Ancient Roman gold mining site of Las Médulas, León, Spain
© DEEPOL by plainpicture/David Santiago Garci
This landscape might look natural, but it is not. Pictured here is an ancient Roman gold mining site in Las Médulas Cultural Park, in León, Spain. Romans started exploiting it in the first century and continued doing so for the next 150 years. They removed more than 500 million cubic meters of earth and transformed the landscape forever. To extract gold, a complex system of tunnels was created. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people worked on this site. Once the mining was abandoned, nature recovered, resulting in oak trees, chestnuts trees and a range of wildlife including roe deers, wildcats and boars, among other species.