Real de Catorce is one of the gems
Secluded in a valley, flanked by mountains and surrounded by
Desert, Real de Catorce (elevation 2,756 meters, 9,040 feet)
is undoubtedly Mexico's most famous ghost town -- actually a
misnomer since it not only shows signs of life, but of renaissance.
Real de Catorce is one of Mexico's acclaimed Silver Cities
and at the height of its fortune a century ago, it was the marvel
of the whole of Mexico. But the fates were not kind. Silver
prices crashed in 1905, and in turn, so did Real.
Fast forward one hundred years and the town is desperately
trying to move beyond its celebrated ghost town image. Certainly,
it maintains its grand visual appeal, not to mention magic,
but residents would like to see some much-needed support for
century-old buildings and even more ancient tradition.
A featured attraction in the state of San
Luis Potosi, the city has received increased investment
and attention in the past decade.
The altiplano environment offers great hiking, biking and horseback
riding for visitors.
The markets near the San Francisco church sell religious artifacts
as well as jewelry.
Real takes its name from the 'Royal 14' a party
of Spanish soldiers who died in a skirmish with Indians in the
region in the early1700s. After the discovery of silver, Real
was founded in 1773.
Real de Catorce was built during the colonial
mining boom as a veritable outpost
of progress. By the late 19th century, Real de Catorce was
a thriving desert metropolis of 40,000 people, generating three
million dollars a year in silver. The two kilometer Ogarrio
Tunnel was carved in the mountain. The city's wealth can be
seen in numerous residences, public buildings, churches and
the stone bull ring.
But a slump in the price of silver in the 20th
century took its toll on the town, as did the 1910 Mexican Revolution.