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22 septiembre 2022

Cuencas Mineras: a unique geological paradise in Europe

The region of Cuencas Mineras is full of surprises. Located in the north of the province of Teruel, this geotourism paradise has the First Geological Park of Spain in the town of Aliaga. With a strong and deep-rooted mining identity, you will feel like one of them visiting a real mine in the Mining Museum of Escucha. In addition, its varied landscapes will offer you a wide range of active tourism activities.

North of Teruel is the region of Cuencas Mineras, a territory that leaves no one indifferent. As a first curiosity, it has a shared capital between Utrillas as administrative center and Montalbán as historical-cultural capital. It is not in vain that it receives its own name, since the mining exploitation for more than a century has allowed it to develop a strong and deep-rooted mining identity. As proof of this, there are numerous museums and activities offered by the different localities to investigate and recall the past of this profession.

Geotourism is one of the best alternatives to do in this territory. According to some scientists, the Geological Park of Aliaga has formations almost unique in the world. And not only that, but Cuencas Mineras also reserves a space for culture and history with one of the most beautiful Mudejar churches in Aragon.

From Go Aragón, we tell you the essentials of this authentic region.

Feel like a miner for a day

The history and mining identity of this region is reflected in the best way in the Mining Museum of Escucha, located in the town of the same name. Go 200 meters deep in a real mine enabled to be visited. Put yourself in the miner’s shoes and follow the routes taken by the workers 150 years ago to extract jet and lignite coal.

Entrance to the mine in the Mining Museum of Escucha
Entrance to the mine in the Mining Museum of Escucha (Photo: turismodearagon.com)

An unforgettable experience that will allow you to contemplate the tools or utensils necessary to extract the coal, as well as a long tunnel of beams and wooden and metal sleepers that will lead you to the main gallery. In addition, below you will find the only natural coal pit that can be visited in a Spanish museum.

Travel to the Middle Ages from Montalbán

The title of historical-cultural capital of the region falls on the municipality of Montalbán. The remains of the old wall, the portals or the passages will allow you to know its medieval past. However, the jewel in the crown is the church of Santiago, one of the most beautiful Mudejar monuments in Aragon.

The low light pollution makes it the idyllic setting to enjoy astronomy. From the dome of the Ithaca Observatory you can observe the clear nights of the magical sky of Teruel. In addition, in Montalbán you will also have the opportunity to visit the Interpretation Center of Geology and Speleology of the Cultural Park of the Martín River.

Outside view of the Church of Santiago (XIII-S.XIV century) in Montalbán
Church of Santiago (XIII-S.XIV century) in Montalbán (Photo: turismodearagon.com)

The first geological park in Spain

Reconstructing the last 200 million years of the Earth is possible in the region of the Cuencas Mineras, specifically in the Geological Park of Aliaga. The geological structures and formations preserved in magnificent reliefs are considered by scientists as almost unique examples in the world. The strata, stacked one on top of the other, function like pages of books that allow us to read each chapter of our planet.

This Point of Geological Interest brings together scientists from all over the world to observe the tectonic processes that occurred during the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras as a result of the release of the Earth’s internal energy. Whether you are an expert or not, the Park offers two different itineraries. On the one hand, the more “scientific” route consists of 11 points, and on the other hand, a more “tourist” route consisting of 9 points.

Geological formations in the Aliaga Geological Park
Geological formations in the Aliaga Geological Park (Photo: turismomaestrazgo.com)

Utrillas, the nerve center of the mining industry

Life in the capital of the region has revolved around mining for more than a century. One way to travel back in time to what was Utrillas is through the Theme Park and Railway. In this place you can see through models, reconstructions and audiovisuals the evolution of mining and railroads in this town of Teruel. In addition, you will have the chance to travel along the steam locomotive tracks again, but this time as a mining tourist train.

And as a curiosity, Utrillas is doubly special because in this town were found the first dinosaur fossils in the Peninsula.

Utrillas mining train
Utrillas mining train (Photo: turismodearagon.com).

Active tourism, the perfect alternative

It is the perfect place for active tourism, whether mountain biking or hiking. Among its many hiking trails, we recommend you to do the Peñas Royas routes. A landscape similar to the colorado canyon will serve as a starting point for your excursions. Further on, you can start the simple itinerary to Pozo Boyetes, a pool of the Martín river that crosses the canyon in a bucolic enclave. This place is perfect to go with children and enjoy the sound of the water. Another more demanding but more fun option is the Barranco de la Cingla Ravine Route. More than 7 kilometers of ascents, descents, walkways and very varied landscapes.

Boyetes well in Peñas Royas
Boyetes well in Peñas Royas (Photo: escapadarural.com)

In the hamlet belonging to Vivel del Río, you will discover a route that will lead you to the Salinas de Armillas. These industrial archaeological remains correspond to ancient salt extraction facilities, whose origin could date back to Roman times. If you are passionate about history, you will enjoy this place that remains practically intact.

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