Republican period. Probably the architectural influences of Coro are unique.