The town of Las Médulas is located in the region of El Bierzo, Leon. This small mountain town marks the natural beginning of the ascent towards Las Médulas, a unique cultural landscape that was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO. The serrated relieve of this landscape, marked by red clayey mountains and covered by chestnut trees, owes its appearance to the Romans, who altered the natural environment in this area when they established a gold mine in the 1st century AD. For this purpose they came up with an ingenious system called "ruina montium", which used water force to crumble down the soil and expose the gold. The two centuries that this type of mining went on, caused the formation of the peculiar relieve of Las Médulas. Red-clay erosion gullies, towers, and underground galleries, all surrounded by chestnut trees, make up this cultural landscape. Peaks higher than 100 metres lead to the centre of the gold mine, the Cueva Encantada (Enchanted Cave) and Cuevona (the Huge Cave). Eight kilometres away from Las Médulas, the viewpoint of Orellán offers one of the best views of the whole place. Once in the town of Las Médulas we can see an exhibition at the archaeological learning centre, which provides the visitor with all kinds of information about the history of this singular Roman site. In the region of Bierzo, crossed by the "Camino de Santiago" (Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela), we can visit other interesting places, like Villafranca del Bierzo, Cacabelos, and the monastery of Santa María de Carracedo.
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