Guanajuato and the Valenciana Mine

Nancy climbing above Valenciana mine and church
Originally uploaded by refay.
As we came in to Guanajuato, we were 5 kilometers (2 miles) above the center of center of town with million dollar view. We stopped at the first of many famous old churches. “Templo La Valenciana” A church built by a miner who promised if he made it rich he would build a church. The miner found the mother lode which produced 20% of the world silver plus gold, nickel and lead. As a result of his promise he built “Temple La Valenciana” which contains gold and silver ornated altars, carvings and giant paintings.

In Valenciana mine with our guide Carlos
In Valenciana Mine with our guide Carlos
We took a tour of La Valenciana mine, which started operation 250 years ago and is still in operation. Though you cannot tour the active part of the mine, you can tour the mine near the church. Randy and I where the only two people there in the early morning so Carlos took us through the one of the first working shafts in the mine. Carlos, a 57-year-old retired miner at this mine, was so careful to explain things in slow, simple Spanish with wonderful animated motions that we came away with feeling this was the best tour we have taken in Mexico. We decended into the bowels of the mine, step by step through the 9 meter tunnel down into the middle of the earth. The rope attached to the side of the wall helped us from falling down the mouth of this 750 meter shaft. Though we only descended 70 meters, it was deep enough for me to get a feeling of claustrophobia that I had to quiet. The tour was too interesting to be interrupted such silly fears. Carlos re-enacted what it was like to live and work in the mine for the early Indians who did not see sunlight during an average day which usually was a 12 hour day. The workers started working at 14 years of age because they where small and could fit in tight spots. They worked in darkness and memorize the layout of the mine. Most died of lung aliments by their late 20´s.