5 old mining towns that you will want to visit

They are vestiges of mining activity in colonial times and true tourist centers that attract for their atmosphere

Sewell, Chilean mining city.

Sewell, Chilean mining city. / Photo:

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Liborio

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Leer en español: 5 antiguos pueblos mineros que querrás visitar

Take a tour through the mining past of Latin America by visiting 5 fantastic villages, some even abandoned, but in the past centers of abundant wealth for the Spanish crown or for large companies of the nineteenth century. Tourism has revived them and some now hold the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. If you visit Chile, Peru, Mexico or Bolivia do not forget to visit these old mining centers.

1. Santa Barbara, Huancavelica, Peru

Nestled in Huancavelica, Peru, the Santa Barbara mine was an important mercury extraction center that, according to the Andean agency, is the only one of its kind in America. With the decline of mining in this region, the city was abandoned, leaving its architecture as a sign of its splendor, so it currently aspires to be a World Heritage Site.

The best way to get there is through one of the guided tours in the so-called Azogue Circuit, which includes a visit to the Sacsamarca town and the Santa Barbara mine, where the old church stands out according to the site. It is a relatively remote site so you must have physical conditioning to walk for at least 45 minutes at a height of 3,780 meters, but it will definitely be worth it.

2. Salitreras de Humberstone and Santa Laura, Tarapacá Region, Chile

Like other large mining centers, these saltpeter offices are located in an arid zone in the Chilean desert. The landscape is inhospitable, between the age of its constructions and the color of the sand, you can have postcards worthy of some strange Star Wars planet. The National Monuments Council of Chile highlights the importance of these offices. At the time, "white gold", as salt was called, was the engine of the region's economy, until its decline in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

To visit this treasure you need approximately 5 hours on guided tours, leaving from the port of Iquique, the nearest city.

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Una publicación compartida por Marca Chile (@marcachile) el

3. Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Mexico is currently one of the largest producers of silver in the world, a distinction that it boasts from colonial times and largely owes it to Real de Catorce, a former impressive mining town. According to the newspaper El Financiero, the name derives from the death of 14 soldiers, which gives an idea of how it looks, being located in an arid zone it definitely looks like a place taken from the American "old west".

Among its main attractions is its tunnel and the routes on foot or on horseback along the ruins of the old mining town. Despite that inhospitable landscape now Real de Catorce is a "Magic Town" (Distinction of the Mexican government to towns of great tourist importance). To a large extent, its tourism development was thanks to the international projection granted by the film "La Mexicana" starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, a true "movie destination" as El Financiero describes it.

4. Sewell, O'Higgins Region, Chile

The importance of Chile as a mining center is indisputable, British and American companies were established during much of the nineteenth century to exploit its wealth. Sewell is evidence of that past that today is Cultural Heritage of Humanity and because of the way it is built it is called "the city of stairs." Unlike the other mines on the list, it is located at the foot of the Andes, so it looks white in some months of the year. According to information from the company, Tour Sewell is a site with several points to visit: the residential area, the civic neighborhood, the church, the main square and even a museum dedicated to copper.

The tour lasts approximately 8 hours, departing from the city Rancagua, which is located just 60 km from Sewell, one hour in travel time.

5. Cerro Rico, Potosí, Bolivia

You could not miss Bolivia on this tour, Potosí is definitely a legendary place worldwide when it comes to mining. One of the most interesting places to visit is the Cerro Rico, a mountain 5,000 meters above sea level where mining existed even before the arrival of the Spaniards. According to The Flying Drawer , a travel site, the hill has been an important silver producing center that has survived to this day. The settlements located on the slopes of the hill have given rise to villages with a magical atmosphere that you cannot miss during your visit.

Because of its importance, Potosí is a city well connected to the main cities of Bolivia, La Paz is 11 hours away, Sucre 3, Uyuni 7 and Oruro 8, so it will not be difficult to get there. In addition to the mining sites you will also find a "mining market" with tools and other products such as coca leaf, used to resist the symptoms of height, it should be noted that it is one of the highest cities in the world.


Una publicación compartida por Sonsoles Casete (@scasete) el


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