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Real De Catorce

Photo credit: Michael Swigart
Real De Catorce
  • (worth a detour)
  • 5-10 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • full day
  • 2 2

A ghost town in Mexico

Real de Catorce San Luis Potosi Mexico

Located in the state of San Luis Potosí in Northern Mexico. Originally a mining town and then a ghost town with no inhabitants, Real De Catorce is now a tourist attraction. The story behind this place is quite fantastic.


It was founded around the year 1772, when mines of silver where discovered. People headed there to try their luck. The place was hard to get to due to the aridity of the area. There was a lack of food and water and no roads were built to get there, making it a real, but worthy challenge.


The place quickly became a legend abroad and many foreigners headed there. The silver was easy to get at first; needing nothing more than a shovel to access it. Soon after, however, when Mexico’s Independence War began, the works were suspended until 1821, when foreign companies found an interest in the town and the work started again. Miners weren’t paid in salary, but instead given a portion of the sold silver. It was a period of financial wellness for everyone until a few years later, the model changed and workers were paid in coupons for food that were only exchangeable at certain stores, usually the ones owned by the same person who owned the mine they worked at.


From 1885 to 1905, laws favored the mining industry and Real De Catorce came back to life. Rich people moved there and soon after, a theater and a bull fight ring were constructed to entertain its inhabitants. Importantion reached the town and foreign wines and clothes could be purchased at stores. Houses, cathedrals and parks were built. It soon became a prosperous town and more and more people were eager to move there. A tunnel was constructed to facilitate access and it still serves the same purpose to date.


During Mexico’s Revolution, however, works were stopped and Real De Catorce’s inhabitants soon began to leave until there were only about two hundred left.


Several decades later, during the seventies, it became a popular destination due to peyote, a natural drug that could be found in the Sierra. To date, people still travel here to experience hallucinations created by the drug.


Recently, it was denominated as one of Mexico’s “Magical Towns” and has become a popular destination for Mexicans and foreigners alike. Even though there is no silver left, Real De Catorce is, once again, living its success not as a mining town anymore, but as a tourist attraction due to its history and undeniable beauty.



Opening hours


How to get there

Once in San Luis Potosí, you need to take a bus to Matehuala. Once there, in the same bus station, buses to Real De Catorce depart every day at 8:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 18:00.

More Pictures

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