Mineral de Pozos: Exploring the Mining Ghost Town of Guanajuato
The “ghost town” of Mineral de Pozos is full of mining history, traditions, architectural beauty, and ancient and modern festivities.
Today, I will share with you a complete guide to this Magical Town of Guanajuato.
Mineral de Pozos, or simply Pozos, is a town with a bohemian air, cobblestone streets, and traditional houses, located in the municipality of San Luis de la Paz, northeast of the state of Guanajuato.
Most of its architectural heritage was built as a mining center for silver and other metals during its heyday.
This physical heritage, together with its mining history, traditions, and artistic, festive, and cultural vocation, facilitated its rank to Mexican Magical Town in 2012.
Where is Mineral de Pozos?
Mineral de Pozos is 115 km from Guanajuato city, traveling northeast towards Dolores Hidalgo, while León, the largest city in Guanajuato, is 184 km away.
The cities of Santiago de Querétaro and San Luis Potosí are also very close to the Pueblo Mágico; Mexico City is relatively close, 312 km distance.
Historical features of Mineral de Pozos
In the middle of the 16th century, the Spaniards built a fort in the current territory of Pozos to protect the silver extracted from the mines of Zacatecas without suspecting that they were on top of some enormous seams of the metal.
In its subsequent mining vicissitudes, the town was abandoned and repopulated on two occasions until mining activity ceased in the 1920s.
Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Mineral de Pozos experienced the mining splendor that bequeathed most of its rich heritage.
What is the climate like?
The average temperature in Mineral de Pozos is 16° C, varying between 10° C in the coldest months and 20° C in the warmest ones.
It begins to warm up in May, and the temperature rises from 18 to 20° C until September.
In Pozos, it rains only 500 mm, and most of it occurs between June and September.
Best things to do in Mineral de Pozos
Mineral de Pozos has a legendary mining past, represented by the mines of Santa Brigida, 5 Señores, and others in which several metals were exploited.
Beautiful architectural testimonies are preserved from the town’s golden age, such as the San Pedro Apóstol Parish Church, several other chapels, the Juárez Garden, and the School of Arts and Crafts.
The calendar is full of festivals and cultural events in Pozos, such as its religious festivals and its Mariachi, Mixcoacalli, Toltequidad, Film, and Blues festivals.
A ghost town?
Mineral de Pozos still retains the distinction of “ghost town” for having been abandoned on two occasions by the fall and rise of precious metals and natural calamities.
From its times as a ghost town, some relics can be seen, mixed with the constructions that have resisted the passage of time, such as its beautiful civil and religious buildings and its mansions converted into boutiques, galleries, hotels, and other establishments.
Visit the Parish of San Pedro Apostle
This 18th-century church of neoclassical lines has a large white dome that stands out from the rest of the building.
The spectacular dome is supported and ornamented by a pink colonnade and is crowned by a cross.
Inside, the walls are covered with frescoes imitating mosaics; the organ brought from Spain, and the pulpit decorated with red details also stands out.
The Señor de Los Trabajos is venerated in the temple, a Christ with a curious history (see below).
What is the history of the Señor de Los Trabajos?
The Señor de Los Trabajos enjoyed great veneration among the miners of Mineral de Pozos, and the tradition continued after the closing of the last mine in 1927.
The “Lord of the Jobs” was destined to have his chapel, and construction began in front of the Miner’s Plaza, although it was not finished, even though the image of the Christ of the Jobs had already arrived in town.
Then the villagers installed the revered figure in the Church of San Pedro Apostle, and the Lord of the Jobs is a patron saint of the miners without his temple, although his fiesta on Ascension Thursday is grandiose.
The Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on Thursday, 40 days after Easter Sunday.
For the occasion, Mineral de Pozos is the scene of the festivities of the Lord of the Jobs, one of the most emotional and massive Mexican religious festivities.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the country flock to the Magical Town of Guanajuato.
Besides the religious acts, there are presentations of pre-Hispanic dance groups, folkloric ballets, musical groups, theater, and other attractions.
The Juarez Garden
This beautiful garden was built during the 20th century and serves as the main square of Pozos.
It is located where the first Fábricas de Francia (a fancy fashion and department store) in Mexico opened its doors.
The garden is adorned by a beautiful hexagonal kiosk built by hand in the excellent work of the local blacksmiths. At one end of the Jardín Juárez is a distinguished art gallery.
Escuela Modelo de Artes y Oficios (Model School of Arts and Crafts)
This attractive neoclassical building was built at the beginning of the 20th century during the Porfirian era.
It became the most important arts and crafts school in Guanajuato, where the young children of the miners learned saddlery, goldsmithing, and the manufacture of pre-Hispanic musical instruments.
At the same time, their parents went to earn their living in the dangerous galleries.
In 2014, the building underwent a restoration process that allowed it to recover its former majesty.
Explore the Mineral de Pozos Santa Brígida Mine ruins
In the middle of the xerophytic vegetation of the Guanajuato semi-desert, near Mineral de Pozos, three pyramidal towers with truncated ends can be seen, cut out against the arid landscape.
They constitute what was once the entry point of the Santa Brigida beneficiation hacienda.
This mine rich in gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, and mercury, was one of the first in Guanajuato and a symbol of the past mining splendor of Mineral de Pozos.
Can I visit the inside of the mines?
It is possible to take guided tours of some of the mines in Mineral de Pozos, to see the places where the town’s enormous past wealth came from, as well as the tunnels where the workers sweated for a living among the rich seams, in exchange for a modest salary.
The mines that can be toured are Santa Brigida, Las Muñecas, 5 Señores, and San Rafael.
What is in the Mineral de Pozos Lavender Ranch?
Lavender is a plant that adapts well to the semi-desert area of Guanajuato.
Its flowers adorn and perfume Rancho de La Lavanda, the current name of the old Hacienda Las Barrancas, located about 15 minutes from Mineral de Pozos.
The visit to the ranch is free, and you can learn about the production and drying process of some types of lavender flowers.
The ranch has a beautiful cactus garden and some furnished houses that can be rented.
La Leyenda de Las Brujas (Witches’ Legend)
One of those good ol’ Mexican legends, popular in Mineral de Pozos, is Las Brujas (The Witches).
According to the myth, the witches take the form of fireballs that fly over the mountains and penetrate the tunnels of abandoned mines, terrorizing those who have ventured into the deserted subway spaces.
If you should stumble upon one of these witches on your visit to town, don’t even think of looking her in the face because you will only gain several years of bad luck.
When is the International Mariachi Festival?
Mineral de Pozos dresses up in April to welcome the mariachis from Guanajuato, Mexico, and the world in the International Mariachi Festival.
The great groups of the folkloric musical genre, with members dressed in their ornate charro costumes, let their voices, trumpets, violins, guitars, and drums be heard in every corner of the town.
The event closes in the most emotional way possible, with all the groups performing, along with the thousands of spectators, the classic piece Camino de Guanajuato by the icon of typical Mexican music, José Alfredo Jiménez.
This event of indigenous spirit is held in April at Plaza Zaragoza in Mineral de Pozos to keep alive and promote Chichimeca cultural manifestations, particularly their music.
Apart from pre-Hispanic music, there are also dance performances in which the dancers of the Chichimeca Mission exhibit their rhythms and colorful costumes.
Other events have been added to the festival since 2010, such as symphonic quartet presentations and puppet shows.
International Blues Festival
This festival, dedicated to the melancholic musical genre developed by African-Americans in the United States, takes place in June, with the participation of groups from California, Texas, and other North American states, who join groups from Guanajuato, Querétaro, Zacatecas, Nuevo León, and other Mexican states.
The great historical blues performers are remembered at the festival, which generally has a figure of international resonance in the genre as its guest of honor.
Toltequidad Cultural Festival
This festival, rooted in Toltec culture, also takes place in the Plaza Zaragoza in Mineral de Pozos for three days in July.
It is the oldest cultural event in Mineral de Pozos.
It features musical, theatrical, and choreographic performances, poetry, and literary events.
It has a format similar to that of the Cervantino International Festival and is considered the second most important in the state after that of the city of Guanajuato.
Mineral de Pozos International Film Festival
Pozos’s cultural and entertainment activity only stops briefly to take a break. The Pozos International Independent Film Festival is held for one week in October.
It was born in 2002 as a space to promote new talents with difficulties accessing commercial cinema.
It has a very open format, and the duration of the productions is complimentary, while filmmakers can present as many works as they wish.
Some national and foreign artists have settled in Pozos, opening several galleries to exhibit paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other collectibles.
The tradition of making pre-Hispanic musical instruments, learned by those who attended the School of Arts and Crafts at the beginning of the 20th century during the mining splendor of Mineral de Pozos, is still preserved.
These and other handcrafted objects are available in stores around Jardín Juárez.
What is the gastronomy of Mineral de Pozos like?
Lettuce salad with watermelon is a local classic, and gazpachos, artisan cheeses, and squash blossom quesadillas.
The tradition of eating insects is still alive, and if you dare you can try chapulines, ahuautles, and cupiches.
However, you may prefer to stick to the traditional mezcal worms and escamoles.
These are exotic dishes that cost a little more than an ordinary meal.
Lodging options in Mineral de Pozos
A good part of the visitors to Mineral de Pozos stays in the nearby hotels.
- My first recommendation has to be El Secreto de Pozos, a nice little hotel in the center of town, praised for its cleanliness and excellent breakfast (it also has this mysterious vibe that takes you back in time)
- La Posada de las Minas, at Manuel Doblado 1, is a cozy mansion with spacious rooms
- Hotel Su Casa is located 86 km. from downtown Pozos and has beautifully decorated rooms in a very clean environment
Where to eat?
- The restaurant at the Posada de las Minas is a place that stands out for its beauty, warmth, and personalized service. They serve Mexican food, and their chile rellenos are highly praised
- Café D’La Fama, at Miguel Hidalgo 1, is a good place to have a coffee and serves Italian food
- Pizzanchela is a nice pizzeria located in Plaza Zaragoza.
- La Pila Seca, across from Jardín Juárez, serves Mexican food and has attractive decor
Ready to tour the galleries and admire the deep mine shafts of the old mines of Pozos?
Ready to go and enjoy one of its religious or cultural festivals?
I hope this guide will help you get to know this attractive Magical Town of Guanajuato better.
Also, don’t forget to share it on social media so more people can visit and thus, support the local economy. Vamonos!