El Bierzo

El Bierzo

Comarca Less

El Bierzo

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El Bierzo is a shire in the province of León, Spain. The valley has the administrative status of comarca (shire) and its capital is the town of Ponferrada. Other major towns are Bembibre and Villafranca del Bierzo, the historical capital.


In pre-Roman times the region was populated by the Astures, a Hispano-Celtic Gallaecian people. They were conquered by Emperor Augustus in the Astur-Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC and the area quickly became the largest mining center of the Empire during the Roman period, where gold and other metals and minerals were extracted. Numerous Roman mining sites are still visible in the area, one of the most spectacular being Las Médulas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. Romans also imported grapevines, and wine production thrived in the region until the propagation of Phylloxera at the end of the 19th century, which destroyed the majority of the vineyards.

Historically part of the Kingdom of León, and briefly a province of its own within the larger Leonese region from 1821 to 1823, with the new administrative division of Spain in 1833 the majority of the region was...
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