Real del Monte: Mexico’s Hidden Gem Beckons Explorers
Real del Monte, or Mineral del Monte, is a beautiful Magical Town in Hidalgo.
It is the head of the municipality of the same name, located in the central-south zone of the state, very close to Pachuca.
This charming village has prospered thanks to the mining of precious metals, which allowed it to erect beautiful buildings that were the main reason for its designation as a Magical Town.
Where is Real del Monte, Hidalgo?
Pachuca de Soto (or simply Pachuca), the capital of Hidalgo, is only 20 km From Real del Monte.
Mexico City is also very close, only 125 km northbound from the capital on highway 85D.
Many people visiting the town use the tourist services infrastructure of Pachuca.
Other cities close to Real del Monte are Puebla (154 km), Toluca (185 km), Querétaro (235 km), and Xalapa (300 km).
What is Real del Monte like?
Real del Monte is a town with the layout of the old mining towns, which were built according to the construction needs around the mines exploited.
In the Main Square, located in the center of the town, the mestizo style coexists with the English influence contributed by the British culture of the administrators and technicians of the mines.
Some interesting buildings have survived on the steeply sloping roads before the Main Plaza and other town streets.
The altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level gives Real del Monte an excellent climate that will allow you to feel comfortable and relaxed for your walks and enjoy restaurants, bars, and other places of interest.
The average temperature varies between 12 and 13°C; in the less cold months, which are April and May, it is typically around 20°C on average.
However, there may be times when it gets much hotter, like June through September.
There can also be extremely cold, close to 2° C, so don’t forget to bring a good jacket and appropriate clothing.
In Real del Monte, there’s an average of 870 mm of rainfall per year, mainly between June and September; then, it rains a little in May and October, and in the remaining months, there is almost no rainfall.
How did Real del Monte, Hidalgo, come about?
The rich deposits of gold, silver, copper, and other metals in the current territory of Real del Monte were already known in pre-Hispanic times by the Toltecs and later by the Mexica.
The first Hispanic settlement was called Real del Monte, “Real” by the Spanish crown and “del Monte” because it was located in the Sierra de Pachuca, 2,760 meters above sea level.
The exploitation of the great silver seams began in the 18th century with the mines and enterprises of Pedro Romero de Terreros.
In the 19th century, the English arrived and brought the steam engine, pastes, and soccer to the area.
Although the town’s official name is “Mineral del Monte,” it is generally known as Real del Monte.
Main attractions in Real del Monte
Real del Monte’s architecture is dominated by its sloping streets, alleys, and mansions built during the mining expansion.
As testimony, both the splendor and the decadence are the Mina de Acosta, the mining museums of the site, and the Museum of Labor Medicine.
Some monuments, such as the one commemorating the first strike in America and the one dedicated to the anonymous miner, recall the suffering of the local workers.
The Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Chapel of the Lord of Zelontla, and the English cemetery stand out in the religious architectural landscape.
Real del Monte’s festivities and the pastes culinary tradition provide a tasty note.
Visit La Casa del Conde de Regla
The Spanish nobleman Pedro Romero de Terreros, Count of Regla, was probably the wealthiest man of his time in Mexico, thanks to the mines of Pachuca and Real del Monte.
In the mid-18th century, Don Pedro bought this spacious house from the nuns’ college of San Bernardo, next to the oratory of San Felipe Neri.
It was known as the House of Silver since the Count of Regla filled it with many objects of that precious metal.
The upper floor of the house was for private quarters, and the lower floor for services (courtyard, stables, barn, garage).
The documentation left by the Count of Regla in the mansion allowed us to know several of the customs of the time in Real del Monte.
What is the Casa Grande?
The Casa Grande was an important residential building commissioned by the powerful Compañía de Aventureros de las Minas during the mining boom of Real del Monte, serving first as a rest house for the Count of Regla and then as lodging for the highest-level personnel of the mines.
It is a solid Spanish-style mansion, which stands out for its ample interior courtyard with a colonnade and baroque decorative motifs.
It lost its original spirit when transformed to make it more functional when it was the seat of educational institutes.
Still, it has regained its former splendor thanks to a recent restoration.
El Portal del Comercio
Next to the temple of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, a building was the main commercial center of the old Real del Monte.
It was owned by the wealthy merchant José Téllez Girón, who had it built in the mid-19th century.
It had residential quarters and was the lodging place of Emperor Maximilian when he visited Real del Monte in 1865.
Another attractive building is the Municipal Presidency, with stonework in which Tezontle stone was used, generally employed in the buildings of Real del Monte.
Explore the Acosta Mine in Real del Monte
The first kilos of silver from the Acosta Mine were produced in 1727, maintaining a marginal operation until 1985.
Now tourists can visit the mine wearing mining safety clothing (coveralls, helmet, lamp, and boots), passing through the old machine room, and walking through a 400-meter-long gallery.
A piece that has been preserved in excellent condition is the chimney, and you can also see a silver vein. At the Acosta Mine, a site museum is worth visiting for its industrial archaeological collection.
The museum installed in the old warehouse area traces the history of mining in Real del Monte, started by the Spaniards, followed by the English, who introduced the steam engine, and continued by the Americans, who brought electricity.
You can also visit the Superintendent’s House (head of mine operations), which preserves the original English-style furnishings.
In the La Dificultad Mine, another exhibit goes through the technological changes in mining equipment throughout the mining period.
Visit the Museum of Occupational Medicine
The Real del Monte hospital opened its doors in 1907 after an investment made by the Pachuca and Real del Monte Mining Company, with the collaboration of the “barreteros,” the men who worked with the picks in the mines, who were the most interested, due to the accidents and illnesses they suffered while performing their work.
Currently, the former hospital houses the Museum of Occupational Medicine, which preserves the original instruments and furniture, constituting an excellent example of the history of occupational medicine in the country.
What is the history of the first strike in America?
In 1776, Real del Monte marked a historical milestone in America as it was the scene of the first labor strike on the continent.
Working conditions in Pachuca and Real del Monte mines were atrocious, but there was always an opportunity to improve them.
The wealthy employer Pedro Romero de Terreros created the terrible idea of reducing wages while increasing workloads, so the strike broke out on July 28, 1776.
In the esplanade of La Dificultad Mine, a monument commemorates this historical event.
Sinaloan artist Arturo Moyers Villena painted the allusive mural.
The Monument to the Anonymous Miner
Real del Monte was forged by its miners, many of whom died anonymously in terrible accidents in the depths of the mines or from diseases contracted during their hard work.
As unknown soldiers are honored worldwide with monuments, so are Real del Monte’s miners.
The statue was unveiled in 1951 and depicted a worker carrying a simple drilling tool before a commemorative obelisk.
Visit the Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary
The most important church in town was initially consecrated to Our Lady of the Assumption.
The temple was designed by the Novo-Hispanic baroque master Miguel Custodio Duran at the beginning of the 18th century, who conceived it with a single tower.
The building has architectural curiosity because it has two towers of different styles, one Spanish and the other British.
The tower on the south side has a clock and was erected in the middle of the 19th century by the initiative of the miners of Real del Monte, who financed the construction.
In the interior, the neoclassical altars and some paintings stand out.
The English cemetery
Cemeteries are not usually places frequented by tourists. Still, there are exceptions, and the English cemetery of Real del Monte is distinguished by its originality and cultural aspects little known in Mexico.
It was built during the 19th century so the English dead, important people from the mines, would be buried according to British customs overseas.
The graves of nationals who died outside Great Britain had to be oriented toward the British Isles. In addition, epitaphs written in English can be very poetic.
Real del Monte festivities
When the Christ arrived at Real del Monte and refused to continue his journey to Mexico City, he was not yet a “miner.”
The town miners dressed him in a cape, hat, staff, and a miner’s lamp, turning him into the Lord of Zelontla, who is now celebrated with the most awaited festivities of Real del Monte during the second week of January.
Another colorful traditional festivity in Real del Monte is that of El Hiloche, which takes place on Corpus Christi Thursday, 60 days after Easter Sunday.
It is a typical Mexican rodeo, with wild bulls, horse races, and other charrería events, closing with a popular dance.
The food that symbolizes Real del Monte is the paste, an English culinary contribution that arrived in the 19th century with the British who worked in the mines.
It is an empanada similar to the one eaten by the English miners in their country. It is fried with raw filling, unlike the traditional empanada, which is pre-cooked.
The dough is made of wheat flour, and the typical filling of the miners was minced meat with potatoes.
Paste has its own museum in Real del Monte, showing its preparation with utensils from the 19th century onwards.
Get a souvenir
Faithful to the town’s tradition with precious metals, the silversmiths and artisans of Real del Monte make beautiful silver objects, such as small-scale reproductions of monuments, bracelets, chains, bracelets, and other jewelry.
They also work delicately with wood and make leather products like halters, ropes, muzzles, reins, and artisela pieces.
Hotels in Real del Monte, Hidalgo
- Villa Alpina El Chalet is a nice hotel, very conveniently located since it is close to Real del Monte, Pachuca, and El Chico
- In the center of town is the Hotel Paraiso Real, with a friendly staff who will make you feel at home
- Hotel Posada Castillo Panteon Ingles is on top of a mountain, with excellent panoramic views
When you get hungry in Real del Monte, I recommend going to El Serranillo or Real del Monte, serving Mexican food.
Pastes El Portal, where you can eat the typical empanada of the town, and BamVino, where they serve delicious pizzas.
I hope you can visit this Magical Town; it’s worth it. And don’t forget to share your comments and experiences with us. See you next time. Vamonos!