After Monforte de Lemos the next destination -> Las Medulas. Ideally is better to reach it before the sun is about to get down so that you can find a sweet spot. Soon the shadows get long, the light turns warm, the orange stones get even more orange with a violet accent and if it’s not cold, best time-lapses can be made.
If you look at the map it may seem like not much of a distance, but in fact, in large portions of the road, (namely in the valley) there is just one traffic lane per direction, meaning that the speed will be most times between 60 and 70km/h. More than that, there are agricultural large vehicles who limit the speed even further. Which means that at some point I was pretty sure that I will not make it on time and all I would see is through long exposure photography.
But the road cleared out of traffic and was replaced by tons and tons of curves with not much visibility up ahead.
At some point, we started to see the orange rocks and boy oh boy is this view unique. I have never seen such a thing in my life. I mean I saw orange soil (in the proximity of Madrid) but not this kind of relief. It looks like cave stalagmites, but huge ones, pointing towards the sky. 😳
Las Medulas is, in fact, a historical gold mining site dating back to the Roman Empire Age. Also, this place is part of the pilgrim route and a big tourist attraction. In fact, just after this trip, I told my friends at work that I loved Ponferrada (next week article) and Las Medulas was cute… But they only saw Las Medulas and never went visit other places.
So what is it that makes it better than the things I saw in Ponferrada?
Well, the view is completely unique. Post or share one picture of it, and people who know, will recognize the place in less than a second.
Then there is the pilgrim route and…
Here was (according to Wiki) the biggest open pit gold mine in the Roman Empire. Due to its beauty and historical importance, it is also listed by the UNESCO as one of the Wolrd Heritage Sites.
This landscape resulted from the wrecking of the mountains, by the Romans, in search of the Gold. Basically, it was a hydraulic type mining that involved undermining a mountain with large quantities of water from near basins. (one can also be visited)
This whole region is very rich in resources and it can be seen even today, as presented in the future article.
To get an areal view fast, there is a top of a large hill, to which you can even get by car. The road is accompanied by the yellow Shell symbol (St. James Pilgrim Route) but… The road is so narrow that you can barely fit a car and a human side by side. Imagine if someone comes from the opposite direction… 😅
This place is beautiful and I would return just to make the whole area on foot (there are several hiking routes) just like the many maps show.
But for now, is time to go to Ponferrada.