It is located in Salinas de Añana, just 30 kilometres from Vitoria. Everything seems to indicate that the Salted Valley of Añana is more than 6500 years old, being a large part of it an interesting archaeological site that turns it into a real historical archive where you can study how and when these salt springs began to be exploited and how the salt miners lived in each era. 200 million years ago the whole of the east of the peninsula was sea, but when the tectonic plates moved, leaving large extensions of salt water trapped, it evaporated and retreated and all the salt it contained remained at the bottom, more or less two thousand metres deep, forming a layer or crust that extends from the Atlantic to the Cantabrian Sea and from the plateau to the Mediterranean. Gradually layers of other materials settled, but the salt is less dense and more plastic and tends to filter and rise above them creating salt bubbles called diapiro.
The Díapiro of the Salted Valley has good measures, 6 kilometers long by 3.5 wide. When it rains the water filters into the ground and reaches the Subijana aquifer, then returns to the surface crossing the saline deposits and thus converted into brine through the four springs that supply with their waters the eras of the Valley, although two fresh water springs that pour into the river that crosses the Salt Valley. The salt flats that make up the Salted Valley are simple constructions made of stone, pine wood and clay. The brine reaches them through channels through which water flows from the wells where it is collected from the four springs. Each salinero filled his well in turns, only when it corresponded to him and in the amount he had allocated. The rules that governed the Salted Valley were transmitted orally from parents to children until the 16th century when the master or shift book was written. In prehistoric times the salt mines had a very different shape and the preparation of salt was done by forced evaporation, making the water consumed by cooking and it was not until the time of the Romans, around the first century BC when they settled in the area, and began to be achieved by natural evaporation, in which the maximum role played the atmospheric factors.
There are documents from the beginning of the 9th century which mention the exploitation and production of salt in this valley. The white gold that was obtained did not have such a colour, rather it was brown, this was so because the base of the land where the brine was placed coloured the salt, white salt being an expensive exception, until in the 19th century Charles IV decided that the salt produced in all the salt mines of his kingdom should be white, sending experts and architects to study how to achieve it on the land. The current Santa Engracia spring, the main salt fountain, owes its shape to the salt workers who rebuilt it after the flood at the end of the seventeenth century, which destroyed the two primitive springs and a hermitage here located, which was dedicated to Santa Engracia. The salt mines ceased to be profitable and little by little, between the 50s and 60s of the last century they were abandoned and deteriorated rapidly until in the year 2000 the owners, in a desire to reconvert and restore this valley of great ethnographic, historical and cultural value, put it back into operation but already declared a Historical Monument. The landscape, which the curious visitor finds in the Salted Valley Añana, creates the sensation of walking through a village in which all its constructions are made of zoquin, salt crust.
The waters of the Salt Valley have their specific flora and fauna, as they have to live in a saline environment. There are species that can live with salt, Halophytes, like some of the plants that exist here, and others that need it for their subsistence, Holobiontes. The Artemias can be seen in the water wells of the Valley, they are Holobiontes, it is a species that is more than 300 million years old and they reproduce by eggs that the female generates by herself, depositing them in the water where she lives and hatching in the months of heat. When the water cools these microscopic bugs, which at most reach one centimeter in size, they die. The eggs only hatch if the temperature and the saline concentration of the water is beneficial for them, and can remain in the form of an egg for up to ten years. It should be noted that the sea water on average are obtained 25 grams of salt per liter and here are 250 grams that are taken from a liter. The Salted Valley of Añana is of Cultural Interest and is included in the list of wetlands of international importance of the Ramsar Convention.
Legend has it that many years ago a cow was grazing in the place and noticed that the land was salty. He began to dig with his foot until the source of Santa Engracia sprang up.
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The A-2622 crosses the town coming from the N-I, reaching it after passing through Pobes and Subijana, the detour for this road is at the height of Nanclares de Oca. We can also connect with the A-2622 in Pobes following the A-3322 from La Puebla de Arganzón or the A-3310 in Manzanos, both accesses also located on the N-I. By the A-2622 but in opposite direction we will arrive coming from the A-2625, more concretely from the locality of Espejo where we will find the detour towards the Salinas de Añana. The town also has a bus service that connects it with Vitoria.
The Salted Valley of Añana visitor reception centre can be found at the entrance to the locality as we arrive from Pobes. If on the contrary we do it from Espejo we will have to cross the population to arrive to him. In the proximities of the center we will find the enabled zones to be able to park our vehicle.
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El Valle salado de Añana me a parecido una preciosidad. La visita a las salinas super entretenida, merece la pena. Muy recomendable.
6:45 h.23 km.
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