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Did you know that... The Medulas

 

They are located next to the valley of the river Sil, to the northwest of the Mountains Aquilanos and to the southwest of Ponferrada, in the Bierzo region. However, the origin of this spectacular landscape, with its reddish colouring and sharp cliffs that seem to be immersed in a mysterious atmosphere, lies in the Roman exploitation of the largest open-pit gold mine in the empire. It is known that the pre-Roman people who lived here had already exploited the deposit using the panning technique, as archaeological remains of various pre-Roman and Roman sites have been found in the area. Six centuries of history, from the 3rd century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., tell the story of the landscape and cultural changes that the place and its people underwent. It is believed that it was in the time of the Emperor Octavian Augustus that the Romans began to exploit these mines, resulting in the landscape we know today and leaving us with a lot of places to see in The Medulas. The Romans in their conquest of the territory sometimes forced the natives to abandon their fortified settlements, such as Castro de Borrenes which was destroyed when the wall was still being built, and at other times the inhabitants of the villages had to work, either in the mine or making tools for it, as well as maintaining the canals.

 

What to see in The Medulas

Las Médulas-CC/Karsten Wentink

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What to see in The Medulas

 

In a land with abundant water and sufficient slope it was very feasible to use hydraulic power and the Romans knew how to make use of these resources using the mining system called Ruina Montium. Channelled and dammed streams at high altitude and steep galleries dug into the mountain through which the water rushed, the force of which dragged the earth to the washing places where the gold it contained was separated. It was arduous and spectacular work that has left its mark on this natural space where today you can admire lagoons and lakes, such as the Sumido Lake, the Lagoon of Pinzais, Lagoon Larga, and the largest, the Lake of Carucedo, whose origins are those accumulations of water. The colourful and beautiful landscape of Las Médulas that can be seen from afar attracts, like a hypnotic image, to go into it and following its walks and hiking routes discover the caves of The Encantada and The Cuevona, the source of the Viviana Aunt, the pre-Roman forts, as the Castrelín or the Crown of Borrenes, the Roman forts, as Hill Pendón or the so-called Castro de Orellán, look out to strategic viewpoints, like the Viewpoint of Orellán and visit galleries that keep centuries of history and whose function was to transport water to burst the mountain and reach an impressive balcony, the result of the collapse of the mining, as in the Gallery of Orellán, try to see at the bottom of Lake Sumido and through the beautiful white water lilies that adorn its waters to Durandarte, the famous sword of Roldan. All this thanks to the fact that since the mines ceased to be exploited there has been no industrial activity, so that the landscape of The Medulas keeps intact the traces of a past in which the hand of man modified it and after its abandonment it acquired that halo of fantasy and legend that impregnates it.

 

What to see in Las Médulas

Las Médulas-CC/mmmmngai

 

Traditions

 

There are many opinions that say that the name of Médulas is related to Mons Medulius, which according to tradition was the place where the Galician, Cantabrian and Asturian warriors who resisted the siege of the Roman legions committed suicide before surrendering.

 

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Curiosities

 

The Medulas have been a National Monument since 1931, later to be declared an Asset of Cultural Interest with the category of Archaeological Zone. In 1997 UNESCO declared them a World Heritage Site, making them the first European Cultural Landscape to achieve this distinction and recognising their great historical and natural value. At present, Las Médulas, as well as having the category of Archaeological Zone, are also considered a Natural Monument and Cultural Space.

 

What to see in Las Médulas

Las Médulas-CC/mmmmngai

 

Useful information for visiting The Medulas

 

  • The Archaeological Classroom acts as a visitor reception centre at Las Médulas and offers a wide range of information on the largest Roman gold mining site. It can be visited every day of the week at different times, depending on the season.
  • The House of the Park of the Natural Monument of The Medulas is located in the street of Abajo, s/n in Carucedo and is another of the starting and information points of the place.
  • It offers an overview of the Natural Monument and information on its visit possibilities and areas of interest. It is open at weekends as well as on public holidays, bank holidays and Easter and in summer, closing only on Mondays. In January it is closed every day except for groups with prior reservation.
  • The telephone number for further information and to arrange visits is 987 420 622.
  • The Visitor Reception Centre is another of the information and departure points for visiting The Medulas. It is located in the village of Las Médulas.
  • The centre is closed from 17 December to 9 January, the rest of the year the opening hours vary according to the season.
  • Guided tours have their own timetable and it is advisable to contact the centre in advance of the visit to make a reservation. You can call by phone 987 42 07 08 / 619 25 83 55

 

What to see in Las Médulas

Las Médulas-CC/karstensfotos

 

The Legend

 

Legend has it that in the caves that were drilled to extract the gold, where shepherds and their flocks now take refuge, a burly man with long hair and a golden beard appears amidst a great roar. He rides on the back of a goat and disappears into the galleries and mountains while a loud laughter covers the silence of the night until he arrives at a distant secret grotto where the witches are celebrating their witches' coven.

 

 

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How to get to The Medulas

 

There is no specific road to The Médulas, given its extension and the different places that can be visited. One of the main access points is in the town of Carucedo, from where one of the roads that leads into this natural monument starts. We can also get there from Borrenes, both towns are a short distance from the old N-536 and the N-120, as well as from the A-6. The village of Las Medulas is located at the end of the CV-191-2, right next to the Roman ruins of The Medulas. There is also a bus service to the municipalities in the area, which runs between Ponferrada, Puente de Domingo and O Barco de Valdeorras. The telephone number of the Ponferrada bus station for further information is 987 401 065.

 

 

 


SSENDITUR is not responsible for any variation in the information described, as well as for the misuse of its guides and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. Likewise, we invite you to document yourself with books and specialized guides to complement the information described. From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go. For any suggestion, SENDITUR invites you to send an email to

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List of Routes
  • Closeness
  • First name
  • Difficulty
  • Distance
  • Duration
  • Assessment
WAY OF SAINT JAMES
0
Difficulty-Medium

5:20 h.23 km.

Stage 21 Ponferrada-Villafranca del Bierzo
Difficulty-MediumGreen difficulty category, level 3. Stages of moderate distance and slope, not overcoming great distances or slopes.
WAY OF SAINT JAMES
2
Difficulty-High

8:05 h.28 km.

Stage 22 Villafranca del Bierzo-O Cebreiro
Difficulty-HighRed difficulty category, level 3. Mountain stages in not very steep terrain, in which there are no major technical difficulties. They need sufficient experience and training for this type of terrain. These are fairly "easy" itineraries with gentle slopes, for the usual mountain routes.
WAY OF SAINT JAMES
1
Difficulty-Moderate

3:10 h.10.7 km.

Stage 22b Pradela Variant
Difficulty-ModerateRed difficulty category, level 1. More demanding stages, either because they are longer, more uneven or have a specific difficulty.
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