Villafranca del Bierzo to Parador de Santo Estevo

Our first stop this morning was the lookout over Las Médulas. Las Médulas was the largest hydraulic gold mine in the Roman Empire. The miners dug extensive tunnels and long canals to funnel water into the tunnels and wash away the gold bearing ground. This hydraulic mining washed away a massive amount of the mountain. You can see what was left of the mountain they mined in the terrain we saw from the lookout.Above you can see the outlet of one of the tunnel complexes. This tunnel is now called Galerias de Orelián. We went down into it until we came to the outlet in the picture above.When we came out of the tunnel we drove down into the valley to the museum. They had an excellent video that helped me to appreciate how much earth was moved by this massive mining operation almost 2000 years ago. There was also a model that showed the terrain left by the mines.We took the back roads to where we are staying tonight. Along the way we stopped at a gas station and bought fresh bread for our picnic lunch.After the picnic it started raining. The route to the Parador was green and lush. .The Parador de Santo Estevo where we are staying is in an old monastery. The rooms are big and beautiful with great views. They are situated around the cloisters.

The dining room where we are dinner is in the old stables.