Caves were completely destroyed by this very often to wash with water from the mountains and the blood of slaves and artificial lakes were formed from the collapse of the mountains. Since 1997, this place belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage site. The reservoir, west of Ponferrada, the main gold mine of the Roman Empire in the second century of our era. Although the existence of valuable minerals in the area was already known to the natives, whose use has been limited to the sieve of the bed of some rivers, it was the Romans who with their arrival in the first century, radical extraction techniques had changed.
Even if you know that this landscape was entirely due to the transformative hand of man, it is hard to imagine what was needed for an extraordinary technological ingenuity to make this region one of the most important gold mining center in the northwest of Spain.
The numbers, of course, never speak for themselves, but they can help to get a picture of this beautiful landscape. It is very likely that what we admire today is the direct result of the excavation of 8,000 slaves. In addition, there were about 3,000 men responsible for the supply, management and monitoring. In total, about 11,000 souls busy persistent and obsessive removing tons and tons of red earth with the sole purpose of separating the gold from the mud.
The first reports on the Medulas come from Pliny. He was a prosecutor and he had visited the Médulas in the year 73 where he said among other about the production techniques applied. The presence of many Roman troops, among others ?? la Legion Gemini VII, Legio X Gemini, I Gallicia Cohors la, la Cohors I Celtioberorum, el Ala II Flavio ?? can be explained by the immense wealth as well as the need to monitor the masses ?? s workers. It is assumed that the operation of the Médulas has lasted about 200 years. From the third century there have been no reports of exploits at this location. It is not known whether the cessation of activities was due to the exhaustion of the gold, or a lack of manpower or the disintegration of the Roman Empire.
It is estimated that 200 million square meters of land has been removed, thanks to the efforts of thousands of slaves and used different methods of operation. The best known and most striking technique was collapsing mountains through a large amount of water be channeled to the top of the mountain from where the water was sent through a complex network of canals, wells and galleries in the interior of the mountain. The strength of the flow caused great land collapses of earth, stones and other materials. The material of the collapses was sieved in one of the channels and at the bottom strong heath plantlets were placed in order to catch the gold nuggets. Assuming get it in this way won a million kilos of gold.
Water has played a very important role in the extraction of gold. In places where not enough water was present were measures. It was necessary to develop techniques to collect the water, it had to be guided through a variety of channels and will be deposited in a basin so that it could be used at a later time. This additional work caused in many cases more effort and effort than the actual extraction of the gold. The hydraulic system of the Médulas is quite spectacular and famous for the large amounts of water that collected as well as the length and branching of the channels. More than a thousand hectares transformed by this exploitation which the landscape was given a new look with many new roads. Also new protected lakes created by numerous releases and the blockage of the valley and the old canals which water was moved reused as paths for livestock.
The Médulas are thus a cultural landscape, the product of the Roman intervention in an area where more than two centuries, historical changes and extraction techniques. It has historical significance because it is the largest open air mine was throughout the Roman Empire. The original population has witnessed the way of life of the ancient Romans, but especially there are profound changes occur which caused the Roman gold mining in these communities. This is not a static landscape but is always subject to a constant dynamic.
- The Medulas are located in El Bierzo, northwest of the Aquilanos mountains and along the valley of the river Sil, in the province of Leon, Spain. Access via Ponferrada.
- Visitor center in the village of Las Médulas to the Head Tail, after the church about 400 meters from the parking lot.
- The visit to the Médulas is free and you can roam around as long as you like.
- The area of the park is 1115 hectares.
- There are many different walks. The shortest lasts one hour and the longest 10 hours. The trails are easy to walk and well marked, making it impossible to get lost.
- It is recommended to not go into caves but takes everyone ???? ?? a look here.
- The best time to visit this magical spectacle in the spring and autumn because of the completely green vegetation. The best view is from the viewpoint of Orellon.
It is also possible, if you have time, visit this amazing castle.
In the Middle Ages Ponferrada short time the Spanish headquarters of the Knights Templar, who owned a large castle in the village. The Templar castle in Ponferrada located near Las Medulas ?? ?? and is well worth a visit.