During our last visit to the Algarve this Easter we did a trip to the small town of Minas Rio Tinto in Spain. There has been mining of various metals in the area for thousands of years and it's well worth
a day trip to explore what mankind has done to this area.
Why a trip to Mars? The landscape and scenery has been massively impacted by man and the desire to mine precious metals from this area. The area around Rio Tinto (and on the river particularly) has been dramatically altered by man's intervention. The river and rocks are red is some places. The pH of the river for example is 2.2 (very acidic) and this means normal wildlife can not easily use it as a water source. The google earth image attached shows just how dramatically the landscape has been changed.
Rio Tinto is an easy 90 minute (120 Km) drive from the Villa. You basically head into Spain towards Huevla on the A49 and just beyond Huevla, take the N-435 towards Badajoz. The roads are good and traffic fairly light.
The GPS co-ordinates of the main Museum in Rio Tinto are: 37°41’37.30″N, 6°35’47.56″W.
There are 4 main attractions in the area:
We thoroughly enjoyed the ride on the mining train. This took about 1.5 hours, 35 minutes to the old station of Los Frailes, a short 20 minute stop and then 35 minutes return. The journey is fascinating; starting off through an industrial landscape with rusting mining equipment before transitioning to a more natural vista. All the time following the course of the Rio Tinto river with it's unnatural colours.
A few tips:
For those of you who are fascinated by history, this area of Spain was where one of the world's largest metals and mining corporations, the Rio Tinto Group, began. There's a nice write-up on wikipedia describing how the company was formed