Photo of Ponferrada

Visit Ponferrada

Ponferrada is a city on the confluence of the rivers Sil and Boeza in the province of Léon in Spain. It is about a hundred kilometers west of Léon.

Explore Ponferrada

Under Roman times this area became the largest gold mining area in the whole of the Roman Empire. The mining took place at Las Medulas which is now a beautiful area of striking red rocks.

The town continued to grow and in the late 12th century it was given to the Order of the Temple who built the Castle of the Templars. More recently Ponferrada has had an industrialized past.

In 1881 the railroad arrived in Ponferrada. Mining of tungsten became important during World War I and in the early 20th century it also became an important coal mining area.

Ponferrada town hall

In the late 1980s most mines closed and the focus was shifted to tourism and wine production. Tourism has become important for two main reasons. Ponferrada is a stop on the Way of Saint James from France to Santiago de Compostela.

This pilgrimage has become increasingly popular and has led to large numbers of visitors to the town.

The other key attraction is the proximity to Las Medulas and this area of ancient Roman gold mines with its stunning red rock landscape is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whilst Pontferrada does have rather unattractive outskirts it has an attractive old town. The turrets and battlements of the Castle of the Templars give it a rather fairy-tale look and it is open to visitors.


The castle was originally built to protect pilgrims on their way to Saniago-de-Compostela from attacks by the Moors.

Around the castle are quiet streets with overhanging houses and arcades. The main square, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento with its attractive 17th century town hall is a highlight and is a pleasant place to sit for a drink or a meal and watch the pilgrims arriving and leaving.

The Porto del Reloj with its clock tower is the main entrance into the square and was built in the 16th century.

The Calle del Reloj, street of the clock, conects the town hall square to the basilica square. The basilica is Renaissance in style with a Baroque tower.

There are a number of interesting churches both in the town and in the hills surrounding the town.

The church of San Andres is near the castle and has a Baroque style altarpiece. The Church of Santiago de Penalba is located in the Oza valley 14 kilometers from Ponferrada dates back to the 10th century.


Places to visit near to Ponferrada

The nearby Las Medulas is a beautiful landscape of red rocks created by Roman gold-mining activity. It is well worth a trip.

Astorga is also a town on the Way of Saint James and is beautiful and has some historic sites to see. It is home to a Bishop's Palace designed by Antoni Gaudi.

The village of Castrillo de los Polvazares is one of Spain's most beautiful villages.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Leon guide, and the Castile and Leon guide.

See also Find Ponferrada hotels

Map of Ponferrada and places to visit


Ponferrada places to visit

Las Medulas

Las Medulas

Las Medulas is a beautiful area of striking red rocks created by an ancient Roman gold mine.

Las Medulas guide
Castrillo de los Polvazares

Castrillo de los Polvazares

Castrillo de los Polvazares is one of Spain's most beautiful villages. It was built in the 16th century in a lovely reddish stone.

Castrillo de los Polvazares guide


Astorga has a fine cathedral and a multi-turreted palace the Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace) designed by Gaudi.

Astorga guide


Verin is a town with 17th century houses. The imposing Castillo de Monterrei stands above the town.

Verin guide