Las Médulas is located in the province of León, on the French Route on its way to Lugo, a short distance from Ponferrada. This picturesque enclave of great beauty is considered as one of the most valuable archaelogical ecosystems in Spain. Situated on the bank of the Sil river, Las Médulas was a gold-mine worked by the Romans. In fact, it was the largest gold-mine of the Roman Empire.
Apparently, more than 300 million cubic metres of soil were extracted in order to obtain around 800,000 kilograms of the precious mineral. Over the ages the area, far from becoming a desert, has been transformed into an ecological site of magical beauty by debris from the mine.
The lookout of Orellán commands a magnificent panorama of Las Médulas. The view takes in the clearings and the hidraulic network as well as the archeological sites. The contrast between the vegetal species that grow on the valley and those on the mountain slopes can also be seen. The large mine entrance that appears to the right is one of the galleries that was hollowed out of the mountainside, through which water run and eroded the alluvial mass. The gold was obtained by washing out the sludge.
The varied vegetation of the area consists mainly of chestnuts trees. There are also thickets of heather, Cytisus scoparius and "Carqueixa". The fauna is represented by wolfs, wild boars, partridges and rabbits.