Las Medulas History
Nope, we are not in the Grand Canyon but in Las Medulas in the province of Leon, Spain. This impressive terrain is what is left of the largest gold mine in the Roman Empire that dominated Hispania 2,000 years ago.
Romans had a hard time subduing the Celtic tribes that populated the northwest of Spain as they resisted the invasion fiercely. It was Augustus who finally conquered these parts and learned about the pieces of gold jewelry made by the Celts.
In a few years the Romans, well known for their efficiency, extracted more than five million pounds of raw gold from Las Medulas. How was this possible? According to historians, they used the “ruina montium” a method consisting of taking advantage of water to break down the soil and bedrock.
What To See In Las Medulas
A good place to start when visiting Las Medulas is the Archeological Classroom where you can find all the information on how the gold mining worked. If you’re not too fond of history, you can take some of the routes that allow different combinations of greater or smaller distance depending on your interest or physical condition. For example, The Valiñas Path is a shorter, easier route with access to areas within Las Medulas. It is a circular route that begins in the Las Médulas town and goes though one of the mining complexes of the site. On the other hand, The Surrounding Path is the longest and the most complex one as it requires more physical effort but it gives you a more detailed view of the site. Keep in mind all routes are only allowed with specialized guides, you cannot wander on your own.
Take a virtual tour of Las Medulas: