Las Médulas: a fascinating Roman gold mine


Las Médulas is a natural environment that is considered one of the most singular in Spain. 

Therefore, it was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997 and Natural Monument in 2002.

Originally Las Médulas were a mining site. Considered the biggest gold mine built by the Roman Empire, it was abandoned in the 3rd century after extracting 800,000 kg gold.

Thereafter, the native vegetation began to gradually cover the hills of red sand. These hills were formed in Roman times by turning over the interior layers of the earth. Thus, they created galleries in which they injected pressurized water with which they crumbled the slopes of the mountains, bringing the mineral to the surface.

The result is an environment with a beautiful landscape in which the ground has been shaped over time in fanciful reddish formations that contrast with the green of the forest that partially cover them.

There are some spots of great beauty such as the lake of Carucedo (it is believed it was made up of stagnant water during mining) or the viewpoint of Orellán, from which you can get a good view of this peculiar environment of the province of León.

Vegetation and fauna

As architectural remains from its industrial and ethnographic past, you can visit the remains of the metallurgic village of Orellan. The vegetation mainly consists of forests of holm oaks, oaks, kermes oak and chestnut.

Regarding the fauna, there are mammals such as wild boars, wildcats, roe deers, rabbits or hares. There are also birds like the northern goshawk or the northern sparrowhawk.

Parque Natural de Las Médulas, El Bierzo

Hiking and how to get there

Hiking is very common in the Natural Park of Las Médulas. Through a series of signposted routes the visitor can go into most of its nooks. Some of these are the Senda Perimetral, Las Valiñas, Reirigo, Lago or Los Conventos. The Visitor Reception Centre, in the village of Las Médulas, organises guided tours upon request.

The road N-536 from Ponferrada come in the Natural Park through the municipality of Carucedo and crosses the town towards the province of Ourense. Once in the park, the path for heading Las Medulas is well signposted.

Recommendations on where to eat and where to sleep around

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In Carucedo

La Parra restaurant

El Castro restaurant

El Lago restaurant

In Las Médulas

Medulio restaurant

Agoga restaurant

Durandarte restaurant

In Orellán

Palleiro do Pe do Forno restaurant

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In Carucedo

Las Cabañas holiday cottage

La Peregrina hotel

In Las Médulas

Medulio hotel

Agoga holiday cottage

In Orellán

O Palleiro do pe do Forno holiday cottage

Louteiro House holiday cottage

El Lagar holiday cottage

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Bierzonatura active tourism 

La Vereda Berciana active tourism

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Visitor Reception Centre. C/General, s/n. Las Médulas. León. Spain. Phone +34 987 420 708. GPS coordinates: 42º 27′ 26″ N – 6º 46′ 5″ W.

Archeological Centre of Las Médulas. Camino Yeres, s/n. Las Médulas. León. Spain. Phone: +34 986 422 848. GPS Coordinates: 42º 27′ 39.11″ N – 6º 46′ 5.15″ W.

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