With its cobblestone streets, delightful central plaza, 250-year-old baroque church, and thoughtfully restored haciendas, Álamos is the most authentically revived colonial town in Sonora. Although Sonora has many historic areas from the Spanish colonial period, Álamos once held sway over a vast area, and is arguably the most historically important spot in the state. In the ecologically rich zone where the Sonoran Desert meets a dry tropical forest, the entire town is designated a national historic monument.
Coronado camped here in 1540, but Álamos really boomed when silver was discovered in the area during the 1680s. Wealth from the mines financed Spanish expeditions to the north—as far as Los Angeles and San Francisco during the 1770s and '80s—and the town became the capital of the state of Occidente from 1827 to 1832. A government mint was established here in 1864. The mines had closed by the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. All but abandoned for the first half of the 20th century, it retains it colonial character.