A trip down Mina El Eden combines culture with a great night out. The retired mine in the city of Zacatecas is now a tourist attraction which runs educational tours and hosts one of the world’s most unique nightclubs.
Revellers arrive at El Malacate Discotheque via a small train which runs through the 600-metre La Esperanza Cavern inside the mine. La Esperanza translates as Hope in English and many who venture into these parts hope to find their own precious jewel. You might not meet the love of your life, but you’ll have a great story to tell.
History tells us that the original inhabitants of the region, the Zacateco people, knew of the mineral wealth beneath their feet but decided to keep it in the ground. The extraction of silver in the region of Zacatecas, in north central Mexico, began in the mid 16th century and transformed the city into one of the wealthiest and most important cities in the Spanish colonies.
El Eden produced millions of tonnes of silver ore but was closed in 1960 after flooding on various levels, and because the blasting from the mining operations were too dangerous for the inhabitants of the expanding city which was being built on top.
The current tourist attraction opened in 1975 and is one of the region’s most popular sites. It encompasses hanging rope bridges, stairs and models of workers.
A great amount of the silver mined in Zacatecas made its way to the Spanish royal family. Like all royal families, the Spanish crown grew wealthy and powerful off the work of others, especially indigenous people.
Special lighting areas highlight the methods used to extract the silver and the mine also hosts a demonstration of mining and a museum with a display of rocks and minerals.
Guests can hear stories of the adventures and misadventures of all of those who descended the seven levels of the mine, and a visit to this site provides tourists with the opportunity to wear a hard hat and a very fetching hair net.
The city itself is a World Heritage Site and rewards visitors with preserved colonial architecture and Baroque structures. Grabbing a seat on the balcony of a cafe or restaurant is a great way to admire the architecture and to watch the people go about their business.
The famous Mexican independence fighter, Pancho Villa, also marked his imprint upon the city. He captured the town in the Battle of Zacatecas during the Mexican Revolution in the 19th century.
Silver played a huge role in the development of Zacatecas and the state which bears the same name. The world’s largest silver mine, Penasquito, is in the state of Zacatecas and a Mexican slang word for money is ‘plata’, or silver.
Your journey does not end, however, once you finish exploring the underground mine. If you choose, you can continue on the funicular railway. This cable car will carry you high above the streets of Zacatecas from El Grillo Mountain to La Bufa, which is about 660 metres in total. The panoramic views are spectacular.
and you can leave a tip if you like…
Perhaps a donation of plata.