Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the Royal Inland Road, also known as the Silver Route, which constitutes a part of the Spanish Intercontinental Royal Route from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The route was actively used as a trade route for 300 years, from the mid-16th to the 19th centuries.
The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the Royal Inland Road, also known as the Silver Route, which constitutes a part of the Spanish Intercontinental Royal Route from Mexico City to Santa Fe. It was the northernmost of the four major "royal roads" that linked Mexico City to its major tributaries during and after the Spanish colonial era.
The route was actively used as a trade route for 300 years, from the mid-16th to the 19th centuries, mainly for transporting silver extracted from the mines of Zacatecas, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí as well as mercury imported from Europe.
Although it is a route that was motivated and consolidated by the mining industry, it also fostered the creation of social, cultural and religious links, in particular between Spanish and Amerindian cultures.
The overall property consists of five existing urban World Heritage sites:
The World Heritage property also consists of 55 other sites related to the use of the road, such as bridges, former haciendas, historic centers/towns, a cemetery, former convents, a mountain range, stretches of road, a mine, chapels/temples and caves within a 1,400 km (870 mi) stretch of the road between Mexico City and the Town of Valle de Allende.
The Camino Real was an extraordinary phenomenon as a communication channel. Silver was the driving force that generated the wealth and commitment of the Spanish Government and the will of colonists to open up the northern territory for mining, to establish the necessary towns for workers and to build the forts, haciendas, and churches.
The outcome of this highly profitable process was the development of mines and the construction of the road and bridges, as well as the establishment of multi-ethnic towns with elaborate buildings that reflect a fusion of Spanish and local decoration.
An agricultural revolution in the countryside centered on large hacienda estates with churches and the movement of peoples up and down the road, facilitated to a great degree initially by settlements of muleteers, all of which led to the development of a distinctive culture along the route.
Ultimately the wealth of silver led to massive economic development in Spain and other parts of Europe and a period of great economic inflation.
The impact of the Camino Real was enormous in terms of social tensions as well as, ultimately, social integration between the many people that came to be involved in the economic development. The structures in the property together reflect some aspects of this interchange of ideas and people along the southern stretch of the road.