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Carucedo: Las Médulas

Las Médulas was declared world heritage by UNESCO in 1997. They were the last to witness Roman mining. After centuries of mining inactivity, las Médulas have become an attraction among tourists due to their beautiful landscape and museum consisting of an archaeological room where you are given a fully detailed description of the period when the largest open cast gold mine in the Roman Empire operated.

Las Médulas, situated in the village of El Bierzo in León, not only provide visitors with the chance to experience an amazingly picturesque area but also to learn about an odd and complicated mining system that Plino, the roman geographer and naturalist referred to as ruina montium (literally: mountain destruction).It consisted of building large water deposits in the upper parts of the mountains by forming a network of tracks along the mountain sides. The sudden release of water turbulently rushed down the mountain side, dragging the soil with it towards the lower part of the mountain where the washers were. On occasions the water was pumped through a complex network of shafts and tunnels that perforated the mountain, breaking up the rock.

The tourist routes available in this area of natural beauty allow visitors to enjoy themselves to the full, whether they marvel at the panoramic views from the Mirador de Orellán (balcony), wander into the darkness of the Galerías (tunnels) and Bocaminas (pitheads) or take a walk through the the Cueva de la Encantada (cave) in the middle of the great mining pit. In springtime, the numerous chestnut trees, heather plants and broom decorate the area with their colour.

Source: Web server of Instituto de Turismo de España, TURESPAÑA.

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