Minas de Santa Bárbara

Central Highlands

The ghostly mines of Santa Barbara, high in the hills above Huancavelica, and accessed by a tough but rewarding 1½ hour hike, are the city's most poignant site. Closed since a collapse ended two centuries of mineral extraction in 1786, Santa Barbara was once one of the most profitable mines in the Americas. Buildings – including accommodations and a church – enjoy a lonely, lovely location well worth visiting.

The path is accessed from a long flight of steps which heads straight up from above Hospedaje San José in Huancavelica. Above the tree line after the steps end, aim for some TV masts on a hill, just below which the path picks up a stone-surfaced track leading to the mine.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Central Highlands attractions

3. Instituto Nacional de Cultura

1.41 MILES

This museum has displays about the area, plus a bundle of interesting information if you catch the right attendant on the right day and ask. There's a…

4. Cathedral

1.43 MILES

Huancavelica’s most spectacular religious building, built in 1673, has been restored in attractive maroon and white. It contains what some say is the best…

5. Iglesia de La Ascensión

1.53 MILES

The red-and-cream facade of this 17th-century church is thought to show traces of Moorish influence.

7. Iglesia de Santa Ana

1.74 MILES

The city's first church, sporting a maroon-and-white color scheme and dating from 1576.

8. Iglesia de San Cristóbal

1.83 MILES

Attention is due to the building work on this two-towered church, containing several escuela cuzqueña (Cuzco school) paintings, but its beauty still…