Visit to the Arnao mine, Museum of coal mining in Asturias

Visit to the Arnao mine, Museum of coal mining in Asturias

Located in Castriḷḷón, in the mining area of ​​the Principality, in a privileged coastal landscape, it constitutes the oldest mineral coal exploitation in the Iberian Peninsula, where we can see the oldest vertical well in Asturias and the only underwater mine in Europe.

This mine was the first coal exploitation in Spain, in addition to having been, together with the Royal Asturian Company of Mines, or its successor, the Asturian Zinc Mine, one of the main industrial enclaves of Asturias.

Visit the Arnao Mine

The first coal farms in Arnao began at the end of the 16th century, when a religious, Fr. Agustín Montero, a neighbor of Naveces, discovered a black mineral on the cliffs, coal. The friar asked permission to exploit the site to King Felipe II who granted it, then beginning the first exploitation of mineral coal in Spain.

The safety measures in operation were minimal. There were no helmets or breathing systems, so although official statistics speak that only 3 miners died in the many years of mining, it is thought that there would be many accidents silenced by the company.

In addition, an important amount of alcohol was included in their diet, alcoholism is a problem for miners who warmed themselves up drinking, which would also lead to numerous accidents and chronic diseases.

Along with all this, the superstitions of the miners derived from Asturian mythology, – the famous and other demons that inhabited the depths – conditioned the activity. However, the project included numerous social activities for the children of mine workers that included schools, social benefits, and other accessories for the best life of the miners.

Around the mine, a town was built, where the miners and their families lived, which was equipped with an economy, casino, hospital, and school, which was modeling an industrial village created in the environment of the mining landscape and located opposite the exploitation of this coal/zinc mine.

After first exploitation, different managers of the mine gave way, highlighting the Belgians, who exploited the coal since its acquisition, in 1833, by the Royal Asturian Company of Mines, a Belgian company that introduced numerous changes in the form of exercise the mining activity of the late nineteenth century.

Among other successes were those who built-in 1855, the castle to be able to dig in the first vertical well of Asturias, the grandfather well that is still preserved in perfect condition today.

The exploitation of the Arnao deposit continued until 1915, the year in which it was decided to close the mine and stop the extraction of coal, due to the progressive flooding of the mine’s galleries located below sea level.

Subsequently, the Mine has been rebuilt, and the Visitable Museum has been created that includes the descent to the first galleries and the exit by the sea, an unforgettable experience that we recommend you to know.

Today they have added a nice detail, a blackboard full of annotations from the visitors of the mine, many descendants of those who once exploited the coal, who have left a Wall of Memory to extol the lives of the Asturian miners who worked in the Arnao Mine.

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