Travels

Route through the Las Médulas gold mine

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Not every day you have the opportunity to make a route with so much history for a so unique place like the Marrows. It seems incredible that the human being and specifically the Romans were able to hurt, mutilate and destroy in this way a mountainous place by the gold greed in this area of ​​the Bierzo. Walking through these mountains and seeing the canals, caves and holes that man made leaves you speechless. It's no wonder that the first thing that comes to mind is how they did it and how it was before.

A little history

The Las Médulas gold mine was the largest gold mining, open pit, of the entire Roman empire. For two hundred years gold was being obtained from this small corner of the Leon province. The way to extract the gold besides being very dangerous clearly undermined the environment and nature. In those times, exploitation systems were used where tunnels were excavated as if a rabbit hole was treated to then divert various torrents of water through the tunnels and thus burst the mountain with its force and pressure. When the mountain fell they channeled it towards washing channels, like the Llagúa de Yeres, and removed the mud and stones to extract gold. Around the Marrows it is common to see mountains of boulders called you died.


Already for the third century it was the end of the mining work, leaving a bleak landscape in those times and that today has been recovering through the vegetation. Since 1997 the Marrows are a World Heritage Site.

The Marrows

Las Médulas is the typical place to go a Weekend or a 3 day bridge. In a busy day or in two more comfortable you can visit perfectly. Going through them is Suitable for all ages, since you can travel both by car, on horseback or on foot. There are paths for all tastes and practically in most you will be able to bring a good taste in your mouth.


Las Médulas - From the Mirador de Orellán

For the less demanding there are paths inside where the children They are going to have a blast. In addition, there is the possibility of accessing several of the car viewpoints, so the visit can be more than complete.

If we talk about a most demanding public, with the need to see everything and also do sport, ours for genetics :), there is the possibility of doing paths of more than 10km combined with those of the interior. Even the Perimeter Path, which surrounds the Marrows, is prepared to be able to bebike ride. In any case we are going to comment later on the best alternative to see the best views and locations of all Marrows.

Las Médulas are ideal for families, couples and even for a good hiking route

What to see in Las Médulas?

The Marrows stand out for three things mainly. The first along the paths that run through the archeological area. The second for the spectacular viewpoints and its landscape. And the third through the caves that you can discover as you go through each recess of the Marrows.

We recommend that as soon as you arrive you approach the Archaeological classroom to get more information and see the options to visit the Marrows. The first thing you have to know is that within the archaeological area of the Marrows it is possible to make at least 5 small crossings:

  1. Perimeter path
  2. Path of the Valiñas. Route through the interior of Las Médulas
  3. Reirigo path. It ascends to a small peak next to the Perimeter Path
  4. Path of Lake Sumido
  5. Path of the convents

We recommend you visit thesmall museum that is inside the archaeological classroom, since they explain the origin of the Marrows. Ticket price € 1.5.


Map of the Marrows. Source: www.lagosumido.com

1 Perimeter Path

It is the longest route and is minutes to go in car, in bike or walking in most of the sections. It is a dirt road that runs through the outer area of ​​Las Médulas. It is best to combine it with the Reirigo Path and the Valiñas Path, both only on foot, since joining the three you will get the best panoramic views of all the Marrows. If you do not combine it with these two, the experience may remain somewhat decaffeinated.

The complete route, Perimetral + Reirigo + Valiñas is the one you can see to the right of the article.


Las Médulas - from the Perimeter Path

2 Path of the Valiñas

It is the busiest route of all the Marrows due to the low level of difficulty. Departure from the Visitor Center, where there are guided routes, touring a lovely chestnut. On this path it is possible to see two of the main attractions of the Marrows, the caves of the Haunted and the Cuevona. By the way, it is suitable for baby carriages, so you can get the idea of ​​the real difficulty.


Las Médulas - from the Path of the Valiñas

3 Reirigo Path

It is the most panoramic path of the Marrows. Combined with the Perimeter Path it becomes truly exceptional. It can only be done on foot and it is the one that has the greatest difficulty. There are sections with important slopes but short haul In any case, it is highly recommended for the excellent views and hidden caves What's on the route


Are you able to see me in the picture?

4 Path of Lake Sumido

In just one hour can be visited the lagoons that surround Lake Sumido. From the center of town is just under 30min, less than 2km, on a dirt road that cars can still travel today. We did it on foot, since it is a short walk if you have just arrived in Las Médulas and you have a monkey to start seeing things.

In addition to the views of the Marrows from Lake Sumido is the Chaos Maseiros Viewpoint, a little hidden at the end of the lagoon.


Las Médulas - Sumido Lake

5 Path of the convents

We did not get it due to lack of time. Part from the Archaeological Classroom and in principle it is of little difficulty and short distance.

Many people want to take the typical photograph in Lake Sumido with the reflection of the Marrows. It is supposed to be done from the opposite side of the viewpoint, but if it barely has water and it is full of vegetation on top of the lake, I am afraid that you will get little reflection. Good luck if you get it! We could not.

What are the main viewpoints and caves?

If there are certain points where the paths take their top role is when we approach the viewpoints and the strange mountain cavities. Among all the viewpoints there are two that stand out above the rest, the Orellán viewpoint and the Las Pedrices Viewpoint. If we talk about the caves we are left with three. La Encantada and Cuevona in the Path of the Valiñas and the one in the inside the Pico Reirigo, the most spectacular and exciting.

  1. Orellán viewpoint
  2. Las Pedrices Viewpoint
  3. The enchanted
  4. La Cuevona
  5. Cave of the Reirigo Peak

Orellán viewpoint

In the main viewpoint of Las Médulas and therefore the most visited. By far it is the one with the best views. To access it you have two ways. Access from the Perimeter Path or drive to the town of Orellan and leave the car in a parking lot located 600m from the viewpoint.


Las Médulas - Orellán Viewpoint

Next to the viewpoint is the spectacular Orellán Gallery, price € 3, where you can access the interior of the mines through a deep cave to another viewpoint out of nowhere.


Las Médulas - Orellán Gallery

Las Pedrices Viewpoint

Recommended to go to the sunset. We visited him both early in the morning, when performing the Perimeter path, as at dusk, since it is accessible 5 minutes by car or 20 minutes walking from the town of Las Médulas.


The Marrows. Las Pedrices Viewpoint

The enchanted

Next to the Cuevona are the caves most visited, but in our opinion not the prettiest. Both have a colossal entry, but do not rival in depth with many "no name" within the Marrows. It is located in the Path of the Valiñas.


The Marrows. The enchanted

La Cuevona

As if it were the Trail in Madrid, we saw it crowded with people, since it is accessible and within the path tour, the Path of the Valiñas. It stands out for the width of the entrance, since it would fit perfectly a 5-storey building.


Las Médulas - La Cuevona

The cave of Pico Reirigo

Unmarked and a little hidden we have this narrow cave only accessible with flashlight. When we walked along the path we found it by chance, since we have to deviate about 20m halfway to see the entrance to the cave. In order to locate it you have to travel the Reirigo Path. We recommend that you download the track of our route.


Las Médulas - Pico Reirigo

What if you visit the Marrows in two days?

For us the perfect plan was to completely visit all the viewpoints and points of interest of the medulla on foot, making a hiking route through the outside area of ​​the complex and entering the paths, such as Reirigo, to enjoy the main views of the Marrows. Besides, as icing on the cake we go down from the Orellán viewpoint to Path of the Valiñas to enjoy the shadow of the spectacular chestnut and the main caves of the interior. East travel is circular, starting and finishing at the Visitor Center.

FIRST DAY. Route of the Medulla

When we planned the visit, we first realized that the Marrows do not cover large dimensions. Making two routes, one of 12km (4h 30 min) by the Perimetral Path, the one of Reirigo and the one of the Valiñas and another one of 4 km by the Sumido Lake would be more than enough, and thus it was. We saw practically everything.

The first day we get up early to have breakfast in the restaurant of the Agoga rural complex and then start the perimeter towards the Mirador de Las Pedrices. We leave from the Visitor Center on an asphalt road that quickly became a dirt track. The route was very well signposted, since shortly after leaving the town there were already directions to the viewpoint, about 4km from the town center.


Las Médulas - Perimeter Path
Las Médulas - Perimeter path

Shortly after the Mirador de Las Pedrices we had toturn left to take the Reirigo path. There we left the wide road behind narrow one worthy of a hiking trail. From there in just 10min we rushed the top of the Pico de Reirigo, so it was relatively easy to climb.


Las Médulas - Pico Reirigo

From Pico Reirigo we could see both the town, the lakes and the Mirador de Orellán in the background.


Las Médulas - Pico Reirigo
Las Médulas - Pico Reirigo

From the peak we begin the descent by a somewhat vertical path that you have to go down very carefully and then go back up a path where there is a rope to be able to lean if you suffer difficulties. I must say that we do not find anyone on this path, in our opinion, the prettiest, perhaps because they are not on the main road and not accessible by car.


Las Médulas - Senda Reirigo

The good thing about this path, unlike having followed the Perimeter, is that there are always views of the Medulas on the left. On the other hand, there are only views of the Llagúa de Yeres.

Halfway through the great surprises, including theReirigo cave, a cave that crosses the mountain and is a little off the road. Here we recommend that you follow the track as there is no signaling. See photo above.


Las Médulas - Senda Reirigo

Already past the cave and ascending another mountain we went back down a narrow path until joining again with the Perimeter Path in the Campo de Braña recreational area, a place with several benches and with an ideal shade to take the aperitif halfway.

From the recreational area there are about 10 or 15 minutes along a dirt track through which cars or bicycles can travel to the Mirador and Orellán Gallery, the most impressive viewpoint and cave in Las Médulas.


Las Médulas - Orellán Viewpoint
Las Médulas - Orellán Viewpoint

Next to the viewpoint is the Orellán Gallery, € 3 well paid both for the helmet they offer you and for the impressive gallery, very well lit, which takes you to almost “hell”, a viewpoint with a fall of vertigo.


Las Médulas - Orellán Gallery

After being speechless we went back the same way to get off towards the Path of the Valiñas. The path is marked 100m from the viewpoint. It is a sign indicating the Enchanted. From that point we begin a long descent by a lovely chestnut until you find the main path. At this junction we went to the right until we reached the Cuevona and then to the Haunted.


Las Médulas - Castañar

For better or worse this path is really busy and it is only enough to approach the caves to hear the noise of the echo of the crowd that crowds at each entrance, but the truth, once seen the top and the viewpoints you realize that this is the dessert and what really deserves the shame you've already lived it during the route.

Finally to return to Visitors Center just take a narrow path between the Enchanted and the Cuevona that goes down between splendid chestnuts.

SECOND DAY. Visit the Sumido Lake

The route of Lake Sumido is done in just one hour (round trip). You can be a good start or a good end to see the Marrows.


Las Médulas - Path of Lake Sumido

There are people who choose to do it by car, since they are 5 min from the town center, but that way you miss the small lagoons, frogs and birds that are next to the road and the green meadows.

The route starts from the Casa Agoga Rural House on an asphalt road that soon turned into gravel and sand. Before reaching Lake Sumido, you will pass through several small lagoons, both to the right and to the left, until you climb a slope that leads to the main lake. Next to Lake Sumido, on the shore closest to Las Médulas there is a small path that leads to the Chaos de Maseiros viewpoint, unmarked, a viewpoint that shows where erosion and water caused by the Romans in times of exploitation of gold mines.


Las Médulas - Path of Lake Sumido

Recommended reading

Here is our recommended list of books that should not be missed to visit the Marrows.

Practical data

How to get?

The Marrows are at 425km from Madrid, about 4 hours by car on the A6, except for the section of county road from Ponferrada.

Since La Coruña there are 208km by car, so in just 2 h you will appear in the Bierzo and in the Marrows.

When to go?

Except in summer any time is good to visit the Marrows. In summer it is really hot and usually the route lacks shadows. One option is to get up early and avoid the sun, but it is not the same to see the Marrows in a spring in bloom or when the fields are really green.

Where to sleep?

Agoga rural house

Our choice. Fina, the owner, a charm by the way, is the owner of this group of rural houses in the middle of the town of Las Médulas. Their houses are next to the Perimeter Path and the Visitors Center.

Lares country cottages

They are houses with terraces, garden, WIFI and all kinds of amenities.

Medulas Rural Apartment

How we like rustic country houses! These houses are set on an old farm surrounded by oaks and chestnut trees. A true haven of peace :)

Medulio Hotel

Also located in the town of Las Médulas is a small aberration facing the landscape, as it spoils several of the views of the archeological zone. At least it has a large number of rooms and parking.

 More accommodations in Las Médulas

More photographs of our experience in Las Médulas

In the photographic section of Viaja por libre you can find many more photographs about this impressive place.

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