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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

A Mysterious Mine & A Chapel
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 @ 7:25 PM


There are few more mysterious places than an abandoned mine. You are not often presented with the opportunity to visit one, but in La Jayona, in the mountain range that separates Extremadura from Andalusia, you have the only chance to do it. Walking through the passages of this excavation you can see how the hands of man and nature have joined together to create an unequalled landscape, steeped in history and mystery.

Right in the middle of the La Jayona mountain range, about five kilometres from Fuente del Arco, an experience steeped in nature, history and adventure is waiting for you. The La Jayona Mine closed down in 1921. Until then, hundreds of long-suffering miners had laboured to extract iron ore. At first, they worked with the help of horses, later with that of an overhead cable connecting the mine with the railway station.




More than seventy years passed before the mine was rescued from oblivion and declared a Natural Monument in 1997. During the dark years of excavation, nature had taken over the abandoned galleries to create a rich ecosystem that today coexists with the mining remains of the cavity. Fern, climbing plants, moss, insects, bats and even birds live in the rocky recesses of the mine.

Inside, the galleries follow the natural veins of the mineral, which enables one to observe geological phenomena such as fold hinges, karstic processes, striation and slickensides. Each one of these formations, blended with nature's exuberance and the sunlight that peeps through small cracks and cavities will make your tour of the mine an exciting, magical experience.

Before visiting La Jayona - admission is free - you need to telephone the Fuente del Arco Town Council (667 756 600). The council organises the groups and a guide shows you the three galleries that are open to the public, although there used to be 11 in operation. Outside, the remains of the rubble and munitions dump still bring back memories of the area's industrial past. 

The mine is Fuente del Arco's main tourist attraction, a small village that still lives around its Plaza Mayor, where you can see the parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption.

The most important building in the municipality is the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Ara,  located a few kilometres away in the mountains. It is a Mudejar and Baroque-inspired church that is unremarkable from the outside but leaves visitors literally speechless when they enter. The walls and vaults are covered in frescos of great beauty and colours which certainly remind one of its “big sister” in the Vatican.


From Fuente del Arco there are several possible itineraries for getting to know the rest of the towns in the region of Campiña Sur. For example, the remains of the Roman Regina theatre are in Casas de Reina. The town of Reina is notable for the Arab fort that towers over it. You can also take advantage of your stay in the area to follow the routes of the different royal droving rights of way used by shepherds to take their flocks of sheep from Extremadura to Andalusia. The border character of this land is reflected in its gastronomy, which is a mixture of hearty mountain fare and dishes of Arab origin.

So if you happen to be in the area stop by and take a look.



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