Lead represents the heart of Linares. The economy, industry, society and culture linked to it marked the history of this city. During the Ancient Era, the lands of Oretani were worked to extract the prized mineral. Cástulo was the origin of that industry.
However it wasn’t until the 19th century when Linares turned into one of the most important mining areas in the world.
That time was the beginning of the main mining developments, the income of foreign capital, the massive arrival of workers and the creation of a diverse, cosmopolitan and open city, which still has lead as its unmistakable distinguishing mark.
If you wish to go deeper into the mining heritage, there are in Linares six short tracks (PR) described in the Mining Guide, available at the Tourist Office in El Pósito. There you can also ask for an audio guide to enjoy the route in a unique and fascinating way.
Being Linares linked to Cástulo since the Ancient Era, this old village dependent on Baeza until the mid-16th century became little by little a mining trade centre. In 1749 the Spanish State began the workings in the mines of Arrayanes. Since that moment concessions were multiplied. During the 19th century, the mining activity turned the village of Linares into a great city, which in 1849 had 6,000 inhabitants.
By the beginning of the 20th century the city had more than 38,000 inhabitants, a figure that rose to more than 60,000 by the end of that same century. The new working opportunities that mining offered from the late-19th century until the mid-20th century attracted thousands of foreigners. In 1861 there were in Linares 73 productive concessions. Only 9 years later, in 1870, that number amounted to 270. In 1861 the number of mining workers was 2,600. In 1873 there were more than 10,300 workers. In the middle of that century the first foreign companies began to set up their businesses in the city. In 1870 Linares hosted the first of many labour organisations which tried to fight against danger, abuse and low salary. Between 1887 and 1924 Linares lived 70 strikes.
Mining in Linares started to suffer its crisis by the mid-20th century. The low prices all over the world, the discovery of new deposits and the poor technical level of the workings led the mining activity of Linares to its disappearing. Fortunately, the city had been preparing for decades an economic alternative which came by the hand of industry, commerce and services, which still today represent the main activity of the city.
However, it is undoubtedly in the 19th century when this richness is scientifically worked. New working conditions that mining offered during the last decades of the 19th century attracted thousands of foreigners. Although there were 73 productive concessions in Linares in 1861, nine years later, in 1870, this number rose to 270 with more than 10,300 workers in the mining field.
During this time, the working hours for mining workers in Linares were of about 9 hours without a break. “Endoble” (completing two consecutives shifts) was quite common.
The lack of security in mines was another characteristic of these professionals’ work. Shafts were not well indicated, especially due to the lack of lighting. Moreover, rock slides as well as building collapses were habitual. Other problems of working in mines, which produced a great number of mortal accidents, were: the excess of working hours, the lack of resting time, the speed at which the works had to be completed to be more profitable and the lack of proper clothes to work in mines. These circumstances, together with the numerous lung diseases due to the inhalation of mineral dust and poison gases, considerably reduced mining workers’ life expectancy. This dramatic situation led the Marquises of Linares to become patrons in the construction of a medical establishment, the Marquises of Linares’ Hospital, which is today a Museum. It reflects the mining past of the city and the link between health and religion.
This hostile environment was also women’s and children’s working areas. They were forced to work because of their families’ economic precariousness. The highest number of workers of these fields is documented at the end of the 19th century. In 1912, a new law was passed, by which it was forbidden to women and children under 16 to work inside mines.
Miners’ living conditions were far from being considered part of welfare. The endless working hours, the daily threat of accidents, their short life expectancy with many possibilities of contracting harsh illnesses and the poor salary they obtained were factors that led to a new philosophy: “let’s enjoy today, tomorrow we might be dead”.
This new way of life provoked that miners chose self-destructive leisure activities. Drinking, gaming and prostitution were the main activities that allowed miners to bear their daily life routine.
So, it made possible the creation of a leisure infrastructure whose main aim was to satisfy workers’ necessities. For example, small shops and kiosks, where miners could buy alcohol, appeared around mines in Linares. This leisure offer was completed with casinos, cafés and cafés with entertainment. It is in this last place where the taranta ?a flamenco style which makes reference to this way of life? was born. This singing has become an identifying mark of the city. These places were where miners spent almost all their spare time, trying to evade themselves from their harsh reality.
Located in a landscape known as the Dehesa del Bago or Mesa de la Torrecilla, its primitive veins were known since the mid-16th century. The name “Tortilla” appeared for the first time in 1821 when some local miners were unsuccessfully working on it. Then it belonged to Thomas Sopwith, who came to Linares in 1864. The British businessman founded The Spanish Lead Company Limited. Since the rich vein was already located, his first aim was to bring Cornish technology in order to increase productivity.
The first place to have that technology was Lord Derby (1869), which comprised the shafts of San Federico and Santa Annie. It was the first of a series of concessions whose designations were inspired by aristocratic British names.
The most important results of such work could be seen from 1887 to 1892. The large staff working there also attests the economic prosperity starting in 1864. The production began to decrease in 1897 until La Tortilla closed down in the first third of the 20th century.
This enclave is aimed to be a touristic attraction thanks to the Visitable Mine “Los Lores”, which will be the only one of its kind in Andalusia.
So as to La Tortilla Foundry, the Shot Tower is the most outstanding element, being the highest building in the area. On its feet we find spread the rest of industrial outbuildings where metals were melted to be distributed and sold all over the world.
La Cruz Foundry
La Cruz foundry, constituted in 1830 by Gaspar de Remisa, belonged since the mid-19th century to French capital companies. After the mid-20th century its owners were Spanish again. The shot tower is the most representative construction in this place.
San Andrés Mine
After passing La Garza, you will discover the valley of Las Lagunas, a landscape full of life and colour. From that valley, with a view full of greenhouses, there is a deviation to visit San Andrés Mine (1.6 km) in the direction of La Fernandina reservoir, an inland sea located between La Carolina and Linares.
El Mimbre Mine
El Mimbre Mine is located in the middle of a track with the same name. It was one of the most relevant mines in the district and it had an important production in the 19th century. During the following centuries its production increased, turning the mine into a production model for mining in Linares.
La Gitana Shaft
La Gitana Shaft is situated in a beautiful landscape which is perfect for relaxing. It was one of the most productive mines in the area and it has a surprising rainbow effect produced in the mouth of the shaft thanks to the water inside it. This effect is usual in many shafts in the area since most of them are currently flooded.
Near the road of La Cruz Foundry, on the road that leads to the aerodrome, there are two branches, both to the left, which take you to Chaves Shaft and Alamillos Altos Mine. From both of them you can admire wonderful views of the region, with Sierra Morena at the background as the geographical limit of Andalusia.
Bomba (‘Bomb’). It was registered by Duncan Shaw in 1853. It is located in the area of Cañada Incosa, really close to the area where La Tortilla is found (PR-265).
Buena Fortuna (‘Good Luck’). Concession located in the area of Cerro Pelado, acquired by the British society The Buena Ventura.
Buena Vecina (‘Good Neighbour’). Mine registered by Juan Carlos English in 1867, situated in the Hoyo de San Bartolomé. It belongs to Los Alemanes vein. This area and vein can be contemplated from the short tracks PR-260 and PR-261.
Buenos Amigos (‘Good Friends’). Concession located in Los Quinientos vein, close to the short track (PR-264). It was exploited at first by Los Salidos, and later, by The Fortuna. In 1950, La Cruz purchased this property.
Casualidad (‘Coincidence’). It is part of El Cobre vein. It was registered by Duncan Shaw in 1853. It is located in the area of Cañada Incosa, quite close to La Tortilla area (PR-265). It was reported and bought by The Fortuna. La Fortuna Foundry was not far away from there.
Don Quijote (‘Don Quixote’). This concession can be found in Coto Minerva, belonging to La Cruz Company (Neufville). It was also demarcated by Juan Power, General Director of La Tortilla in 1904.
El Descuido (‘Carelessness’). It is situated in La Cuesta de Las Monjas and it was registered by a person from Linares in 1865.
El Desengaño (‘Disillusion’). It was exploited by La Federación Society in 1870. It is located in El Rincón de La Parrilla.
El Chorrito de París (‘The Little Stream of Paris’). Concession located in the surroundings of El Porvenir Oscuro, close to the short track PR-261.
El Embrollo (‘The Muddle’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado. It belongs to the group “El Nene”. It was registered in 1869.
El Fastidio (‘The Nuisance’). It was exploited by Acebuches Group, created by Sopwith.
El Fin (‘The End’). It was exploited in 1869 by Acebuches Group, created by Sopwith.
El Macho y la Cabra (‘The Man and the Goat’). Concessions that although at a moment were exploited separately, they ended up being worked together. They belonged to La Gitana Group (PR-264).
El Muerto (‘The Dead Man’). It was registered in 1854 by Enrique Adolfo Haselden and Santiago Remfry in the area of El Collado del Lobo.
El Nene (‘The Guy’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado. It belongs to “El Nene” Group. It was registered in 1866. It is visible from Las Ánimas Shaft (PR-264).
El Papá (‘The Dad’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado.
Fatalista 1º y 2ª (‘1st and 2nd Fatalist’).It is located in the area of Mesas de Pólvora y de los Pinos. It belongs to Trinidad Vein. In the 1880Guide of Linares, its original workings were attributed to Hannibal.
La Encantadora (‘The Charming One’). It was registered in 1930. In 1901, it was known as Encantada (‘Enchanted’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado. It is visible from Las Ánimas Shaft (PR-264).
La Graciosa (‘The Amusing One’). Concession located in Los Quinientos vein, in the surroundings of the short track PR-264. It was exploited at first by Los Salidos and then, by The Fortuna. In 1950, La Cruz acquired this property.
La Gorda (‘The Fat One’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado. It belongs to “El Nene” Group. It was registered in 1870.
La Mejor de Todas (‘The Best of All’). It is located in the area of Cerro Pelado. It was demarcated by the group who exploited La Abundancia (Guarromán).
La Orejita (‘The Little Ear’). It was registered in 1854 by Enrique Adolfo Haselden and Santiago Remfry in the area of El Collado del Lobo.
La Recompensa (‘The Reward’). It belonged to La Buena Amistad Society from Guarromán but it was purchased by La Cruz Company at the beginning of the 20th century. It is located in the area Mírameniña (Baños de la Encina).
No Cuela (‘No Way’). Concession located in Los Quinientos vein, in the surroundings of the short track PR-264. In 1950, La Cruz acquired this property.
¡Ojo Vecino! (‘Careful, my Neighbour!’). Vein located in the district of La Carolina.
Por si acaso (‘Just in Case’). Concession located in the area of Valdeinfierno, in Jarales Bajos, between Vilches and Carboneros.
Provenir Oscuro (‘Dark Future’). It is located in the low area of Paño Pico, in the district of Guarromán.
Somos Felices (‘We are happy’). Concession located in Los Quinientos Vein, in the surroundings of the short track PR-264. In 1950, La Cruz acquired this property.
Linares has six short tracks (PR), with a total of 57.4 Km. Its routes allow us to know the mining heritage and some of the most beautiful landscapes of the whole district. Most of them begin in the city itself and generally have a circular route. Apart from hiking, these tracks allow us to combine it with other sports such as long-distance races, mountain biking or horse riding. These tracks are grouped in two open and well-defined areas. The first one covers the area of Arrayanes and La Cruz, whilst the second one shows the surroundings of La Tortilla and San Roque.