If you take the bus that leaves from La Alhóndiga out to La Valenciana, it will drop you off right by the Templo La Valenciana: a stunning church dripping in Baroque adornment. Otherwise known as the Church of San Cayetano, the Templo La Valenciana is one of the most stellar examples of Mexican Churrigueresque- a branch of Baroque known principally for its over-the-top decoration.
There are two theories as to the construction of the church so close to the mines. The first is that the Spaniard who founded the mine made a personal vow to San Cayetano that he was construct a church honoring the saint if the silver mine - perhaps with the Cayetano's helpful intervention - made him rich. It did, and so up went the church. The second story tells the tale of the mine's silver baron who had the lavish church built to in an attempt to make some moral ammends for having sat in the lap of luxury while exploiting the laborers who worked the mines.
Either way, today you can revel in one of the most spectacular constructions in Guanajuato and in Mexico. The church, constructed in the form of a Latin cross, boasts a beautiful dome, its original wood doors and floors, 3 extravagant altarpieces and even the original - albeit restored - organ. The façade, while technically incomplete as it lacks the second tower along with a few sculptures, is a jaw-dropping work of finely carved pale pink stone. From time to time, the church hosts musical performances- what a setting!
The La Valenciana Mine, which for 250 years produced a fifth of the world's silver, is actually still running and producing silver and other metals today! It was shut down just after the Mexican Revolution, but the historical mine was opened back up in 1968. While you can't enter the mine due to safety reasons, you can see the miners heading down into the massive main shaft (9 meters wide and 500 meters deep!) as well as the ore being lifted out. Guides, for a tip, will show you around the compound. Even though you can't go in La Valenciana, you can check out the nearby Bocamina Valencia, a section of mineshaft that's open to interested visitors.