Real del MonteHidalgo : Real del Monte
Real del Monte (also referred to as Mineral del Monte)is a town in the State of Hidalgo, Mexico, with a population of 15,000 inhabitants, and lies 12 km. to the north of Pachuca de Soto. The town sits in the middle of a mountainous and forested zone, and with a colonial Spanish and Cornish influence in architecture, plus its natural scenery, is one of the most famous tourist destinations around Pachuca and Mexico City. Recently it was awarded a Pueblo Mágico, reinforcing its status as one of the most beautiful towns in the country.
Originally founded around the XVI century, its history is totally related mainly to mining activities, and to a lesser extent, with football and regional gastronomy. Silver extraction has been the leading activity of the town since the colonial times, and all its life is still centered around it (together with tourism). It was during the XIX century that the silver industry reached its peak in town and most of the attractions date from this time. Together with the silver activities, an immigration flux of Cornish people arrived in that century, and which influence is still widely seen today everywhere around town.
After the Cornish, it was the Americans who owned the mines and subsequently the Mexicans, after the nationalization of the mining facilities. Its decline was during the XX century, and by the end of the XX century almost all the infrastructure in mining was abandoned, and later restored for tourism purposes.
It was the Cornish people who brought with them the national sport, football, and the town is famous for being the place where football was first played in the American continent. The first workers' strike in the continent also happened here. Currently, tourism is the main activity of town, and it is regarded as a symbol for Anglo-Mexican relations.
Real del Monte is easily reachable from Pachuca and Mexico City, as well as other important cities such as Puebla or Querétaro. A 12 km. four-lane road, part of the Mexico - Matamoros 105 National Road, connects it with Pachuca. The road is in good condition, however, sharp curves are common and accidents are frequent. Drive carefully.
Neither in Pachuca or Real del Monte taxis pose a risk for crime. A taxi from Pachuca to Real del Monte or viceversa can cost between 100 to 150 MXN one-way, but no more than that.
There is no proper bus service but rather a minivan, Combi network that connect Real del Monte with Pachuca and other villages and towns nearby, such as Huasca, Omitlán, Atotonilco el Grande and Mineral del Monte.
The minivan Pachuca - Real del Monte takes the old road instead of the new one, so is slower than expected and covers the 15 km. stretch in over 30 minutes. Price to Pachuca is 15 MXN one way. The minivans station is close to the centre, in front of the School of Arts in a big square. In Pachuca, the combis depart and arrive in front of the Mercado Benito Juárez, in the Cajas Reales building (the bus station is far away and has no service for Real del Monte).
The town is small enough to be discovered on foot, however the terrain is hilly and there are many steep streets all over, which can result tiring after some time. Public transport consists of minivans which are not usually used within town, but rather to places around it. Taxi is a better and rather inexpensive option.
Other alternative is riding the cheap Tourist Bus, which takes you on a tour around town visiting the most famous attractions in and around Real del Monte.
Plaza Principal is the main square of town. It is a beautiful square with small gardens, a theatre, a beautiful fountain and kiosk brought by the Cornish in 1855, and next to it lie the main church and the town hall. Plaza Juárez is a small square in the centre. It has restaurants, a monument to the miner, and the town market building.
- Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Plaza Principal. This is the main church, located right in the centre of town. It has a plain façade, in an orange colour and without ornaments, but a huge niche on its centre with the Virgin of Guadalupe. it was erected in the XVII century, except for the second tower, in a different colour, erected in 1842. edit
- Santuario del Señor de Zelontla, Calle Hidalgo and Calle Morelos (One block away from the main square). Church dating from the XIX century, dedicated to Jesus, the Good Pastor; the locals say the figure here venerated was brought from Spain and when it arrived here, it became impossible to move, so its temple was erected here. It is considered the protector of the miners, and mining equipment was added to it. edit
- Iglesia de la Santa Vera Cruz, La Vera Cruz Street (Right behind the Sanctuary of the Señor de Zelontla). Simple church, erected in 1719, dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Carved wooden ornate in the interior. edit
- Callejón de los Artistas is a small, narrow alley with pictures of the films and telenovelas which have taken place in the town.
- Museo de Medicina Laboral, Hospital Street (Three blocks behind Sanctuary of Señor de Zelontla). Wed-Sun 9:30-17:00 (winter) 10:00-18:00 (summer). Small building from 1908, used to be the first hospital for the miners and their families. Actually hosts the museum which talks about the conditions the miners worked in, the diseases they commonly suffered and their conditions of living. 25 MXN. edit
- Panteón Inglés, Calle Abraham Rubio Calva (Located in the outskirts of town, on top of a hill. Better reached by taxi). The English Graveyard, it is one of the most famous attractions. Tombstones dating from the XVIII century, beautifully ornamented. Resting place not only for British, but also Mexican, Spanish, German and Dutch peoples. In the place you can hear many stories of the place and the people buried there. The now deceased, former vigilant of the graveyard, Don Inocencio Hernández, was ordered as a Sir and member of the Order of the British Empire by designation of the Queen Elizabeth II. edit
- Mina de Acosta, Camino Real a Guerrero s/n (20 min. walk from the main square). Wed-Sun 10:00-18:00. The first mining facility in town, commenced operations in 1727 and finished in 1985. Here you can go down the mine using a lift 400 meters underground, observing, the machinery, process, tunnels and equipment, as well as legends of the metal extraction from different epoques. The architecture of the surface buildings has also been properly restored. Entrance only in guided tour and proper safety equipment, both included in the price. 40 MXN. edit
- Mina La Dificultad, Federal Highway 105, at the entrance of town. Wed-Sun 10:00 - 18:00. Another one of the many mines that were built and used to extract silver. It was built in 1865 and finished operations in 1985. Now has a collection of documents, photographs and machinery that explain the history of mining, as well as tunnels to explore on guided tours and with proper safety equipment (included in the price). 40 MXN. edit
- Explore the interior of the mines at Mina de Acosta and Mina La Dificultad.
- Take a trip on the tourist bus, which takes you around town to the most famous attractions, such as the mines Acosta and La Dificultad, the highest inhabited point in Mexico, the Panteón Inglés and other places. 30 MXN.
- El Hiloche. Natural park just outside the town, covered in forest and with grounds for grilling, sports and camping. There are lookout points with stunning views over Real del Monte.
- Peñas Cargadas, (10 km. to the east of Real del Monte, on the highway to Epazoyucan), ☎ (771) 100 5090. Mountain park with rock natural formations and dense forest. The zip-line is other attraction. It has a network of 30 zip-lines summing up a total of 16 km, the longest single one being 800 meters long. 80 MXN for two lines or 1200 MXN for all of them. Also, there is bike and quad rental, horse riding and camping options. 40 MXN per car. edit
The main school in Real del Monte is the UAEH (State University) faculty of Arts.
Work options as a sports instructor or tourist guide.
Real del Monte offers plenty of handicrafts to buy, mainly those made with silver (which for foreigners seems like very good prices), beware since some can be fake or impure. Around town one can find many silver shops and workshops.
In the central market, you can find fruits, local produce, local inexpensive food and more traditional handicraft.
In the centre of town there is Portal del Comercio, a building with restaurants in the top floor and silver stores in the basement.
Pastes are by far the most typical food in the city, it is a thin bread with salty or sweet filling, it's up to your choice. Most popular are meat and potato, tuna, beans, sausages (salty) or apple jam, pineapple jam, pudding cream, or sweet rice with milk (sweet). Pastes are inexpensive and restaurants offering them are all around town, there are several places to eat, with standard prices and following different variations of the recipe so discover which place you like the most!.
- Hotel Real del Monte, Calle Iturbide 5, ☎ (771) 79 71 202, . Offers 5 double-rooms, 5 King-size single rooms, 4 Queen-size single rooms and 1 Jr. suite. Rates around 700 MXN. edit
- Hotel Paraíso Real, Calle Iturbide 13, ☎ (771) 79 70 220, . 22 rooms, with complete bathroom, cable TV and hot water. Single queen size 800 MXN, Single king size 900 MXN, Double queen size 1000 MXN (high season, in low season prices are lower). Breakfast included. edit
Crime is really rare, but it happens. Be careful especially at night, and follow the common sense. The main safety concern should be following recommendations during activities such as extreme sports and visiting the mines. Reports of people lost in the forest are common, so always follow the general instructions and try not to wander by yourself in the forest at night. Wild animals are uncommon close to the town.
Respiratory diseases seem to be the main concern for the visitor due to the fluctuation of temperature during the same day all year round. It can be hot and sunny immediately followed by cold and windy weather. In the mornings ice-fall is expected in winter, as well as temperatures below freezing point. On the other hand, due to altitude, sun burns are also a concern so be prepared.
Turismo Municipal. Inside the town hall. 771 79 70 510.
The emergencies line is 066 (ambulances, firefighters, forest guards), and the police line is 089.