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Mineral de Pozos has undergone quite the intriguing trajectory, one shared by a few other colonial towns along the Mexican Altiplano. The basic formula is this: booming mining city turned desolate ghost town turned artist retreat.
In the late 1800s, Mineral de Pozos--roughly an hour's drive northeast of San Miguel de Allende at the foot of the Sierra Gorda--was home to some 80,000 people and better than 300 mines. More than 1.2 million tons of ore were harvested from the region, part of a red-hot industry that saw the first stock exchange in Mexico arise in Mineral de Pozos to manage mining shares. The early decades of the 20th century saw this prosperity collapse due to a variety of factors, not least the plunging price in silver and the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution. The mines shut down and the place became a mostly abandoned backwater amid dusty mesquite and cactus scrub.
The 2000s have seen Mineral de Pozos strikingly reborn. Attracted by the small-town quiet and location, artists began setting up shop here, and before long they were followed by wealthy Mexicans and expats alike. Nowadays the community claims numerous art galleries, studios, shops, and eateries while still exuding some of that sleepy, laid back appeal. The Mexican government has designated Mineral de Pozos a Pueblo Magico, applied to towns in the country with "magical" appeal for visitors, who lately hail from around the world.
Besides all the art, Mineral de Pozos is known for various traditional handicrafts, including the production of pre-Columbian instruments. And speaking of music, a highlight of the new-and-improved Mineral de Pozos calendar is the annual Mariachi Festival.
The San Pedro Church is a landmark of the town center, but some of the most enigmatic attractions are ruins: the old bullring, a trio of conical 16th-century kilns in the hinterland, and of course the many derelict mines, some of which can be explored with a guide.
Turns out the end of the mining boom wasn't the end of the story for Mineral de Pozos: Ghost towns apparently have some tricks left in them.