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Álamos

 

 

According to local legend, the city of Álamos was once so prosperous due to the silver mines that the daughter of a wealthy silver baron, on her wedding day, walked from her home to the church on a path made of silver bars.

 

In the mountains of the northern state of Sonora, the moguls of Mexico’s silver industry left behind a legacy that they called Álamos. In the 18th century, its mines produced more silver than any other Spanish colonial mining project.

 

Up sprang a graceful pueblo, with its central church, its commerce, and its mansions as fine as silver fortunes could buy. Soon, Álamos blossomed into a provincial oasis of high society tucked in the wilds of the Sierra Madre. It became the northernmost jewel in a necklace of “Silver Cities” that spread throughout Mexico’s interior.

 

Despite a few slightly less glamorous distractions in the form of floods, rebellions, and the occasional epidemic, Álamos managed to maintain its general prosperity until the early 20th century, when the Mexican Revolution swept the country like a raging wildfire. The mines closed, the economy declined, and Álamos was all but abandoned.

 

But not for long—someone soon rediscovered this diamond in the rough. In the latter half of the 20th century, dust flew as ruined colonial mansions were meticulously restored, cobbles in the streets repaired and the infrastructure upgraded.

 

Today, Álamos is a pueblo of 10,000 people that shines with civic pride. In 2000, it earned the distinction of National Historical Monument (more precisely, 188 individual structures within the pueblo earned that distinction). Álamos was subsequently crowned with the title of Pueblo Mágico, one of only a handful in Mexico. Its history, its impressive collection of restored colonial architecture, its rich natural setting in a rare tropical deciduous forest (the home of the famed brincador, or Mexican Jumping Bean), and its easygoing people combine in a formula that defines its magic.

 

Once there, a good place to begin an exploration is El Museo Costumbrista de Sonora on the Plaza de Armas in the hub of the historic district. This regional museum provides an excellent orientation and, from there, all the historic structures are within walking distance, making touring the pueblo’s colonial heart a simple pleasure.

 

When I mention Álamos, most people return a blank stare. “Where’s that?” they reply, which is precisely what makes the place so appealing. Because getting there requires some special effort (it lacks a commercial airport), Álamos tends to attract visitors who prefer to bush bash off the beaten path.



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