The story of the iron slide
Get on Larreineta funicular railway for an original family adventure in the open air, a glimpse of Bizkaia’s industrial past and spectacular panoramic views of Gran Bilbao. Are you joining us?
Larreineta funicular railway runs from La Escontrilla Station in Trapagaran to the old mining area of La Arboleda, covering 1198 metres in 15 minutes. Uphill, the views are amazing: Abra Bay, mountain slopes and the traces of mining activity.
The ‘slide’ was built in 1926, opening on 24 September. It carried the mineworkers and the iron ore from the mines in La Arboleda to the manufacturing plants. The original design, which has come down to us, was a horizontal platform on two iron rails for more effective freight transport. Today, Larreineta is the only funicular railway in Europe standing on a horizontal platform.
Bizkaia family friendly
Plans for the whole family
Originally, Larreineta was used to carry both the mineworkers and the iron ore. Today, it is the inevitable means of transport used by local residents and a top attraction in its own right. It ends at the entrance to La Arboleda, the old mining area, now an outdoor recreational area.
After getting off at Larreineta and enjoying the spectacular panoramic views, a shuttle bus will take you to La Arboleda. La Arboleda is the old mining village where iron was extracted to be taken to the blast furnaces in Sestao. Today, the area is an outdoor recreational area where you can go hiking, fishing, mountain biking, mountain climbing or horse riding.
The old mining village is nestled in the Triano Mountains. For more information about Bizkaia's industry in the old days, you can get to the Peñas Negras Visitor Centre, 500 metres from La Arboleda. It is a nice walk to enjoy the natural surroundings. The former mines, which were shut down 25 years ago, gave way to lovely reservoirs set in green areas and home to trout and carp. You can go fishing in the lakes. Also, you will find picnic areas nearby.
The Basque Mining Museum lies in Gallarta, only 5.5 kilometres away from La Arboleda. After your tour of the museum, an expert guide will take you around for a first-hand experience of Bizkaia's industrial past.
In La Arboleda you should visit the Basque Country Mining Museum, the reservoirs and the old mining sites
Skirt El Ostión and Los Cármenes, two lovely reservoirs, and take a look at the Concha II mining site, also known as Corta de Bodovalle. It has been an Asset of Cultural Interest since 2011.
Once the largest iron ore mine in Europe, it is 700 metres long and 350 metres wide. Inside there is Bizkaia's greatest depth in an open-pit mine, at 37 metres below sea level. Women worked hard in the mines here. They manufactured as many as 1200 dynamite cartridges a day, waist-deep in water. Theirs was a physically strenuous job.
Now head for the town centre of La Arboleda. The former mining facilities were converted to houses and grillrooms, changing the appareance of the village. The authorities have kept a mineworker's home, though, to show the appalling living conditions these men and women had to endure. One of the barracks has also been kept, for visitors to understand how mineworkers and their families were exposed to hunger, exploitation and disease, a situation that was the breeding ground of the workers' movement. The Republican heroine Dolores Ibárruri, known as La Pasionaria, was born to a Basque miner here, in Gallarta.
How To Get There
La Arboleda can be easily reached from Trapagaran, 13km from Bilbao, either by car or by public transport.
Renfe’s commuter train C2 stops at Urioste Station, a 20 minutes’ walk from La Escontrilla.
There are two Bizkaibus lines with stops near the funicular railway station: A-3141 (Cruces-Bagatza-Funicular de Trapagaran) and A-3332 (Trapagaran-Santurtzi).
If you are coming from Bilbao, drive along highway A-8 in the direction of Santander and take exit 127B. Then take the exit at the first roundabout and drive onto roads BI-3739 and BI-3755. The Funicular Street will bring you to La Escontrilla Station, where you can get on the funicular railway.
Where to eat
The most traditional dish from La Arboleda is bean stew. There are several traditional restaurants near the funicular railway station where you can try this hearty dish – the perfect reward in winter. The beans from La Arboleda are made in heaven. They are even tastier when they are served con todos los sacramentos, that is, with chorizo, black pudding or pork ribs.