The Santa Tecla Museum or MUTE
If you are visiting San Salvador, you will do well to pay a visit to the Santa Tecla Museum, or MUTE, as affectionately known by the locals; a place where culture and historical remembrance are nurtured through cultural activities and exhibitions.
The MUTE´s neoclassical building was originally designed and built as a prison in 1902 by architect José Jerez; who also designed most of Santa Tecla´s landmarks. The highlight of the building is the main tower, which once served as office for the mayor of the city.
The building was made from various materials including clay brick of volcanic origin. The original prison had 4 major cells to house 15 inmates each; however records show that up to 40 inmates were held in each of the cells. In addition, the prison had 6 small punishment cells and 4 additional rooms 2 for the kitchen and 2 for special punishment prisoners, one of them named “the little one”, where no sound or light could be heard or seen. Visitors today may experience the coldness of this room and other interesting attractions at MUTE.
During the Salvadoran war, the building was used as army barracks and as a detention center for political prisoners; its most famous political prisoner was Mr. Salvador Sanchez Ceren; currently the vice-president of El Salvador.
During the 2001 earthquakes, this Santa Tecla icon suffered extensive damage, after which the municipality took action to restore the building to its former glory. With help from “Fons Catalá of Development Cooperation” (Spain), the municipality started restoration work in 2007 and completed it in 2010.
Also on display at MUTE is a collection of artifacts found during restoration and which include antique guns, chains, clothing and graffiti left behind by the prisoners that lived in the facilities; some of them with slogans and messages expressing discontent at the time of civil war between 1980 and 1992.
MUTE also houses contemporary art, including sculptures, paintings; a room for audio-visual documentaries; photo exhibitions of Santa Tecla, and supports events such as dances, poetry readings, concerts and others.
How to get there
Address: 7th Avenue South No.1- 4 Santa Tecla.
By car, MUTE is located in front of the home for children ‘Adalberto Guirola’ ; you can park your car in front of MUTE where there is security from the metropolitan police (CAM).
Bus routes: take the No. 42 ‘micro-bus’ or 101-D ‘special bus’. The fee is $ 0.35 USD. You can also take any of the buses that go to the west of the country (Lourdes, Armenia, Sonsonate, and Santa Ana Ahuachapán), just ask the driver to stop at the ‘Instituto Nacional Jose Damián Villacorta’ and walk 100m due north.
Where to eat
There is an affordable cafeteria with within the premises; it is open from 3pm until 10pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays.
Admission is free for all visitors.
Contact telephone: (503) 2534 9633.
Additional historical information: http://www.bcn.es/cooperacio/cas/cooperacio_directa/museu-sant-tecla.html
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