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Roger Weller, geology instructor                     

Selene Lopez Najera
Physical Geology
Fall 2005

                                     The Reappearance of Real De Catorce, Mexico



In 1639, the discovery of two veins of silver, produced in a geologic fault, was the beginning of Real de Catorce as a prolific mining settlement.  The Marqués de Cadereyta, Viceroy of the New Spain, named the town as Real de Álamos de la Purísima Concepción de los Catorce.  In 1770, more veins of silver were found producing a “silver fever” and economic growth to the point in which Real de Catorce had 15,000 inhabitants.  At that time, half of the silver world’s production was extracted from the Mexican mines in Zacatecas, Guanajuato and Catorce, though the first two states surpassed Catorce’s production. 



     In 1865, by order of President Benito Juarez, the Mexican government established a mint in Real de Catorce for the creation of official coins, but the mint closed in 1866 due to the political instability of the time.  In 1910, further political instability caused by the Mexican Revolution forced the closing of mines, and the population’s abandonment of Real de Catorce.  By 1920, there were less than 300 inhabitants in Catorce, the reason why the town was considered a “ghost town,” even up to this day.


Better known nowadays as Real de Catorce, this little town of 1200 inhabitants is located 284 km (176.49mi.) at north of the city of San Luis Potosi in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

            Located few miles north form the Tropic of Cancer, Real de Catorce belongs to the Altiplano Zone.  Real de Catorce’s altitude is 2,800m (9,186 feet).  Its highest summit reaches 3,100m (10,170mi.), and its mountains are part of the Sierra Madre Oriental.  The Altiplano Zone represents the biggest area of San Luis Potosi state. 


     The weather in Real de Catorce is dry steppe.  The annual average temperature is 16.6°C (61.88°F).  The absolute highest temperature is 42.6°C (108.68°F), and the minimum absolute is 9°C (48.20°F).  Annual precipitation is 311 millimeters.


     Real de Catorce’s vegetation is typical of arid zones such as desert scrubs, microfolio, spiny scrub, and a great variety of Cactaceae. Animal such as Zopilote (a bird of prey), rattlesnakes, and hares.



    The city of Matehuala is the point of reference in the Altiplano Zone.  Matehuala is located 196km (121.79 mi.) north San Luis Potosi city following the federal highway 57 Mexico-Piedras Negras.  Once in Matehuala, take the Interstate highway 62 Cedral-Venegas.   27km (16.74 mi.) north is the junction to Real De Catorce where 25km (15.50mi.) of road paved with stones will take you to Real de Catorce.

    Bus service from Matehuala to Real de Catorce is also available in the Central de Autobuses in Matehuala.




The economic activity in Real de Catorce is mainly tourism in its different forms: alternative tourism, cultural tourism, and religious tourism.

Real de Catorce offers different tourist activities.  One of the attractions for religious tourists is the worship to the patron saint, San Francisco de Asis (Saint Francis of Assisi).  Throughout the year, thousands of people go to Real de Catorce to visit the altar and the image of this saint that is famous for his miraculous works.

Real de Catorce is also known as a ceremonial center for the Wixarrica, or the Huicholes indigenous people.  Every year, after a long peregrination, Huicholes tribe members climb to the mountain Leunar, or El Quemado, to perform ceremonies and offer gifts to the gods for being able to get to the Origin Land or Kirikuta.  Of all the sacred places for the Huichol tribe, this ceremonial center is the one farthest to the east.


Other tourist activities are tours on horseback to the mountains and ruins of old haciendas.  Also walking around the town to visit its different points of interest.


The access to the town is through the Tunel Ograrrio (Ogrario Tunnel) that is 2.3km long (1.43mi).  It was built in 1901.



Out of the town:

·         Visit El Quemado Hill for wonderful landscapes.  Guided horse rides are available to the different Catorce’s hills.

·         Visit the Oregano Hill.

·         Visit “The Ghost Town,” In the upper part of the Ogarrio Tunnel, after the mine La Concepcion are the ruins of what in the old days was a warehouse for the mining company’s supplies.

·         You can also visit the mines:

§         Dolores Trompeta

§         Padre Flores

§         Milagros or del Negrito

§         San Agustin


·         Ecotourism activities such as photographic tours in the area, paragliding, riding tours, tour in jeep by the Old Road, and mountain bicycle tours.

In the town:

Real de Catorce is a very calm place. It does not offer night live.

·         Parish church of La Purísima Concepción. Restored in 1939 by the priest Albino Enriquez. A tower was added to the building. Porfirio Díaz donated its clock in his 1895 visit to the Santa Ana mine.

·         The Casa de la Moneda (The Mint).  Located in front of the parish church. During its period of operation (1863-1866) it minted one and a half million pesos.

·         The Parish Museum, where old photographs and objects found in mines and constructions are exhibited.

·         La Casa del Peregrino (The pilgrim house), located in Lanzagorta street.

·         The Municipal Palace.

·         The Commerce Square.  There is a metal kiosk in its center.

·         The cemetery and its chapel. One of the oldest building in Real de Catorce.  Located in front of the Bullring.

·         Palenque (Center of shows, cultural events and cock fights).

·         Parish church of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

·         Calzada Zaragoza

·         Santiago Bridge

·         Jesus Bridge

·         La Purisima Bridge

·         La Teneria Bridge




·         From October 1st to 10th, there are different festivities for the patron saint Saint Francis of Assisi.  There are processions, Chichimeca dances, and music.

·         Festival del Desieto.  Every year around the month of October, this cultural event is celebrated. There are different activities such as music and dance performances, plastic arts shows, book fair, film show, guided tours, and children activities .


Guide service.


Sr. Jorge Quijano

(Catorce’s native)

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5013




El Real                        

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5058

El Meson de la Abundancia

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5044

El Corrar del Conde

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5048

La Puesta del Sol

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5005


Casa Cactus

Casa Sierra Catorce

Casa Cosntanza

Hostal Alcazaba


La Providencia

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5032

San Francisco

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5119

San Juan        

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5029

El Porton Azul

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5013

Real de Alamos

Tel.: 011 52 (488) 887 5009




It is permitted to camp in the hills. If you are interested in this option, make sure to bring enough blankets to cover from the cold nights. Camping it’s free.




El cactus 

La Esquina Chata

Italian café and restaurant. Located in Plaza Hidalgo.

El Minero

Located in front of the hotel Meson de la Abundancia.

Calle Lazangorza


Antojitos (local food) Different little places offering local food. The best gorditas de nopales, and fresh goat cheese.


For more Information:

Tourism Office

Alvaro Obregón No. 520
San Luis Potosí, S.L.P.

CP 78000

Tel: 011 52 (444) 812-9939

Tel: 011 52 (444) 812 9906

Fax: 011 52 (444) 812-6769

Guided Tours

01 (488) 887 5013

Horse Rides

01 (488) 887 5036


011 52 (488) 882 0824, 011 52 (444) 813 4875