Ensenada, Mexico - Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California. Lying 125 kilometres south of San Diego on the Baja California Peninsula, it is locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico, "The Cinderella of the Pacific." When the first European explorers discovered the region, the Yuman Indians inhabited the region, of which tribal groups such as the Kiliwa, Paipai and Kumeyaay still exist. These semi-nomadic indigenous people lived in the bay area and interior valleys of the Sierra de Juárez and San Pedro Mártir.
Bahia Todos Santos, on which Ensenada now stands, was first reached by sea by the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo on the vessels El Salvador and Victoria. The city was founded September 17, 1542 under the name San Mateo. In 1602, while mapping the coast of the Californias in search of safe harbors for returning Spanish galleons from Manila to Acapulco, the city was renamed Ensenada de Todos Santos by Sebastián Vizcaíno. Ensenada means 'bay' or 'cove'. The first permanent settlement was established by the Jesuits during the seventeenth or eighteenth century. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1768, the Dominicans took over the representation of Europe in what is now Ensenada. In 1805, José Manuel Ruiz Carillo obtained permission to establish himself in Ensenada, being appointed governor of Baja California and building in Ensenada a house that survived until the final part of that century, despite being briefly taken by William Walker, the self-declared "president" of the Republic of Lower California, in 1853-54.
In 1882, Ensenada was designated the capital of Baja California, and attempts at developing the area were made by the English Mexican Land and Colonization Company. These were interrupted by the Mexican Revolution, which left the area devastated. In 1915, the capital was transferred to Mexicali, and in 1930 the population of Ensenada was only 5,000. During the early part of the twentieth century, the city's name was shortened from Ensenada de Todos Santos to Ensenada, a change made in order to avoid confusion with Todos Santos in Baja California Sur.
The twentieth-century development of Ensenada was assisted by prohibition, which sent Americans and Canadians south of their border in search of entertainment and alcohol, developing first Tijuana, then Rosarito, and finally Ensenada as tourist destinations. The Hotel Riviera del Pacífico was opened in 1930, briefly placing Ensenada on the international glamor map and was visited several times by President Miguel Aleman, international artists and political personalities; yet unlike the Hotel del Coronado, it was never a sustained success (despite giving rise to the claim that the Margarita was invented there). It really flourished only in the early 1950s, at which time Ensenada's population had risen to 20,000. The hotel finally closed in 1964. It was later reopened as a cultural center and museum. By this time, other hotels had opened, and the population and economy of Ensenada had grown and diversified towards their present status. On January 26 of 2007 Pope Benedict XVI created the Diocese of Ensenada with territory taken from the Archdiocese of Tijuana and Mexicali Diocese, making it a suffragan of the Metropolitan Church of Tijuana.
Ensenada is predominantly a mid-rise building beach city. The only high-rise building within its city limits is the Villa Marina Hotel, though new buildings and resorts in northwestern Ensenada such as Entremar, La Costa, and Viento add to the city's skyline and form the majority of the city's highrise buildings. Emblematic sites representative of Ensenada such as the Civic Plaza (or Plaza of the Three Heads as commonly known to locals), containing sculptures of Mexican heroes Benito Juarez, Venustiano Carranza and Miguel Hidalgo, the enormous Mexican flag, and the Malecon boardwalk - and Naval cruise terminal are found on and near the coast of the bay. Several marinas including Ensenada Cruiseport Village, Hotel Coral & Marina, Punta Morro Resort are located on the city's coast. The Bajamar Oceanfront Golf Resort at Baja Mar is also located nearby to the north, and is a prominent seaside resort of Baja California.
Ensenada's diversity as a city is in part attributed to Spanish, Russian, and American influences. Spanish missionaries and Russian settlers began the growth of the wine industry in the city. Reminiscent of this time period are Russian museums in the city.The city is known for its festivities and laid-back atmosphere, the city hosts many events including the Wine Harvest Festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia) and Ensenada Carnaval. The Wine Harvest Festival celebrates the wine harvest season and in the city and nearby Guadalupe Valley, a series of events takes place.