There have been numerous civilizations that have inhabited this area. In Teso, there was a Celtic settlement; It also had the layout of a Roman road and it was the first Roman camp that served for the conquest of Bierzo, under the command of General Carisio, conqueror of Lancia, La Cepeda and part of the province of León. It became part of the Encomienda de San Juan de Jerusalem, giving its name to the popular Romanesque monastery of San Juan.
During the last century it had its peak thanks to the coal mining when many Portuguese emigrated here, taking root in these lands, they are an important community of the current Montealegre. At the entrance of the town there is a Roman milestone converted into a source of crystal clear and fresh waters.
Strolling through El Castricho we will find the church and the square, with a garden dedicated to the emperor Caesar Augustus, where they have placed a granite milestone that was used by the Romans on the roads to indicate the distance in miles. In both milestone there are still blurred inscriptions.
The church houses works such as its altarpiece, which is said to have been brought from the monastery of San Juan de Montealegre; some images of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Michael the latter crushing a demon. Finally, the baptismal fonts also stand out, being a square one.
Nearby, on the banks of the ancient Roman road from Braga to Astorga (Vía Nova), are the ruins of the church of San Juan de Montealegre.
Its people were dedicated to agriculture, livestock and coal mining.
It is a district of the municipality of Villagatón in the province of León. It is located at 1,090 meters of altitude, at the top of the Manzanal port, halfway between Bierzo, Cepeda and Maragatería. It has access to the Madrid-A Coruña highway, which is only 6 km away, and can also be reached by train with wide availability of schedules.
The route begins on the track that leads to the sports center, from where you take an old road that, between the holm oaks and oaks installed on sunny slopes, accesses the Valdecouso area, an important chestnut grove that offers, when autumn comes, its appetizing fruits; chestnuts.
Little by little, the path narrows and saves the unevenness between the previous spot and the Arroyo del Mostruelo, also known as Arroyo de la Górgora, in reference to the sound that the water makes when it springs up.
Oak, holm oak and chestnut trees slowly give way to lush vegetation favoured by the humidity and the shade of the narrow channel of the stream, which runs through the quartzite rock. Ferns, mosses, lichens and trunks of water-loving trees, tapestry on the ground.
The mysterious and gloomy atmosphere accompanies the rustic wooden bridge that spans the stream and the legend of the Górgoras
Peña Infierna or Well of Gorgora. Once you have reached this bridge, the quiet walk along the crystal clear waters allows you to enjoy the uniqueness of this hidden and remote place.
The route begins at the Church of Manzanal del Puerto, at the foot of the Nacional VI where the Cosmological Stele is located, and runs through the town with a small cultural visit that includes the Peña de Santo Tirso and ends at the Casinas de Majar, which are testimonies of the agricultural past of the area.
You continue along a path, part of the Vía Nova until you reach the Valle de la Silva where you can hear the bubbling sound of its many waterfalls, among which is the Cascada de la Retuerta that gives this route its name.
Walking along the river bank, you reach the Ferrina Fountain, which owes its name to an old iron mine that is in the upper part and which is surrounded by a grove of centenary chestnut trees.
Following the route of the mining road we arrive in the town of La Silva, where you can visit the museum, which collects its mining past and its ancient workings.
After travelling to the past, we continue our way until we reach the ruins of the ancient Monastery of San Juan de Montealegre, originally known as San Martín de Montes ruled by the Military Order of Hospitallers of Jerusalem, a jewel of Romanesque architecture declared since the 90s as Asset of Cultural Interest by the Junta de Castilla y León.
Returning to La Silva, we will find remains of the mining activity that existed in the area for many years. Witness them in the extraction well and the personnel entrance crossing of the San Juan Well.
Between oaks, white hawthorn trees and meadows, the path back to the town runs in whose La Llama Park is exposed the Foundational Milestone of San Martín de Montes with epigraphs that prove its origin. We finish the route having a picnic in the Santa Bárbara Park, while we admire its mine entrance and its mining machinery.