Walking or by mountain bike, for those who are passionate about paths this is a unique experience. We are talking about the Mining Route of Saint Barbara, in Sardinia.
We are in the far south-west of the island, on the ancient historic mines’ trails that reach the sea. It is a historical, cultural, natural and religious itinerary dedicated to St. Barbara, patroness of miners, which stretches for about 250 kilometers along the old mining routes that go through worship places and churches dedicated to the Saint in the abandoned mining area of Sulcis-Iglesias and Guspinese, which includes the 65% of the Sardinia’ Geo-mining Historical Environmental Park, recognized by UNESCO.
Crossing the worship places dedicated to St. Barbara means to discover the ancient paths traveled by miners to go to work, the old mule tracks and railroads built to transport the raw and mercantile minerals.
The mining Sardinia represents the collective memory of a people who grew up and suffered with its deposits. A territory shaped by the extraction’s infrastructures, an inescapable devotion to the patron Saint of miners.
Where once used to pass swarms of ‘blackened’ workers, ready to disappear into the darkness of the underground galleries, now you will just meet tourists and passionate guides. Old mule tracks, cart roads and railways are living a time of conversion and you must try this experience.
The path - candidate for the Italian Green Road Award - starts in the mining town of Iglesias, it passes through the dune system of Piscinas, through forgotten mining towns, industrial archeology underground sites and many worship places dedicated to St. Barbara, then it goes back to the starting point after 24 stages on foot or a week of bike tour for cyclists.
An average gradient of 6%, and short distances with an average gradient of 10-15% , along the way there are rest stops, services and guided tours to underground sites, booking compulsory.
The path is not well marked and in some places not perfectly traced, so it is advisable to do it with a guide or with someone who knows the territory.
The ‘Pozzo Sella’ Cultural Association has worked for six years to make the Mining Route of St.Barbara a major European itinerary.
The primary goal is to add it in the European Cultural Routes established by the Europe Council, in order to start the creation, also in others European old mining areas, of a mining roads’ network in the Old Continent, dedicated to the miners’ patroness.