Valenciana Mina, Guanajuato Mine Guide
Guanajuato's fortunes were built upon the riches discovered deep beneath the city, in the silver veins that crossed the surrounding hills. The La Valenciana Mine was the deepest and most extensive mining network of the region that extracted vast amounts of silver. The surface side of the mine has been restored to how it was at the height of the operation during the 17th century and provides visitors the chance to descend the first 60 meters of the mineshafts.
The 17th century buildings of the main mine complex
Tourist Guide about the La Valenciana Mine Guanajuato
The La Valenciana Mine complex is 7 km to the north of Guanajuato, atop one of the numerous hills that surround the city. The $30.00 pesos entrance fee pays to descend the tunnel and in theory the fee is required only to enter the mineshaft so the rest of the complex if free to visit. Overall, the mining complex and mine is a good tourist attraction which takes approximately 30 min to 1 hour to explore and should be visited as part of any trip to the church of “Templo La Valenciana” (Temple La Valenciana).
Review of La Valenciana Mine Guanajuato
The mining shaft descends for 60m in tunnels that were blasted out by dynamite and are not suitable for tourists with heart/back issues or who are claustrophobic. At the bottom of the stairs the mining passage is light with dim lighting to recreate the poor candle lighting experienced by the miners. The passage ends in a large cavern with present day drill equipment and the walls display signs of the silver ore. The chilling sight here is the two very small passages leading on further into the mining network. From here it was crawling only for the miners in a near pitch-blackness.
The remainder of the mining complex has been restored to how it was during the vice royalty period (17th century) and on display are mining tools and equipment. The office has been recreated with ledges and details of the mining operations. One disturbing sight is a miner whose body has been mummified. The coffin is open for all visitors to view.
The old tools for the trade of silver
Sadly there are few descriptions within the mining buildings, none are written in English and the tour provided by ex-miners is only spoken in Spanish. Disappointingly, some guidebooks describe the La Valenciana Mine as “not much to see”. It is true that the mineshaft is short, but the entire complex is worthy of a visit especially when combined with the magnificent Temple La Valenciana.
Valenciana Mine Guanajuato Guide and History
The massive silver vein of La Valenciana was discovered in 1750 with the mining operations starting in 1774. The mine made the Spanish owners and the Counts of Valenciana extremely wealthy.
The silver reserves of Guanajuato were huge and produced 20% of the era’s total silver while the La Valenciana Mine dug out 30% of the world’s yearly total of silver. Below the surface, up to 3,300 indigenous Mexicans were enslaved and forced to work for the Spanish Nobel’s and ultimately the Spanish Crown, but in return the Temple La Valenciana was built for them to pray in their new converted religion..
The ancient bar in the mine complex
After the independence of Mexico, in 1821, the miners who worked in the La Valenciana Mine were paid wages but the mine became perilously dangerous as the depths of the mineshafts increased. The mineshaft and tunnel network extends for 600m down into the hillside and was lit by flaming torches, some of which scorch marks can still be seen on the tunnel walls. Visitors can get a sense of the remoteness, danger and claustrophobia at only 60m of depth.
A small figure of Mary is carved into stonewall, so that miners could pray before descending into, what was considered the “depths of hell”. The superstitious miners could thank Mary for protecting them and for their safe return. This statue is at the bottom of the first flight of stairs on the right side.