10 Days in Andalucia: Huelva Province and the Rio Tinto

The Mister studies Ancient Roman history and economies, so when we read about a place called Rio Tinto (or Riotinto if you are referring to the town rather than the river) that was a mining site since the BC’s, we had to visit. It was only a few hours away from parts of Andalucia I had driven through before. However, it was completely different. In fact, it looked like a combination of Mars and the Grand Canyon.

Riotinto was first mined using tunnels, but later the whole hillsides were sheared off using jackhammers. Which was too bad, because we were looking forward to visiting the Roman parts. The closest we could come was a tunnel leading from an old processing area to an incredible red lake.

Nowadays, the titular Rio Tinto is little more than a trickle, but it is still impressive. It turns these weird colors because of a combination of the minerals leaching into the water and the bacteria that feed on it. I’d made my Mars comparison before I found out how accurate it actually was! Traces of the same kind of bacteria has been found in samples from the red planet, and scientists believe that it could have gotten its red color from processes similar to what is occurring to this day in the area around Rio Tinto. They even bring Mars rovers out to test driving around the landscape.

We had our breath thoroughly stolen during our sojourn, and then we headed on the scenic route through the mountains on our way to Cordoba. Come back on Monday to see my pictures of my FAVORITE building in the world, La Mezquita.

Missed other posts in the series? Check out em out!

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