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Rio Tinto

Discover the red river and cosmic landscapes of an ancient mining city in Andalusia


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The landscapes of the ancient mining town of Minas de Rio Tinto will make you feel as though you're on the moon. Only one hour from Seville, they will also transport you back in time. It is said that Rio Tinto is home to the fabled mines of King Solomon. Locals say that the Romans worked so intensively on the mines that they were among the most prized rewards yielding from Iberia.

Local writer Juan Cobos Wilkins wrote the bestselling novel El Corazon de la Tierra (The Heart of the Earth), based on the story of a popular uprising at the mines in 1888. Eventually, this historical event was transferred to the big screen and portrayed as a film.

How did this moonscape come to be? The search for iron ore, copper, silver and a host of other mineral ores has painted the land in a variety of colours. The predominant ores are ferrous, meaning they oxidize when they come into contact with the air. This process has coloured the land and river red and brown.

This river is the most visited site as it has a mystical and unique appearance. It is also likely one of the emptiest sights on earth. There are no people standing on these riverbanks as many have long been relocated to nearby villages and towns. In the middle of the city, there is a destroyed amphitheater, which complements this otherworldly planet perfectly.

You can visit the abandoned city and look at this incredible red-coloured river all year round, except a few days such as 25 December as well as 1 and 6 January. However, if you don't like exceeding hot temperatures, you should probably avoid two hottest months which are July and August; and if you are worried about the rainy weather, the wettest months are November and December.

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