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 – and a warning to the mining companies now flocking to the Central Highlands. 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.