Real de Catorce, Mexico
Real de Catorce is a village high in the rolling mountains that are tributary to the Sierra Madre Oriental. Politically, it is located within the state of San Luis Potosi.
Located at 2750 meters above sea level, this small village was once boasted a bustling silver mine producing three million dollars a year. Now, it is almost a ghost town, with a population of only a few hundred people, mostly indigenous Indians. The architecture hearkens back to another era, with wood and mortar being in abundance and it boasts a large Fransiscan Church, named aptly the Church of San Francisco. Every year in October the residents and various pilgrims celebrate a two week fiesta in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.
Before it was settled by the Spanish, the area was considered a sacred land by the native population. Even today the Huichol Indians make annual pilgrimages to holy mountain "Wirikuta" to pay homage to their gods of peyote (called Hikuri) and Maize (corn).
A very interesting aspect of this city is the Ogarrio Tunnel. This long mining tunnel leading into the city from the north is the only entrance to the town, and is only wide enough for one vehicle to pass.
The name Real de Catorce means "Royal of Fourteen". It is alleged that a band of fourteen Spanish soldiers sent in to pacify the native population were slaughtered in the early 1700's, and the town was named in their honor.