1:00 p.m. Immaculate Conception
After leaving our bags at the hotel we were anxious to begin our tour of this beautiful mining town filled with hilly cobbled streets and surrounded by the imposing silence of the mountains as soon as possible. From the moment we had arrived my attention had been drawn to a gothic style construction that stood out from the other buildings, so we headed towards it and began our tour there. This building is the Church of the Immaculate Conception and was built in the 18th century right in the middle of the town. Its altar was brought from Italy and the images of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception and San Jose were brought from Paris. Facing it is the Church of Saint Simon, next to it is the Town Hall and in the middle, overlooking everything, is a small square with the mandatory kiosk where people meet to simply watch the afternoon pass.
3:00 p.m. A walk to the town heights
Hunger called, so we went for a delicious and obligatory mole at the Los Arcos restaurant, one of the many places for food located around the main square. For dessert what we really wanted was an ice-cream so we decided to have one while seated on a bench from where we could watch people go by. Once our hunger had been satisfied we started our walk towards an observation point that promised an exceptional view of Angangueo. The climb began with a walk through alleyways before continuing up long stairs and finally ending with a dirt path. After a few minutes we arrived at the Mirador de la Cruz de Hierro observation point, and as if lifted from a postcard, we beheld a beautiful panoramic view of the town. We were told that if we continued our climb we would come across some caves. This awoke our curiosity so we followed the path to the highest point from where we could see the region’s landscapes in their entire splendor. From these caves a pilgrimage sets off every year in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. That same afternoon as we set off for the hotel, while the light began to fade and it started to get cold, the weariness brought on by the walk started to get the better of us. However, before entering the hotel we still had time to visit the main square for a tasty corn in the cob.
9:00 a.m. The Monarch Butterfly spectacle
After a hearty breakfast we headed straight for the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary, home of the Monarch butterfly. The municipality of Angangueo borders Tlalpujahua to the north, the municipality of Ocampo to the south, Aporo to the west and the State of Mexico to the east. It was precisely to the east we headed since the entrance to the sanctuary is in an area near the state border. After a trip of 8 km by highway and then a small dirt road we were enveloped by the natural atmosphere of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve with its forest of pines and firs.
Our guide offered us the chance to stop at an observation point to enjoy the majestic views and along the way the infotips provided information concerning the 4,500 km journey made by the butterflies from the Northwest of the USA and southern Canada to the colonies of El Rosario in Ocampo and Sierra Chincua in Angangueo. We were at an altitude of 3,000 masl and the spectacle of thousands of butterflies took our breath away. Some people decided to return on horseback (this option is available), but like many others we preferred to walk (the time needed for these tours varies according to the time of year and the location of the butterfly colonies, with the walk to see the butterflies lasting approximately an hour and a half. For this reason it is recommended you take food and water).
1:00 p.m. Lunch and a breather
Once back at the entrance to the sanctuary our friends who had returned on horseback were already waiting for us at one of the food stalls with some delicious quesadillas. While we finished eating they showed us the handicrafts they had purchased. Back in the center of Angangueo we decided it was a good idea to take a short siesta and meet up later to see the other sights.
4:00 p.m. History painted on the walls
Reinvigorated, we went to see the mural painted by Jorge Tellez in an alleyway next to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Divided into six parts, the mural tells the story of Angangueo. We were also informed that a document in the church archive indicates the date the town was founded: 1632. However, the town really started to develop with the settlement known as El Mineral de Angangueo in 1792. Due to the abundance of gold, silver, copper and lead in the area, Michoacan was considered one of the country’s main mining centers during the colonial period. As a result, Tlalpujahua and Angangueo became growth centers for the region and its adjoining areas.
After our little history lesson we wanted to watch the sun set and the Monument to the Miner was recommended since this sculpture also serves as an observation point. A little further up, the Chapel of the Conception is another ideal spot for watching the sunset.
9:00 a.m. The Angangueo surrounding area
After accepting advice to have barbacoa for breakfast, we headed to the market located to the side of the square. Happy and satisfied following breakfast we set off for the Museo Tunel Casa Parker. This was the home of Bill and Joyce Parker, an English-American couple who came to live here when Bill was named the administrator of the American Smelting & Refining Company mine. Their furniture and personal objects have been preserved, along with a photo archive detailing the daily life of miners. In addition, the tour of the Saint Simon Tunnel starts here. This tunnel recreates the interior of the Angangueo mines with a depth of 9.5 meters and length of 100 meters.
A few minutes away by car are the old mines, the old train station and the aqueduct, so we went out to see them. Further out, on the way to Ocampo, you will find the Hacienda de Angangueo which has a small chapel still visited by people who live nearby. Finally, just before leaving, we collected our things and visited the stores offering regional handicrafts in search of a souvenir of our trip: here you will find items crafted in wood, jewelry and silver accessories.