In another surprise day trip, planned two hours before leaving, we visited a place called Mineral de Pozos. Mineral de Pozos is a Pueblo Mágico (magical town or village) and the second place we’ve visited with that designation. The town itself is a clean little place with some lovely cafes and shops. While it may be awesome, our destination was one of the mines in Pozos: the Santa Brígida Mine.
What is so special about this place?
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Mineral de Pozos, the abandoned mining town
“We are planning to go to Mineral de Pozos today,” my friend texted. “Would you like to come?”
“Yes! What is it?” Note my enthusiasm. It’s real.
“It’s the mining place I told you about, the one with ruins. I have not been there so I don’t know how good it is,” she responded.
She needn’t have worried
She need not have worried, because the mine we saw in Pozos delivered. Founded in 1576, Pozos has been abandoned by its residents twice and managed to rebound. It is currently on its way to becoming a tourist destination and artists’ haven (a cheaper San Miguel de Allende), with some tourism infrastructure in place. Here’s a lovely English language post that includes a little history of the area, where the author writes that the mines closed around 1927 (which I read in other articles about Pozos). More about this below.
What is summarized in the post above is all the history I can find on the area, so I won’t rehash what others have written. This will mostly focus on our experience at the Santa Brígida Mine ruins.
History of the Santa Brígida Mine
The buildings date to the 1500s and are just glorious. We were unable to procure a tour in English (I’m unsure if the demand is there for English speaking guides, though other sources say there are some available). Our friends translated some for us. Between this, chasing after kids, and taking a few hundred pictures, I did miss most of the information. What I did hear and understand and what I’m finding online are different.
Most of the information about Mineral de Pozos states that the mines were all closed in the mid 1920s, while we were told that Santa Brígida mine was operating until the 1960s. This blog post, though far from a reliable source, states the same from their tour in 2009. Their tour was from a gentleman who said he worked in the mines until they closed in 1965. Another post, from 2013, has a picture of a gentleman who claimed to be the last miner still living. I’m pretty sure I spoke briefly with this same man during our visit. Sadly, our conversation consisted of me saying, “no entiendo” (I don’t understand). I think we missed out on some living history.
Supposedly, the buildings on the property were all in use until the 1960s, as well. Considering the condition of most, I wouldn’t have suspected that to be the case.
Santa Brígida is a pit mine, meaning it’s a large crevice in the ground. In fact, it’s a scarily large crevice that isn’t blocked by guardrails of any sort. There is still a mineshaft and many random, deep holes around, too. I did not venture near the mineshaft because I didn’t want the kids to get close to it, but my husband and our friend did affirm they heard the bees that live down there. You can descend into it, according to our guide.
A pit full of bees? Hard pass.
What was so Magical?
There is something about visiting ruins that sparks my imagination. These particular ruins also sparked the imagination of my kids. The Santa Brígida Mine ruins are like Minecraft in real life, even without actually going down into the mines.
Two of the children with us are huge Minecraft fans. Their imagination came to life, leapt right out of the ground in front of them. Since many of the buildings were merely walls, they dreamt Minecraft dreams and they were also eager to explore the one building still standing (the picture below is the only one we saw that still has a roof, it was designed to move the air. I cannot explain to you how it works, but maybe this wiki article will help).
Even without descending into the mines, there are a lot of interesting above ground buildings to see. Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable. He had an answer for every question!
Admission (in October, 2017) is 50 pesos per adult. Children under 8 were free.
Snacks, water, and souvenirs were sold near the entrance.
There’s a visitor’s center and History Museum shortly before the turn off from the paved road onto a dirt road. I recommend using the restrooms at the visitor’s center because the restrooms at the ruins were not in functioning order during our visit (no lights, wet seats, and they wouldn’t flush).
Directions to Santa Brígida Mine
It feels like these “off the beaten path” places are more difficult to find than the major tourist destinations. This one was easier to find than Las Sietes Luminarias, though! Once you pull into the dirt road, you should stay on the road that looks like a packed dirt or gravel road. There are additional road offshoots, but they look more like gravel driveways with grass growing in the middle.
Again, we made a few wrong turns and had to back track, so I can’t give you specifics. It wasn’t that difficult and there is a sign now. Though we stumbled into the back end of the ruins first, took a few pictures, and headed to the entrance to pay our fee.
Is it a good place for kids?
While it seemed unassuming at first, you will want to keep a very close eye on your littles. There are multiple unmarked holes (with loooong drops), mine shafts with no barriers, as well as a major ledge without a barrier. I didn’t know of all the dangers until they’d passed, so I was pretty relaxed except around the ledge. However, we did travel with a total of 4 adults and 5 kids, ages 2, 4, 5, and 7. This place might be tough to navigate with walkers through age 2 or 3.
It’s a good idea to see if you can hire a guide, though you will stay pretty safe if you stay on the path and out of any tall grassy areas, which I wouldn’t recommend venturing into anyway, given that you may stumble upon scary insects or snakes. We did have our first wild scorpion sighting, inside a shallow, dry well, in the “courtyard” of the large white and red building.
Will We Return?
I hope so. I feel like a day trip was too short for exploring the mine and Mineral de Pozos. We stopped into the town for ice cream and that’s all we got to see. There’s also a nice museum on the edge of town. This place could easily take two days to explore (unless you like to move fast). Also, it wasn’t crowded during our visit. I recommend going and seeing it for yourself!
And if I haven’t convinced you, read this for more inspiration.
What neat “off the beaten” places have you visited? Did these places surprise or disappoint you?