Unspoilt vegetation, crystalline sea, sandy beaches are undoubtedly Sardinia’s “tag” words but the territory’s abandoned mines are equally representative of the island and incredibly evocative and bewitching. These old mines and workers’ villages were closed over twenty years ago, their undeniable beauty and particularity caused the “UNESCO” to turn them into heritage of humanity, creating the Geomineral, Historical and Environmental park of Sardinia. This meant restoration and renovation of these fascinating pieces of industrial archeology that opened their doors to the public a few years ago. One is free to wander around and imagine what the atmosphere must have been like in full activity…the noise of the mining trolleys, cries of the miners, rising dust. If only these edifices could talk.. is a frequent thought of mine.
The mines are mostly concentrated in the south western coast of the island near the towns of Iglesias, Carbonia (coal in Italian..) and Arbus.
A VERY BRIEF OUTLINE..
Mining was once Sardinia’s most important industry dating all the way back to the Phoenicians and the Romans. The real boom came in the 1870s also thanks to the introduction of dynamite which made extraction amazingly easier! Lead, silver and zinc were the three distinguishing minerals of the area. The mining industry thrived for more or less a hundred years, and the island witnessed the building of immense mining villages, often situated by the sea. In the 1960s, the reduced demand of coal and the high extraction and export costs sees the industry decline slowly but surely, concluding with the closure of the mines in the 90s.
Montevecchio, also known as “Gennas” is a big mining village north of the town of Arbus, it was known for its large production of zinc, but following the drastic drop of its demand, was closed in 1991. With a small charge ranging from 6 to 14 € (depending on the number of routes) one can visit the village and go on a tour of the old abandoned buildings, observe the school, hospital, church depicting the miners’ families everyday lives.
For further information please go to the website www.minieramontevecchio.it Tel: +39 070 973173
The mines of Ingurtosu are only a few miles away from Montevecchio, the name Ingurtosu originates from “gurturgiu” which means vultures in Sardinian dialect, these rapacious birds used to inhabit the area and even today you can still see the odd one planing in the sky. Ingurtosu is in the midst of the sandy dunes, its mines were used to find zinc, silver and lead. By the beginning of the1900s, there were over 5,000 people living in the mining village. The main offices were built in late 1800, their construction in an elegant neo-medieval style that does not go unnoticed.
NEBIDA and MASUA
The mining area of Nebida, located on the western coast 15 km from Iglesias, is one of the most beautiful archeological exhibits, due to its stunning location on a cliff overlooking the sea. There is a panoramic path starting from the village with a long flight of steps with breathtaking views of the coast leading to the remains of the Laveria Lamarmora coal washer.
Three km further up is the small town of Masua and the mine of Porto Flavia, literally set in a cliff with steep drop on the sea. The tour of the mine is usually led by the miners who will give detailed and engaging explanations while exploring the galleries equipped with mining helmet! At the end of the tour, a must is the terrace with an absolutely breathtaking view of the sea and the famous rock islet “Pan di Zucchero” .