300 Kilometers south of Madrid, lies the small town of Almadén known worldwide for its mercury production.
There are plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain. They come in all shapes and sizes. Even though Almadén might be one of the least visited, it has lots to offer the visitor–but beware. In the heat of the summer, it takes some work to get there and as you meander around the town looking at mercury-related sites, you might just melt.
One of the first things you see in the middle of town is this impressive statue. These men look like they are working hard! Many men, and for a time primarily convicts, were sent here to extract the mineral cinnabar which is then processed into mercury.
The mine, which has only been closed since 2000, is now a well-organized museum with guided tours. This modern building stands in contrast to the rest of the decaying town. Probably the main money-maker, the town doesn’t have many job opportunities. It looks more like this building (below), with wires hanging, cracks in the columns, and a dusty view into abandoned rooms.
You cannot visit the site without being on a guided tour, and as in much of Spain, it is closed between the hours of 2:00-4:30 for siesta. The visitor’s building is very well put together, and there is a nice café inside.
Here are a few more views inside the fence of the mine.
If you like to walk, and the day is not too hot as it was when we were there, the municipality has a nice walking tour with informative signs in English as well as Spanish.
Have you been to Almadén? What were your impressions?