Tucked away in the north of Leon is a real gem; a place which has to be experienced to understand how beautiful and ancient it is. Las Medulas is an old Roman gold mine set amongst red sandstone teeth which alone evoke feelings of amazement and wonder.
The road to Las Medulas ends at the village of Ponferrada where a modest car park is backed by a booking office and museum of the area. A short walk beyond that takes you to the hub of the village where locals wander with little interest in the visiting hordes.
In truth the place never seems to get overcrowded as it’s a difficult place to reach without your own transport.
Old stone and wood houses appear dotted randomly across the pueblo and the streets barely seem as such; more like spaces between buildingss that happen to give the appearance of passageways. First glances put you back 150 years to a world without the trappings of technology and internet, when people lived simple and natural lives.
With tourism the technology and modernisation has crept in as witnessed by the building of restaurants and a fangle, air conditioned tour guide office (manned by very pleasant bi-lingual staff), but to all intents and purposes, Ponferrada is still a very humble village.
Central to the village is a church which looks still to be the hub of social intercourse between locals although a few bars also seem like popular haunts.
One of the last houses before the entrance to Las Medulas mines belongs to an old woman who grows her own fruit and vegetables which she turns into chutneys and salsas for sale at the bottom of her steps. She also offers a range of raw honey which rack up like science experiments in jars on her wall.
Ponferrada is a gentle welcome to Las Medulas and is a welcome respite after several hours walking the local area.
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