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The “El Dorado” of Gerês


From wealth to misery is a hop!
It is a surreal place, reminiscent of deserted post-war cities. Ruined buildings and abandoned mines surrounded by ghostly silence.
In the heart of the Peneda Gerês National Park, the Minas de Carris, at 1440 meters of altitude, was at the time a continuous succession of opportunities for some to get rich and others to lose their lives trying to survive, stripped of expectations and crushed by the pyramid of power.
We will travel back in time to the year 1943 and discover in each stone, what moved these controversial people and, in an ancestral challenge, review the history of the most important exploration of tungsten in Portugal.
We are in the middle of World War II and this coveted ore was of strategic importance, given its use in the manufacture of war material. Tons of tungsten was exported to Germany, initially legally and later as contraband hidden in wine barrels.
The region, in the 1940s, became an “El Dorado” completely altering the habits of the inhabitants of a rough and hard region, like the life of a people who for years struggled to get off the land and who, from day to day. At night, he discovered wealth at the height of a wealthy heyday, and then plunged into the most vile misery.
Historical records refer to tungsten prices in the order of 300 escudos for each kilo, which led to the abandonment of lands and herds, wages for months lost in the game and widespread and abusive use of firearms.
As it becomes a protected area, your visit always requires special care for the fragile surrounding environment. Access is via a pedestrian trail, the starting point of which is located next to Portela do Homem.
It's worth visiting!