Montevecchio is an old mining complex located in southwestern Sardinia, in the territory of Guspini and Arbus (known as Sardinia’s Costa Verde). Turned into a geo-mining park, the Miniere di Montevecchio mines are a must-see attraction, especially for history buffs.
In this post I will tell you everything you need to know about the Montevecchio Mines, with lots of information to visit this unique geo-mining park.
Make sure to also read my post The Most Impressive Mines To Visit In Sardinia
The History Of The Miniere Di Montevecchio
The Montevecchio area has always been rich in minerals, but the first mining complex was not created until the 19th century. Giovanni Antonio Sanna founded the mines thanks to a permit obtained from King Carlo Alberto in 1848.
The mine became operational in 1865, with a total of 1100 workers, so that this became a major mining operation for Sardinia and for the entire Kingdom of Italy. Montevecchio also became famous for its many cutting-edge technologies, such as drilling systems designed to safeguard the miners’ health.
The mine ceased operations in 1991 and was open to visits after several years of restoration. It now is one of the most unique places to visit in Sardinia.
How To Visit The Miniere Di Montevecchio Mines
You can’t visiti the Miniere di Montevecchio independently, but will have to join one of the guided tours that regularly depart from the visitors’ center. The visit to the Miniere di Montevecchio Mines is organized into five main routes, each of which takes visitors to different places in the complex.
The first route of the Miniere di Montevecchio Mines is an interesting tour of the palace built by Giovanni Antonio Sanna to set up the offices of the mining company. In addition to its administrative purpose, the palace was used by the Sanna’s family as their personal residence.
The palace features a mix between classical and Renaissance styles, with interiors filled with the typical middle-class furniture of the time. The “blue hall” is the most distinctive room of the palace, characterized by beautiful walls decorated in blue, hence the name. The blue hall was used for celebrations, meetings and balls. Separated from the luxury and comfort, the servants rooms in the upper floor are way more modest.
The second route in Montevecchio will take you to the mining structures. In fact, the first stop is the mine shaft tower, built in Gothic style and featuring a coil winch to load men and ore. The route proceeds to the miners’ living quarters, which obviously reflect the workers’ poor living conditions. It is interesting to see the comparison between Sanna’s palace and these quarters, a sign of the clear gap between the upper and the working class.
The Percorso Officina includes the various rooms of the mining complex, such as the foundry, workshop and forging hall. The forging workshop was essential for the construction of the tools used in mining, while the foundry allowed for repairs and maintenance of machinery.
This route starts at the San Giovanni pit, which was intentionally built as an ancient medieval keep. The route continues to the mining machine used in Montevecchio during the late 19th century. It was a state-of-the-art machinery for the time, and it is incredibly still in working order.
The machine was steam powered, with an output of 120 HP (horsepower) that allowed a great deal of material to be extracted in a just one hour. The Piccalina route ends with a visit to other workers’ quarters, which includes a building that was once used as a school for the miners children.
Percorso Galleria Anglosarda
The Galleria Anglosarda route allows visitors to delve into one of the mine’s galleries. About a kilometer long, the route allowed the access to one of the mine levels, where miners would extract and transport minerals. You will also observe the equipment and armor used for the miners’ safety and the tracks for the mine carts. For the visit, you will be provided with LED lamps and safety helmets.
Tickets for the Miniere di Montevecchio Mines routes
To visit the Miniere di Montevecchio, you can buy a ticket for one or more routes. Rates vary depending on the number of routes you want to follow:
1 route – €5
2 routes – €9
3 routes – €12
4 routes – €14
Reduced rates are available for groups of up to 20 people:
1 route – €3.50
2 routes – €6
3 routes – €8
4 routes – €9.50
The Anglosarda Gallery route is not included in any of the combined routes tickets, therefore it has separate rates:
Adults – €12
Groups – €8
You can get a discount on the Anglosarda Gallery ticket if you buy it together with the ticket for one of the four main routes.
The routes and the Anglosarda Gallery are free for children under 6 years of age and people with disabilities.
Visiting hours for the various routes vary depending on the time of year.
During the winter, from November until March, the mines are open on Saturday, when there are 3 guided tours departing at 2:45 pm, 3:45 pm and 4:30 pm, and on Sunday, with 5 tours in total starting at 10:15 am until to 1:15 pm.
Should you want to visit outside of the weekend working hours, you’d have to book your visit in advance by sending a request to [email protected]
Since the timetable is often subject can change, I suggest checking the mine’s official website www.minieradimontevecchio.it before visiting anyways.
What to wear and bring for your visit of Montevecchio Mines
For the surface routes it is recommended to wear comfortable clothing and closed shoes, while safety helmets and LED lights will be provided for the tour of the Anglosarda Gallery.
In the woods near the mine, you can find equipped areas with tables and seats, so you can bring lunch with you and eat comfortably. There are also several restaurants nearby, such as Agriturismo Sa Tanca and Miniera Fiorita, 200 and 600 meters from Montevecchio, respectively.
In general, I still recommend bringing a snack and some water, especially if you want to do a full tour that includes the four surface trails and the Anglosarda Galleries.
How to get to Montevecchio Mines
The best way to get to Montevecchio Mines is definitely by car.
From Cagliari, take the SS 131 northbound all the way to Sanluri. Once in Sanluri, follow the signs to Guspini and then to Montevecchio. It should take you about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
From Alghero, Sassari and Oristano you need to take the SS 131 road southbound until you reach the junction for Terralba. From there, simply follow the signs leading to Guspini and Montevecchio.
From Olbia, Arbatax and Nuoro, you have to drive along the SS 131 BIS and then take the SS 131 southbound towards Cagliari. Once again, turn right at the junction to Terralba and follow the signs to Guspini and Montevecchio.
There are two bus routes to the Montevecchio Mines: line 214 leaves from Cagliari central bus station and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes; otherwise line 208 leaves from Villacidro, but you’d first have to travel there from Cagliari.
If you are interested in exploring the mining past of Sardinia, these posts will be useful:
- A Guide To Visiting Ingurtosu Mine
- A Guide To Visiting Porto Flavia
- The Best Guide To Laveria Lamarmora, Nebida
- A Complete Guide To Sardinia’s Costa Verde