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Industrial tourism, a different way to visit Spain


Industrial tourism offers a different perspective on history and heritage. You can visit former factories, mines, mills, and other facilities left behind by industry and eventually reclaimed as cultural assets and tourist attractions. Alongside these sites, tours of active companies let you explore living industry in the local economy, understand its urban development and interpret the landscape. In other words, discovering how people live and work, now and in the past.

The wide range of industrial tourism options reflects Spain’s diversity. In Galicia, you can learn about the region’s relationship with the sea, and its shipping, fishing, and canning industries; in Asturias, you can visit the mines; in Cantabria, you’ll see how the splendid scenery combines with its economic activity; see how the Basque Country and Catalonia were shaped by the industrial revolution; in Castilla - La Mancha and Castilla y León, the vast fields of cereals and the flour industry are reflected in historic infrastructure, such as the Canal of Castilla; in Aragón, the infrastructure reveals their relationship with water; Andalusia is dominated by olive oil and the agricultural industry; and Madrid bears the typical marks of past and present industry of a European capital.Some of Spain’s industrial tourism and heritage sites are already on the UNESCO World Heritage list, for example, the Vizcaya Transporter Bridge, the world’s oldest ferry bridge; the mines of Almadén, which provided the mercury needed for silver processing in the American colonies; and Las Médulas, where the Romans mined gold. And many more heritage elements are official Properties of Cultural Interest (BIC).There is also a wealth of public works to discover - historic highways, bridges, dams, canals, and the irrigation systems first introduced in Islamic Spain.Other interesting options include tours of the factories that make the objects we use every day, or the workshops of artisans and small producers who preserve traditional trades and unique products that can only be found in Spain - or in a single region - or in a single village.Industrial tourism can appeal to everyone, but it is especially recommended for families, students, and professionals. Above all, industrial tourism is for people who are curious, and want to know more about the history and culture of the places they visit. It is a unique way to really explore an area and its society.