Hidden away in a southern corner of Campiña Sur is Mina La Jayona, a long since abandoned iron ore mine and one of the region’s six Natural Monuments. Set in a remote area surrounded by hills, the mine will certainly make for one of the biggest highlights in any trip to southern Extremadura.

This article offers a general overview, practical info and my personal thoughts and impressions about visiting Mina La Jayona.

Mina La Jayona_featured

The term Monumentos Naturales refers to one of five types of natural sites or elements protected under Spanish law. A Monumento Natural is a unique, peculiar, or exceptionally beautiful natural site or element. The definition also covers protected trees of special interest, geological formations, paleontological or mineralogical sites and other elements of outstanding scientific, cultural or scenic value. Extremadura has six Natural Monuments.

About Mina La Jayona

Mina La Jayona started its activity as an iron ore mine in 1900. The mineral extracted was transported by donkeys (later replaced by a cable car) to the Fuente del Arco’s train station and then on to a foundry in Peñarroya (Córdoba province, Andalucía) by train.

At its peak, the mine employed over 400 miners who dug out eleven extraction levels (drifts). After the First World War, La Jayona was the only active iron ore mine left in Badajoz province, but demand dropped and it ended up closing in 1921, after some 270 tons of iron ore had been extracted.

Abandoned and neglected for over seventy years, Mina La Jayona was declared a Monumento Natural in 1997 and has been receiving visitors since 1998.

Mina La Jayona

Visiting Mina La Jayona

You can go visit at any time of the year since the mine is open all year round. I went there in December and I must say that the surrounding hills look particularly beautiful in winter. The visit is available as a guided tour which you must book online in advance. Out of the eleven levels, three can be visited – levels 2, 3 and 4. Accessible tours of levels 2 and 3 can be arranged upon request.

Practical info

Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

Guided tours: a 90-minute guided tour (in Spanish) is included in the ticket price. There are two time slots available: 10am-11.30am or 12pm-1.30pm. The staff can create an accessible guided tour for people with mobility issues upon request.

Entry fee: €2 (general ticket); children under six go free. The ticket also includes admission to the Museo del Hierro (Iron Museum) in nearby Fuente del Arco.

Parking: free on-site parking.

Contact details: (phone) (+34) 667 75 66 00

Location of Mina La Jayona and how to get there

Located in a remote corner of Campiña Sur bordering Andalucía, Mina La Jayona is not your easy-to-get-to quick stop. Fuente del Arco (population: 680) is the closest village – a ten-minute drive away. The mine is definitely off the beaten track but 100% worth a detour from wherever your southern Extremadura route takes you. That said, it makes for a good day trip: the drive from Seville takes 1h 45min.

Mina La Jayona_location

Mina La Jayona is off the small road connecting Fuente del Arco and Puebla del Maestre (Carretera Fuente del Arco) so there are two ways to get there:

Via Fuente del Arco: if you’re visiting other places in Campiña Sur, such as Llerena, the Roman city of Regina Turdulorum or the Castillo de Reina. Llerena, for example, is about 25 minutes by car from the mine. The EX-200 road from Llerena to Fuente del Arco is a well-maintained single carriageway road with hardly any traffic. Driving from Mérida via Llerena and Fuente del Arco takes 1h 27min.

Via Puebla del Maestre: if you come from the west or from the south. The road from Puebla del Maestre to Fuente del Arco (Carretera Fuente del Arco) is an old single-track country road with tiny stretches as a single carriageway road. The mine would make a great day trip from Seville and driving via Puebla del Maestre takes 1h 45min.

My preferred option would be to get to the mine via Puebla del Maestre and then leave via Fuente del Arco. If you’re a fan of scenic drives in remote places, driving (slowly – 40km/h) through rural landscapes on the deserted Carretera Fuente del Arco is something you won’t want to miss.

Mina La Jayona: highlights


Despite ‘only’ three levels being open to the public, the tunnel network made quite an impression and exceeded my expectations. The scale of the mine and the light and shadow effects in the galleries and rooms create an awe-inspiring travel experience. The tour guide points out the many geological, mineral and mining activity details still visible and gives super-detailed explanations while throwing in numerous historical details and entertaining curiosities.

During the tour you see many different things ranging from blastholes to mineral remains, stalactites, platforms and viewpoints. However, two things deserve a special mention: the fault plane visible on levels 2, 3 and 4, and the gaping Sala de las Columnas extraction chamber at the end of level 2.

Mina La Jayona_minerals
Mina La Jayona_tunnel
Mina La Jayona_tunnel and stairs
Mina La Jayona_Sala de las Columnas


Temperatures ranging between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius all year round have created a unique microclimate and ecosystem inside the mine. Nature took over the mine during the many decades of abandonment and now visitors can see plant species that would normally be found in more humid climates, such as certain types of fig trees, ferns, moss, climbing plants and five different types of orchids. This highly contrasts with the typically Mediterranean vegetation outside the mine, in an area with temperatures of 35-40 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

The mine is also home to a wide range of animals – from rock-nesting birds such as red-billed choughs and Eurasian eagle-owls to cave-dwelling birds such as Mehely’s horseshoe bats.

Mina La Jayona_ecosystem_1
Mina La Jayona_ecosystem_2
Mina La Jayona_ecosystem_3


The views from the cable car station area fantastic. Even on a grey winter day, the green surrounding landscape against a backdrop of blue undulating sierras is a sight to behold.

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Mina La Jayona_view_2

More ideas of what to see and do in Campiña Sur

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

Hi! I’m Irene (/ee-REH-neh/). Long since settled in the UK, I explore my Spanish home region of Extremadura with an inquisitive mind, a sharp eye, and the duality that comes with being both a local and a visitor. Then I write about it here to help you discover this beautiful yet overlooked part of Spain. If you have any questions after reading this article, submit a comment below! Read more about me.

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