Industrialisation in Spain varied geographically. Three regions were the pioneers: Euskadi (Basque Country), Asturias and Catalonia.
In the Basque Country, the iron industry was concentrated. This was because of the presence of iron ore with low phosphorus content, which was mainly exported to England. In the 17th Century, there were nearly 900 forges, and the remains of many of them have been preserved. In the north of Bilbao, the old iron mines have created an impressive mining landscape. A large number of industries that have left much evidence of the mining of minerals and iron production are concentrated on the 13 km long estuary of Bilbao.
Asturias has a tremendous heritage of coal mining. The "Museo de la Mineria y de la Industria" (MUMI - museum of mining and industry) in Entrego-San Vicente presents the industrial history of the region which is based on coal.
Catalonia contains most of the Spanish textile industry, with many small and medium-sized factories throughout the whole area.
Southern Spain contains the country’s most spectacular mining heritage. In Almaden (in the region of Castilla La Mancha) there are cinnabar mines (mercury sulphide). The mercury mined here served to wash out gold found in
In Andalusia, industrialisation began very early due to its large deposits of ore. The copper mines of Rio Tinto and the lead mines in Jaén are amongst the sites that have great importance nationally and internationally. In the region of the Rio Tinto mines, where the mines have been exploited since pre-Roman times, a peculiar landscape was created by the uncompromising exploitation of resources. Also, the landscape near Jaén is characteristic, influenced by the so-called Cornish engine houses scattered across the area. There are also many mines in Andalusia extracting other raw materials such as iron, gold, silver, sulphur, and coal.
In the region of Murcia, in the south of Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast, stand the "Sierra Minera", the "Mining Mountains". Here the town of Cartago - nova (Cantagena) became rich by mining silver, lead and other minerals since ancient times. The intensive exploitation of the mines after the civil war has left a large area with huge environmental problems, but nevertheless, they are also interesting mining sites.
It is surprising that two cities, today known for their tourism, were the first industrial centres of Spain. In 1826 the first blast furnaces of Spain were built in Marbella; parts of its construction still remain. In Malaga various industries emerged, especially in the textile sector, of which only a few examples have survived.
In the delta of the Guadalfeo River in the province of Motril, there are the last remains of the cane sugar industry, unique in Europe.
Based on: Eusebi Casanelles, Miguel Álvarez Areces, " Industrial Heritage in Spain " (Industriekultur 4/13 , pp. 2 ff)
Barakaldo. Altos Hornos de Vizcaya Steel Works