The conquest of Mexico by Cortez started close-by, in La Antigua, first town founded by the Spaniards, the ruins of which can now be visited. Within a few decades, the bay of the "True Cross" had become the main port, linking New Spain to the Old Continent, until the Independence. Its strategic position and riches made it a target for French, Dutch and English pirates before being invaded by Napoleon III's expeditionary corps, then by the American army. Veracruz, in constant economic evolution, is also a fascinating cultural melting pot, where Mexican and Caribbean influences blend. Its fantastic carnival bears witness of this by inflaming the city during the nine days before Ash Wednesday (February-March). A city tour would start from the Zocalo which gets so lively at night time. Facing the Old Town, the wonderfully restored citadel of San Juan de Ulúa, made out of coral stone, watches over the port of Veracruz.