Real de Catorce
Once abandoned and forgotten, this mountain village has been transformed into a sacred pilgrimage site that draws people from all over the world.
Real de Catorce, a small mining town in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, was once a bustling hub of activity due to the abundant silver deposits in the area. However, in the early 20th century, after years of extracting minerals, the town's silver reserves were depleted, leading to a decline in its once-thriving economy. Despite this, the town was never wholly deserted. Some residents chose to stay, and over time, the town evolved into a unique blend of history and modernity, attracting tourists worldwide. Today, Real de Catorce is a popular destination for those seeking adventure and a glimpse into Mexico's rich cultural heritage.
Real de Catorce is a small town located in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The town is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, especially the desert region called Wirikuta, considered sacred land by the Huichol people. The Huichol have been visiting the town for centuries, making it a significant pilgrimage site for their spiritual practices. The town is also a place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, who visit the Parish of Immaculate Conception Cathedral, built in the 18th century, to ask for favors from Saint Francis of Assisi. The cathedral is an impressive structure with a Baroque-stle facade and contains a beautiful collection of religious art and sculptures. Real de Catorce is a unique destination that offers visitors a glimpse into Mexico's cultural and spiritual heritage.
The town has transformed, and now it is a hub for tourists who seek an experience that is out of the ordinary. The town was home to silver mines closed over a century ago, causing the population to decrease significantly to just a few hundred residents. However, today, the town has around a thousand permanent residents, and its economy thrives on tourism. The influx of visitors keeps the small hotels in the town busy, boosting the local economy.
Despite being a small town, it is fascinating to walk through the streets and experience its rich history. Unfortunately, the town, which was once a bustling hub of economic activity, lost its charm due to the closure of several industries. As a result, most of the town is abandoned. However, once you're there, take advantage of visiting the historic bullfighting ring, which dates back to the early 1900s. The ring has a fascinating history, and its amphitheatre has hosted several notable events.
If you're up for some adventure, hike up to the hills. The view from the top is spectacular, with a panoramic view of the town and its surroundings. The hike may be challenging, but it's worth it.
Throughout the town, you'll come across several Huichol vendors selling their intricate and colourful artwork. The Huichol people have a long history of making art, and their work is highly sought after. Be sure to look at their artwork, including beaded jewellery, yarn paintings, and sculptures made of wood and clay. Not only will you get to admire their craftsmanship, but you'll also be supporting the local economy.
To reach the town by car, the only available route is through the Ogarrio Tunnel, which spans over 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres). While this tunnel is a necessary and convenient way to access the town, it's essential to be aware of the potential dangers in the area. One such danger is the peyote cactus, known for its psychoactive properties. It's worth noting that possessing this cactus is illegal for all individuals except the indigenous population. Therefore, if you're not an indigenous community member, avoiding handling or consuming this cactus in any form is best.