Published On: Thu, Jul 27th, 2017

Mining gave birth to the city of Guanajuato

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A city like Guanajuato would not have arisen if the silver mines of Rayas and Mellado had not been found. This discovery gave rise to the first settlements in what we know today as the city of Guanajuato, initially emerging as a small village.

Previous to this era, small Chichimeca groups occupied the territory they used to call Paxtitlán. It was the Tarascan ethnic group who baptized this place as Quanaxhuato, which means “mounds of frogs” in Tarasco language.

The first exploration of the area was conducted by the Spanish Rodrigo Velázquez and the first discovery of what would be the mining boom occurred in the year 1548. Apparently, the first vein that was discovered was the Mina de Rayas by muleteer Juan de Rayas.

Mina de Rayas (Google)

Mina de Rayas (Google)

By 1574, the small town of the “bajío” region already existed as “alcaldía mayor”, but it was until the year 1741 when it received the title of Ciudad de Santa Fe y Real de MInas of Guanajuato, granted by King Felipe V of Spain.

In the eighteenth century the opulence of mining in the city was evident, large buildings were built on Calle Real, which has been the main avenue of the city ever since, where the first colonnial constructions were erected.

The mining activity grew considerably across the region, which led to the birth of other mines such as the Mina de Cata, La Valenciana, Bocamina San Ramón and others.


The work in the mines at the beginning of the nineteenth century required a lot of physical strength and the labor conditions were not the best, this was part of the miner’s life to earn a scarce salary, while the Spanish “conquistadors” were getting rich by the minute.

It is well known historically that the Spanish Crown obtained  a fabulous amount of gold and silver from their American territories, that sustained the hegemony of the Habsburg dynasty in Europe and contributed to the birth of a global economy.

At the end of the 18th century, Guanajuato was the main producer of silver worldwide. The Valenciana mine was the richest in the city and up to these days, it is still in operation. The silver extracted from the Valenciana mine helped significantly to maintain the Spanish Empire and its colonies.






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