The 14 in the town's name may have been derived from the 14 Spanish soldiers killed here by indigenous resistance fighters around 1700. The town was founded in the mid-18th century and the church built between 1790 and 1817. The town reached its peak in the late 19th century, vying to surpass the famed Valenciana mine of Guanajuato. It had opulent houses, a bullring and shops selling European luxury goods.

Just why Real became a ghost town within three decades is a mystery. Some locals claim (as they do in many ghost towns) that during the Revolution (1910−20) bandidos hid out here and scared off other inhabitants. A more plausible explanation is that the price of silver slumped after 1900.