Museo Minero de Riotinto "Ernest Lluch"

Mining Museum Riotinto "Ernest Lluch" - Museo Minero Casa 21

Useful Information

Location: Plaza Ernest Lluch, Riotinto, Andalucia.
(37.693256, -6.596291)
Open: JAN to mid-JUL daily 10:30-15, 16-19.
Mid-JUL to mid-SEP daily 10:30-15, 16-20.
Mid-SEP to DEC daily 10:30-15, 16-19.
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Children (4-12) EUR 4, Children (0-3) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 4.
Groups (30+): Adults EUR 4.
Museo Minero + Casa21 + Ferrocarril Minero + Peña de Hierro + Corta Atalaya:
Adults EUR 23, Children (4-12) EUR 18, Children (0-3) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 18.
Groups (30+): Adults EUR 18.
Classification: MineIron Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Museo Minero de Riotinto "Ernest Lluch", Plaza Ernest Lluch s/n, CP 21660, Minas de Riotinto, Tel: +34-959590025, Fax: +34-959591074. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1925 built by the British architect R. H. Morgan.
1927 inaugurated as a hospital.
1873 mine operated by the British Riotinto Company Limited.
1885 Bella Vista built.
1921 building erected as hospital.
1927 hospital opened.
1954 mine closed.
1983 hospital relocated to new building.
1988 Rio Tinto Foundation founded.
1992 museum opened to the public.


Riotinto is part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt, which is 300 million years old and of volcanic sedimentary origin. The iron ore was produced by black smokers on the ground of a sea. The result of the low oxygen and high sulfur conditions is mostly pyrite (FeS2). But there are also a lot of other minerals and ores, generally different sulfates of various metals.


The Museo Minero de Riotinto "Ernest Lluch" (Ernest Lluch Mining Museum Riotinto) is named after Ernest Lluch, who was the first president of the Rio Tinto Foundation. He was president between 1988 and 1991, then he joined the board of the foundation. He was killed by the terrorist group ETA on 21-NOV-2000 and so the museum and the square in front were named after him on 03-MAY-2001. However, since a few years the museum is simply called Museo Minero (Mining Museum), simply because the name was far too long.

The exhibition explains the history of the villages and towns in the area, which long ago started to exploit the ores of the pyrite belt. The Museum has sixteen rooms with topics ranging from Prehistory to the end of the 20th century. One impressive feature is the reproduction of a Roman mine. There are numerous remains of mining and smelting from the different ages. The environmental and geological characteristics of the area and its influence on the history and economy of the area are explained. One of the most fascinating exhibits is probably the Maharajah's coach, the most luxurious narrow-gauge railway coach in the world. It was built for Queen Victoria and brought to the Rio Tinto mining area when she once visited King Alphonse XIII of Spain. Quite spectacular is also a historic headframe named Malacate Masa Planes in front of the building.

The Mining Museum is also the location of the interpretation centre of the Riotinto Mining Park. It is a good starting point for a trip to the various mining sites of the area. The Rio Tinto Foundation for the Study of Mining and Metallurgy is a private nonprofit institution for the conservation and restoration of the historical mining in the Rio Tinto Mining District, to offer alternative employment for former miners in the tourist sector.

The mining museum of Minas de Riotinto is located in the former hospital of the Rio Tinto Limited, the British company which operated the mine from 1873 until 1954. The building was erected by the British architect R. H. Morgan on the hill south of El Valle. Inaugurated in 1927 it offered health care for the employees of the company, but also so-called grace beds for people of the area which were no able to afford health care. After the end of the mining the hospital was operated by the Rio Tinto Foundation. Numerous renovations changed the architecture of the building, but in the 1980s an effort was made to restore it. The best preserved wing of the building was separated from the rest and became the seat of the Mining Museum. The museum was opened to the public in 1992 and has 1,800m² of exhibition space.

Beneath the main museum in the former hospital building there is a second building about 350 m to the north. It is called Casa 21 and is located in the Barrio Inglés de Bella Vista. This neighbourhood is surrounded by a wall, and it was once a sort of enclave of the British directors of the Rio Tinto Company Ltd., isolated from the local workers, maintaining their customs and privileges. The buildings are very British, and it seems they are quite popular and very well-kept by their current owners. One of the buildings with the number 21 is preserved with many details like furniture and fixtures from the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. They enjoyed their daily tea time, and indulged in sports and games hitherto unknown in Spain. The neighbourhood has a Club, today a language school, which offered courts for tennis, polo, cricket and soccer. And there is an Anglican Church.