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Image Las Médulas, a World Heritage Cultural Landscape
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The cultural park | Cultural landscape
 
General panoramic view mine west
 

The title of World Heritage granted to Las Médulas confers the status of Cultural Landscape on the whole area as a space combining natural and cultural values. As such this is today an explicitly recognised heritage of world reknown.

This is firstly for its historic significance: as a witness of the change to the exploitation of resources and to the way of life of local communities during Antiquity. On the one hand this was the largest open cast mine in the whole Roman Empire, with the mining clearances reaching 3 kilometres in its maximum extension and more than 100 metres deep. Also, Las Médulas is, above all, an exceptional example of a historic process. It is the best specimen, although not the only one, of the profound change that Roman gold-mining produced on the communities that inhabited the north-west of the peninsula.

It is, secondly, because of all these transformations – that one can appreciate and understand directly in situ, making this in part a relic or fossil landscape – gave rise tonew realities that have conditioned its use up to the present day. This is not a static landscape, as it has always been subject to a permanent dynamism. The historic process did not end with the Roman era.

The more than one thousand hectares transformed in the Roman era gave the territory a new articulation. The artificial plains created by the wastes from the mines created new access routes to the zone. The Carucedo Lake, produced by blocking up a valley with these wastes later became a valuable fishing resource and is today a protected wetland. The old courses of the canals that carried the water used in the gold-mining process were re-used as “lanes” or routes for communication and moving cattle by the inhabitants of the zone. The crops introduced during the Roman era, particularly thechestnut, have survived and become an inseparable sign of identity of Las Médulas. Even the same areas left by the old mining clearances have given way to new forms of land exploitation.

Its inclusion in the World Heritage List – which also forms part of the history of Las Médulas – is a challenge, not just for those responsible for its protection or for its inhabitants but for all of us. One has to consider that Las Médulas is not a renewable property and that we all need to be involved if we want this to become a lasting asset.

 

General panoramic archaeological zone northAerial photo mine southwestVoces inscriptionWastes of La BreaAerial photo Carucedo's LakePicks and chestnut treesChestnut trees with flowers Xalores

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