Real del Catorce: A Magical Journey to the Heart of the Mexican desert


If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable destination in Mexico, you should consider visiting Real del Catorce, a former mining town that has become a tourist attraction and a sacred site for the Huichol people. Located in the Sierra de Catorce, in the state of San Luis Potosi, Real del Catorce offers a blend of history, culture, nature, and mysticism that will captivate you.

To reach Real del Catorce, you have to pass through the Ogarrio Tunnel, a 2.3 km long passage that was built in 1897 to facilitate the transportation of silver. The tunnel is an adventure in itself, as you can either drive through it or walk along its dark and narrow path, observing the old shafts and a small chapel along the way¹.

Once you emerge from the tunnel, you will be greeted by a charming village with stone streets and colonial buildings that preserve the atmosphere of the past. Real del Catorce was founded in 1778 and reached its peak of prosperity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, thanks to its rich silver mines². However, after the Mexican Revolution and the decline of silver prices, the town was abandoned and became almost a ghost town.

Today, Real del Catorce has regained its vitality and attracts visitors from all over the world who want to explore its attractions and experience its magic. Some of the places you can visit are:

  • The Old Mint: This building was where the silver coins were minted from 1815 to 1865. Now it is a cultural center that exhibits coins, paintings, photographs, and Huichol art.
  • The Parish of the Immaculate Conception: This church was built in 1780 and has a beautiful baroque facade and a wooden altar. It is also the place where San Francisco de Asis, or Santo Charrito, is venerated by thousands of pilgrims every year on October 4th¹.
  • The Bullring and the Cockpit: These are two examples of recreational activities that were popular among the miners and their families. The bullring dates back to 1840 and has a capacity for 3,000 spectators. The cockpit is located next to it and still hosts cockfights on weekends.
  • The Ghost Town: This is what the locals call the area where the ruins of the old mining facilities are located. You can see the remains of the smelters, mills, warehouses, and houses that once belonged to the wealthy mine owners. The place has a haunting atmosphere and offers stunning views of the desert².

Besides these historical sites, Real del Catorce also offers natural wonders and spiritual experiences. You can take a jeep or horseback ride to the nearby mountains and valleys, where you can admire the cacti, agaves, and other desert plants. You can also visit Wirikuta, the sacred land of the Huichol people, who consider it their place of origin and where they perform their annual pilgrimage to collect peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that they use for their rituals.

Real del Catorce is more than just a tourist destination; it is a place where you can connect with yourself and with nature. It is a place where you can feel the energy and the mystery that surrounds it. It is a place where you can discover a different side of Mexico.

If you are interested in visiting Real del Catorce in 2023, you can find more information on these websites:

San Luis Potosi Post