Land of contrasts, the area of S. Domingos Mine has a uniqueness that leaves no one indifferent. The mining area of Santo Domingo, part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, was from ancient times a sought after place for the extraction of minerals and there is evidence of gold, silver and copper mining works since the pre-Roman and Roman period.
Its modern operation began in 1854, at the initiative of the “Mason & Barry” mining company, which continued to operate it until 1966, with around 108 years of regular operation extracting more than 20 million tons of ore (copper, zinc, lead and sulfur). Mina de S. Domingos was the largest Portuguese mining area until the 1930s, with a continuously labour force of over a thousand workers. The mine provided a local development level much higher than the one experienced in the rest of the country. Here it was built, for example, one of the first railways to make the connection between the mine and the old river port in Pomarão. Also here it was built the first power plant in Alentejo. The local community also had accesses to a local hospital and movie theatre among other facilities.
The end of the mining exploitation – combined with the absence of an adequate rehabilitation, abandonment and subsequent vandalism of the remaining heritage – dictated the progressive decay of the territory and the population exodus. Nowadays, the development strategy is focused on the search for resolutions to the environmental problems and to the protection and valuation of the mining heritage.
On the 3rd of June 2013 the mine and urban area of Mina de S. Domingos was classified by the Portuguese authorities as a “Set of Public Interest” and currently this urban area and also the old industrial complex are part of a tour circuit that evokes the history and the living memory of the mine.
DON’T MISS |
Urban circuit: Movie Theatre; English Neighbourhood and Gardens; Workers’ Districts; Latrine; English Cemetery; Miners House Museum; S. Domingos Church; River Beach.
Industrial Circuirt: Open Pit; Ore Dock; Capstan (Malacate); Workshops; Moitinha Station; Achada do Gamo (Sulfur Plant).
The Serrão Martins Foundation organizes guided tours to the urban circuit and to the old mining complex. These guided tours are organized into two thematic itineraries:
Pedestrian circuit in the urban area of the village of Mina de S. Domingos and contiguous industrial area. The route includes buildings and ruins that represent important aspects of the social dynamics of the of mining period. At that time the urban organization of the village translated a marked class separation of the existing social groups.
On the one hand, the miners and their families live in working-class neighborhoods built “in band” with very tight rooms without any comfort conditions; on the other hand, the “English” and their spacious cottages already with electricity, toilets, piped water and their own garden, tennis court and even a cemetery with soil imported from England.
To complete this circuit, the guided visit includes a passage by the most important points of the old industrial complex: the cut mining open pit, the ore dock, the area of the old railway workshops and the ruins of the old power plant.
The visit includes: Visit to the exhibition in the Movie Theatre building, urban circuit, industrial area and entrance at the Miner House Museum (duration: 1h30 / 2 hours).
Route that runs through the ore cycle from the point of its extraction to the old river port of Pomarão where the ore was shipped in ships to England.
The guided visit includes the Open Pit; Ore Dock; Capstan (Malacate); Workshops; Moitinha Station; Achada do Gamo (Sulfur Plant) a quick stop at Santana de Cambas village and ends at the riverside village of Pomarão.
17 kms car itinerary. The participants have to use their car and should consider the inclusion of the guide. Duration 3 hours’ tour.
GUIDED VISITS BOOKING CONDITIONS
Special Conditions: Free for minors under 6. Students and seniors have a 50% discount.Miner House Museum free entrance.
Maximum groups: 25 people | Minimum groups: 6 people.
For guided visits the groups must book with a 48h advance at [email protected] or call 00 351 286 647 534 / 00 351 961 940 458 (mobile phone).
Note that the urban and industrial visit circuits are marked and have interpretative elements in English at all the points of interest.
In case of visiting without a guide its recommended (mainly in the industrial circuit) that visitors keep on marked paths and follow the safety rules stated, since the space in question contains elements of high risk (ground unevenness, hollows, chemical elements potentially toxic or corrosive and instable structures).