The Rio Tinto (Iberus, Urium, or Luxia as it was called by the different villagers which populated its banks throughout history) has been famous since Phoenician times due to the mineral wealth of the area. It is closely linked to the people and village of Berrocal. An important part of its course runs through Berrocal´s district. It is practically the only point from which you can easily access the village before reaching the plains of the countryside, and moreover it is certainly the most spectacular sight.
Its interests come from the particular colour of its waters, an intense red reminiscent of red wine. But red isn't the only colour of the river. The river bed also develops a great variety of colours and its margins are due to the precipitation of the minerals which it contains. Not in vain, the mineral mass is born from the famous Riotinto mine. Some mines have been exploited for 5,000 years, going back to the age of metals, and have given the region its own personality coming from the many megalithic remains, the Tartars, the Roman to British legacy, the railroad, the Corta Atalaya or the English neighborhood of Bellavista.
There isn't a river in the world with characteristics like the Tinto. For many years it was thought that the metals in its waters and the high level of acidity made life impossible. However, intense research completed over the river and its subsoil in the last years has determined that it, in fact, contains a great variety of organisms which can adapt to an environment considered uninhabitable. During the past years the National Centre of Astrobiology and NASA have worked together to discover the operations of life in the river and the possibility that it develops on its subsoil in a sort of underground bio-reactor. The importance of these projects lies in great part due to the similarities in the surrounding conditions of life in the river's ecosystem with the surface and subsurface on planet Mars. The development of equipment and experiments from the river will be included in NASA’s next missions. In addition, recent experiments have demonstrated the capacity of survival of some of the river's organisms in similar conditions to Mars.
The Rio Tinto and its banks, including all of the municipal district of Berrocal, have been declared protected landscape and they will become part of the European Geoparks' network. From Berrocal, the river is easily accessible from the road and its can be seen almost in whole in a comfortable manner. The historical mining railroad of the Rio Tinto accompanies the majority of the river, which gives interest to its routes and allows visitors to enjoy the landscapes through a comfortable journey. Through the antique route passengers can pass through the railroad’s bridges, tunnels and stations (the majority still preserved) meanwhile enjoying the forests and mountains which surround it.