Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

El Salvador - San Vicente

San Vicente was an important centre for the production of indigo blue during colonial times. Indigo blue was one of the most valued export products for the European industry and the hard task of extraction was carried out with a labour force of thousands of persons of African descent.


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On 1624 the highest authority of the province of San Salvador, Mayor Pedro de Aguilar Lazo de la Vega, embarked upon the mission of destroying the uprising in the mountain of “El Marquesado.” Enslaved Africans of the Zacatecoluca and Apastepe haciendas, who were active in the struggle against slavery, fled from their masters and called a general uprising. Anton Largo, who had been the slave of Diego Martin from Cerro el Viejo, was the leader of this uprising. The mountain of El Marquesado in which there was a settlement of runaway slaves was surrounded and attacked by Spanish soldiers who gained access and captured prisoners. Eleven years after the uprising of El Marquesado, colonial authorities founded San Vicente, as a settlement for Spanish and Creole families devoted to the production of indigo blue.

Around the town of San Vicente there are a number of camps for indigo blue production. During colonial times the indigo blue haciendas did not devote themselves exclusively to the plantation of xiquilite, actually there were forests, grazing lands and maize fields that were tilled by farmers or tenants. Thus, the indigo blue haciendas in El Salvador not only produced indigo for foreign trade, but also food for the local markets.

The working conditions in these indigo blue camps represented a health risk for the workers, since the waters and waste created an unhealthy environment making the population vulnerable to plagues and contagious infectious diseases. As a result the indigenous populations were banned from working in the indigo haciendas in 1563, and instead Africans and Afro-descendants were employed in great numbers. Towards 1740 the Village of San Vicente de Austria had a workforce of two thousand and three hundred mulattos, who served in the militias, as in the cities of San Miguel and San Salvador.

At present there are a number of indigo camps around the city of San Vicente, which were part of the large haciendas during colonial times. Staggered basins used in the cooking or soaking, in the thrashing, and the drying of the dye can be seen in the remains of the camps. The hydraulic works include also a ditch were the waterwheel used to be. This cultural landscape includes those of the Hacienda Tehuacan (also known as San Andrés, Opico or de Angulo). Today it is the property of the Salvadoran State and it is protected by the declaration of archaeological site.  

The temple of Our Lady of El Pilar, whose construction started on1762, may be found at the centre of San Vicente. On March 4, 1838 the mortal remains of the Salvadoran Liberator Jose Simeon Cañas were buried inside this church. The church was declared National Monument on February 1953.

Easy Access. The site is located 56 Km away from the city of San Salvador. To the North it is bounded by Apastepeque and San Ildefonso; to the East by Estanzuelas, Mercedes Umaña, Berlin and San Austin (all in the department of Usulutan); to the by South Tecoluca and to the West by Tepetitan and San Cayetano Istepeque.
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Other data of interest

El Salvador

Historical name

San Vicente de Lorenzana, San Vicente de Austria, camp of hacienda Tehuacan or San Andres or Opico

Founding Date

Foundation of the town on 1635 and foundation of the village on 1658


Departamento de San Vicente, municipios de Tecoluca y San Vicente / Departamento de San Vicente, municipalities of Tecoluca and San Vicente , PC: 1701 .

Phone numbers

San Vicente: +503 2314-2400
+503 2314-2416 Tecoluca: +503 2302-8000

Responsible entity

Alcaldía de Tecoluca (Town Hall of Tecoluca)

Management plan

There is a development plan of the site regarding the indigo blue camps

Web link


Cultural landscape


National monument


Multipurpose Site of Rebellion Workplace Settlement

Access level


Current Use

Settlement, historical centre of the hacienda

Original use

Settlement and indigo blue production camp

Property kind



  • National Monument February 1953
  • Tehuacan was declared National Archaeological Monument May 1976