Here we are in the city of Templars, who did not stay here more than 20 years but left a beautiful Castle. Ponferrada is also the city of mining that dates as back as the Ancient Roman Empire.
Last week I posted an article on Las Medulas, the famous Ancient Roman mining sites, the place they would extract gold and other materials. Interestingly the today’s city of Ponferrada is also known for its mining operations and perhaps after seeing this article, you will also come here for this reason: See The National Energy Museum. But more on that later.
Like I said in the previous article, I left the Orange Rocks and headed towards Ponferrada, that I met at night time, with many restaurants already full and empty stomach.
Luckily, a restaurant dedicated to the pilgrims of the St. James Route was still offering a few free tables. The reason for this choice was the non-fish dedicated cuisine that most restaurants seemed to advertise. Also at this restaurant (cannot remember its name), for the price of a glass of wine, they gave a full bottle from their personal reserve. The food was a bit salty for my taste and the wine good so look out for this place.
Now if you looked at the map above this article, you would see that on it a brown symbol that resembles a fortification on the lower side of the circle I made. That is true to the whole theme of the city. For instance, the hotel in which I stood was also based on a Templars theme. The building itself, the entry salon, the furniture in the rooms, the door handles and the windows were all made to look like from that period of time. Even the huge key was shaped in a T letter.
Ponferrada train station.
The hotel in the morning.
Well, I guess I should also show the Castle.
This Castle is huge, totaling 16,000 square meters. It has 2 levels, and yes you can walk on top of the walls. In fact, the route starts there, leading towards an interior garden where old ruins can be seen.
Inside the area there are several other attractions such as a museum filled with clothing from the era, and also screens to show the history of the place and its connection to the pilgrims.
There are diagrams such as this one that represents a battle formation outside of the walls.
A two-level high library, with very old books and a beautiful bird drawings collection.
Also from this high point, there are many beautiful angles, that reminded me of my visit to Munchen.
Here is the San Andres Church.
Once you buy a ticket to a museum, there is an option to visit all 3 major ones. In fact, the most beautiful is not included.
This one, for instance, is the radio museum. A collection of radio equipment stored and displayed. Sadly I did not arrive on time, so the museum was closed. Had to leave it for another time.
Now that is because I actually started my museum visiting with the one closest to the Hotel: the Train Museum.
Quite an interesting one, and if you ask me, is better than the one in Madrid. (the one at Monforte is just… a good one 😅)
They even feature a simulation cabin.
Most steam locos are in tight condition, but they also feature a fully rusted one. No climbing on them.
There was also a wagon that featured inside a medical bed that was in upwards position. Very interesting and a beautiful artifact from the steam age.
The museum is half empty, so I believe at some point there are other locos to be seen or in future they will put more.
There is also a Steam loco that has a section cut for educational purpose.
And also on the streets, there is a graffiti with trains.🚂
Rail bridge over Sil River.
But I said this city is also known for mining. In fact, I can actually say that is also known for trains.
Truth be told there is only one museum that I would resee for hundreds of times, because of its beauty and that is The National Energy Museum.
Here there is another world, but also a weird one (I will end my review with it). For instance, from the entrance, you will see live like posters put vertically, that as you walk in front of them, they come to live. Old man and women can be found around the museum, people that once worked at this Spains first coal-fueled plant that was opened in 1949.
Here we see a beautiful and in perfect condition steam locomotive, that features smoke and sound. How cool is that 😍
Also on the windows, there are blueprints of the Loco itself and the coal wagons.
They would come here, drop off the coal and get out the let the next train deliver its precious cargo.
We are now on the left side of this blueprint.
Steam in action (actually is smoke from a smoke machine, but is very neat). Who would have known that in the least mediatized tourist city, my best Spanish museum would be?
Inside this orange brick building, the true steam comes to life.
These are the furnaces so high and packed with small perfectly shaped orange bricks. And this is no fake thing, is the real one.😳 Once you see this and come back to the real world, you ask yourself, how does a modern-day electricity plant look like?
Speakers hidden inside the furnaces, make a huge noise once you are in the appropriate area. Lights inside also help to add to the realism of this whole place. Not even the Germans could not replicate this in the Dutches Museum (or maybe it wasn’t their goal to do so).
But the contact with the real world stops once you are in the high area. If they would have had steam simulated, escaping the vents and filling the air, this would have been a 10-star museum out of 5. Even so is very cool and very very wow like. But this is not over yet.
There is also the room with the three generators, isolated from the heated and steamy room. In fact, the plates say that this room, all white, and no furnaces, was the hottest one, since, in those pipes, there was very hot steam, circulating and pushing the palettes of the turbines, inside the generators.
From here, there are other systems shown to aid in the transportation of the electricity into the mainline. Since the photos are not so artistical, I end this museum with an image of the huge tower.
Probably the worst part of the museum is the Restaurant. People do not really understand English or broken Spanish language, spoken by a Romanian guy. Also, this place was actually full of people, while the museum was empty. Like no other people were inside, apart from the lady at the entrance. But they probably have seen the place numerous times and now they just enjoy a coffee.
And no I haven’t recognized no one in the restaurant to match the ones from the clips shown in the museum.
The museum is very very beautiful and if you find yourself in the area of Ponferrada, skip whatever you are doing, check this place out, see also Las Medulas and go to Leon. (article published here)
Oh and yeah, the last passenger steam railway was the legendary Ponferrada Villablino line. After that, no more steam in Europe.
As I was moving on towards another beautiful location, I found myself next to the Mino River.
This is the view from a Mirador point, that can be found if you come from Monforte and go to Ourense, just after Segade village.
Please like this post if you feel like it and also please visit the Energy Museum at Ponferrada. You will so not regret it.
Until next week,