|Descending into the tunnels|
…water from springs, rain, and melting snow was collected in large reservoirs, which led by a system of well built gravity canals to the mines themselves, over long distances. Galleries were cut into the sterile strata many metres deep that overlay the layers of auriferous conglomerate. When the sluices of the dams were opened, enormous quantities of water flowed into the galleries, which were closed at their ends. The pressure thus built up caused the rock to explode and to be washed away by the water flow, forming enormous areas of tailings, several kilometres in length.It’s for this intimate look into ancient technology—not the bizarre, wrecked landscapes—that Las Médulas was named a World Heritage Site for cultural reasons.
|Safety first! gotta wear those hard hats|
|View from the other side|
|These pretty purple flowers were everywhere|
Although from this quiet, chilly outcropping you could see snow-capped mountains in the distance, the thatched-roof hut held a smoky, wood-fired hearth within. This hut was also packed for la comida but we managed to commandeer some benches. Among the many raciones (platters) we ordered to share, I loved the one that had various local sausages and cured meats like the cecina or cured beef so typical in the Bierzo region.
|Palloza in the town of Balboa|
What other kinds of atypical ancient ruins can you think of? Would you make the effort to drive out to see Las Médulas? Comment away in the discussion below!
For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr.