What to see in Las Médulas?

Las Médulas de León is one of those places with the capacity to offer its visitors different colors and atmospheres, depending on the time of year. There are those who love to visit the place in autumn, while others love its diversity of colors in summer. In short, the important thing is to know this heritage regardless of the season.

Described as the largest open-pit gold mine on record from the time of the Roman Empire, this particular place receives hundreds of visitors, hikers and travelers interested in appreciating its landscapes and everything it has to offer.

In the province of León, specifically in the El Bierzo region, is the wonderful historical, natural and cultural monument of Las Médulas, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO. Thus, this venue has become a point of reference for visitors to the autonomous community of Castilla y León.

The origin 

It is estimated that the origin of Las Médulas dates back to 20 years before Christ . Although there are other Roman gold mines, these are the most impressive in the world. Historians say that this territory first received the name of Asturia, and it was a land rich in minerals, where the Romans invested many resources to achieve its exploitation.

Thus, to carry out its objective, the Roman Empire had to confront the Astures (the ancient inhabitants of these lands) until it managed to enslave part of them, who went on to work as miners in this territory, carrying out the tasks of extracting the gold.

To prevent rebellions from arising and, at the same time, achieve a higher level of subjugation, the Romans installed a military camp nearby that would later become the city of León, so that this guaranteed the optimization of the extraction processes of the precious ore.

It is believed that the period of exploitation lasted approximately 200 years and that some 100 million cubic meters of earth were removed in order to obtain the gold. In this way, what we can see today are just the remains of an environment that just over 2000 years ago was completely different.

In this sense, the work of drilling, opening channels and other strategies applied by Roman engineering for exploitation, was what gave rise to the progressive transformation of these environments, contributing to the formation of reservoirs and elevations with reddish sand, which both draw the attention of admirers.

How to get 

Going to Las Médulas is easier than you might think, since it can be reached by car from the city of Ponferrada, in León, following the A-6. Or, making a detour when heading towards the Camino de Santiago. 

On the other hand, according to the estimate, the distance from León to Las Médulas will depend on the starting point and the way of travel, since you can also go by bus or train. If you go by car, the average is 2 hours.

In any case, once you reach the town of Las Médulas, it will only be enough to park the car in the same town, or in the municipality of Carucedo. At certain times of the year, to avoid the presence of too many parked cars, the transfer by bus from said municipality is implemented.

Some routes to know

When thinking about how to visit Las Médulas or the best routes through Las Médulas, there are many alternatives available. However, below we will mention some emblematic places, both within the complex and in its surroundings.

Orellan viewpoint

If you are wondering what to see in El Bierzo, it would be a good idea to visit the Mirador de Orellán, which offers nothing more and nothing less than a great panoramic view of the emblematic landscape of Las Médulas.

This viewpoint can be reached by car or on foot and could be visited at the beginning or end of the route. In case you reach it on foot, you should know that it is a route of approximately 600 meters, in a more or less steep climb, so it is necessary to have a certain level of physical resistance and also have hiking shoes. suitable.

Route As Valinas

Another of the main answers to the question of what to do in Las Médulas is to do the As Valiñas route. It is one of the most visited routes, due to the beauty of the journey and that its level of difficulty is not too high.

The path of the valiñas, as this route is also known, comprises an estimated distance of 4 kilometers, and has a circular path, with the starting and finishing point at the visitor reception center located in the town of Las Médulas.

Depending on the speed with which you walk and the time you stop to contemplate the landscape, the visit can last between 1 hour and a half or 2 hours maximum. Of course, if you decide to make the detour to the Mirador de Orellán, it may be that the time of the journey takes a little longer, but not too much.

Once you know the essentials in relation to this beautiful place with historical, cultural and natural value, you should keep in mind that there are many other route options to get to know the Roman marrows, for which you will probably have to carry more complete equipment, such as the case of hiking backpacks

If you decide to do a deeper exploration, it would be convenient to opt for an accommodation service in Las Médulas and sleep in the region, to continue the journey the next day, after the appearance of the sun’s rays. Of course, depending on the season of the year in which you visit.

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