Riotinto: Mars on Earth



Discover a unique river. The Riotinto mining area isa landscape of excavated mountains and geometrical formations, stunning for its mineral and chromatic wealth. Take a trip through Martian landscapes on board a 19th century train and enjoy a fascinating adventure.

Infinite shades of red, ochre, violet, blue, orange, black... A rich range of colours makes up a spectacular landscape surrounding the Tinto, a river that flows across this mining area, whose principal exploitation copper. The river's water is dense, due to the metals it carries in suspension. It has a low oxygen content and is home to an important array of microscopic organisms. NASA scientists have even come to the area to investigate the ecosystem for its similarities to the planet Mars.

A trip through the mining area

It is easy to get to Riotinto. You can take a bus leaving daily from Seville or Huelva , and on arrival the best thing is to head for the Mining and Railway Museum, where they will help you organise your day. Make the most of your visit to explore the history of mining and metallurgy from the Bronze Age. Among the valuable pieces on display in the exhibition is the "Maharajah" narrow-gauge railway wagon dating from 1982, considered the world's most luxurious. There is also a full-scale model of a Roman mine where you can see the working conditions of the period.

Later, why not savour the impressive surrounding natural landscapes on board a mining train from the end of the 19th century that runs through this unique region, known as "Mars on Earth", close to the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve, in the province of Huelva. The train runs parallel to the river and close to the Riotinto mines. Discover this area's amazing mineral wealth, exploited by man for the last 5,000 years.

When the locomotive enters Pata del Caballo, an area of great ecological value, with typical Mediterranean vegetation, the contrasts of nature become all the more evident. Pine forest, cork oak, with some eucalyptus and holm oak, make up the forest habitat that is a refuge for many animal species, especially crows, rabbits and boar.

The 22-kilometre train journey through this mining region takes in Corta Atalaya, an immense area rich in iron and copper pyrite and once the largest opencast mine in Europe. The breathtaking range of colours of its curved banks provides a spectacular sight.

Finish off your day with a stroll through the town of Riotinto. Visit the Bella Vista neighbourhood, built for the English colony that brought mining back to life in the region in the 19th century and who also built the railway line that reached as far as the port of Huelva. The Victorian aesthetics of the area contrast with the typical architecture of Andalusia.

Come and enjoy this spectacular mining area, where history and nature come together in a unique region


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