Protected landscape of San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel

  • Declared a site of national interest: 1920.
  • Declared protected nature area: 2007.
  • Protected landscape area: 9514 hectares.
  • Nearby towns and villages: Botaya, Bailo, Caldearenas, Jaca, Las Peñas de Riglos, Santa Cilia and Santa Cruz de la Serós.

The protected landscape of San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel is located in the province of Huesca, Aragón. The two elements that stand out the most are those to which its own name refers: the monastery of San Juan de la Peña and the Oroel rock .

In 1920 the place where the monastery is located was declared a Natural Site of National Interest, being one of the first to obtain this declaration in Spain. In Aragón it has been defined as a protected landscape since January 23, 2007 and it is also a SCI and ZEPA .

The Peña Oroel can be divided into two main formations: the Sierra de San Juan de la Peña, with a maximum altitude of 1550 meters above sea level, and Mount Oroel, which reaches 1770 meters. The conglomerates stand out, sedimentary rocks of the detrital type formed by bouldersand containing ridges and escarpments.

Find a hotel in the Protected landscape of San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel

Fauna and Flora

Vegetation varies according to the altitude as in the lower areas you can find gall oaks and holm oaks as well as a scrub forest made up mainly of boxwood, gorse and hedgehog broom. Higher up we find pines, beech, fir, yew and maple.

The two formations constitute a mid-mountain ecosystem. The forests are dense and there are conglomerate escarpments that serve as an excellent refuge for colonies of raptors. keep an eye out for the bearded vulture, egyptian vulture, golden eagle, griffon vulture and peregrine falcon.

Royal Monastery of San Juan de la Peña

The Royal Monastery of San Juan de la Peña located in Botaya, southwest of Jaca was the most important monastery in Aragón in the high Middle Ages. In its Royal Pantheon a good number of kings of Aragón are buried. It is also an important part of the Aragonese way of the Camino de Santiago.

Best viewpoints in the area of the Protected landscape of San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel

  • Balcón de los Pirineos.
  • Santa Teresa.
  • San Voto.
  • Peña Oroel.

Information Centers

Information about wildlife of the area can be found at the San Juan de la Peña Visitor Center next to the New Monastery of San Juan de la Peña (directions see below). This Centre includes excellent information about:

  • Protected Natural Areas of Aragon.
  • Geology of San Juan de la Peña.
  • Forest masses and associated flora and fauna.
  • History of Aragon.

Monastery of San Juan Interpretation Center

Built on the ruins of the “New Monastery” this center details the different aspects of San Juan de la Peña from its origins until the monks had to abandon the monastery in the 19th century.

Directions: Take the N-240 road Jaca to Pamplona and pass through the beautiful village of Santa Cruz de la Serós. A mountain road that starts from this village leads to the Old Monastery, and from there it is a further 1, 5 km more until the New Monastery and the Interpretation Centre.

Opening times

Autumn – winter: weekends and holidays, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Spring – summer: weekends and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The website is here

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Moncayo Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Zaragoza
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1978
  • Park surface area: 11,144 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Añón, Calcena,Litago, Lituénigo, Purujosa, San Martín de la Virgen de Moncayo, Talamantes, Tarazona and Trasmoz

Points of interest

The Moncayo Natural Park (once called the “Dehesa del Moncayo Natural Park”) is a protected natural area located in the province of Zaragoza on the border with the province of Soria. It occupies part of the regions of Aranda, Campo de Borja, Tarazona and Moncayo. Moncayo itself is a 15 km long and about 7 km wide mountain chain and the highest summit, San Miguel (2,314 m), is the highest point in the 500 km long sistema Ibérico. The Moncayo massif also includes two other peaks that are almost identical and are located close together. They are the Cerro San Juan (2,283 m) and Peña Lobera (2226 m).

The area has quite a few walking / hiking routes and one of the most famous starts from the village of San Martín de la Virgen de Moncayo and finishes at the village of Agramonte. (See information centres below)

Find a hotel in the Moncayo Natural Park


The lower slopes are mainly a covering of mixed scrubland and holm oak. and at higher altitude these are replaced by beech, juniper, willow, gorse and heather. There are also planted pine forest interspersed with native forest of scots and black pine. Peaks are mostly bare of trees and lower growing “alpine” shrubbery is well developed. (Especially heather and gorse).


The mixed scrubland and lush vegetation of the Moncayo area is the perfect habitat for birdlife. (Over 100 species). This is a lesser visited natural park of Spain and also hunting is very restricted thus creating a unique and biodiverse habitat. This park is where I have had the best sightings of Golden eagles! 🙂

Of the 228 species of butterflies known in Spain, 127 inhabit the Moncaya Natural park. May to August are the best months with most species on the wing during this time.

Mammals include wild boar, red deer, genet, mongoose, fox and wild cat though they are fairly secretive and can be hard to find.

Also in the area

Monastery of Veruela

El Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela (The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Veruela) is a Cistercian abbey dating from the 12th century. It is situated near Vera de Moncayo. It was founded in 1146 by Pedro de Atarés. More info in wikipedia.

The wine route

The Garnacha Wine Route includes the larger villages of Campo de Borja, Vera de Moncayo and El Buste but in total there are 20 villages linked by vineyards and The Museum and much more information can be found inside the Monastery of Veruela. This should be your starting point for the route around Moncayo vineyards.

In Tarrazona, the Cathedral ‘Santa María de Huerta’ stands out, a beautiful mosaic of architecture styles whose origins date back to 13th century. Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance fuse together in which is considered to be one of the mosy beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Spain.

Information/Visitors Centers

Tourist office in Tarrazona

Address: Plaza San Francisco, 1, Tarazona

The tourist office in Tarrazona should be number 1 on your visit list. The staff are friendly and very helpful. Excellent information about walking and hiking in the area.

Monday to Friday: 09.30 to 14.15 and 16.00 to19.00
Saturday: 10.00 to 14.00 and16.00 to19.00
Sunday: 10.00 to 14.00 and 16.00 to 18.00

Interpretation Center in Añon de Moncayo

Situated on the ground floor of the town hall building in the Plaza de España this centre has an excellent exhibition about the natural park and mans influence on the environment. There is also an audio visual projection showing many aspects of the MoncayoNatural Park.

The Aragón tourist information website is here.

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Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1990
  • Park surface area: 47,453 hectares
  • Villages and towns: Abiego, Adahuesca, Aínsa-Sobrarbe, Alquézar, Arguis, Bárcabo, Bierge, Boltaña, Caldearenas, Casbas de Huesca, Colungo, Huesca, Loporzano, Nueno and Sabiñánigo.

Points of interest

The Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park (in Aragonese Parque natural d’a Sierra y as Foces de Guara ) is a natural park in the province of Huesca and covers the regions of Alto Gállego, Hoya de Huesca, Sobrarbe and Somontano de Barbastro.

Thanks to its geology this area has become somewhat a Mecca for the practice of canyoning and climbing (In fact some would say that this is the area in Europe that first developed the sport of canyoning). The ravine of the Balcés river is more than 20 km in length and has cliffs as high as 800 m. The Grallera Alta de Guara chasm which has a vertical drop of 277 m.

The whole area is noteworthy for its spectacular scenery and wildlife.

The climate is a hybrid of Atlantic and Mediterranean due to its location between the Pyrenees and the Ebro Valley . This marks the differences between the vegetation of the south and that of the north.

There are four rivers that cross the mountains and these have created the characteristic canyons: they are the Alcanadre, Flumen, Guatizalema, Vero and Mascún.

Find a hotel in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

Village to village hiking in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

Hike between the remote villages of the Sierra de Guara natural park. The park has perfect hiking weather in the spring and autumn. Your bags are moved between hotels each day so you just hike with a daypack. 6 days hiking taking you to the heart of this undiscovered area. Wonderful scenery with deep canyons, rocky limestone spires and abandoned villages.

Find out more at Hike Pyrenees


One of the most notable characteristics of the vegetation in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park is the contrast between the north and south slopes. On the northern slopes gall oak occupies large areas, followed in height by the forests of scots pine and beech groves. At higher altitudes there are forests of black pine and spruce.

On the southern slopes the Mediterranean forest takes control with holm oak being the predominant tree along with scots pine at higher altitudes.

Around the natural park the scrubland is also one of the most important plant formations especially boxwood heathers and kermes oak.

In 2020 the “millenary holm oak” close to the town of Lecina in Huesca was elected “Tree of the Year in Spain”. Head for the town of Lecina. There is an easy marked footpath taking you to this emblematic tree.

The old oak tree of Lecina
In 2020, the millenary holm oak from the town of Lecina in Huesca was elected “Tree of the Year in Spain”.


The steep ravine walls in the area facilitate the nesting of numerous species of cliff dwelling birds such as the Griffon vulture that is easy to identify by its characteristic circling flight when ascending in thermal currents. Keep your eyes open too for Bearded vulture and Golden eagle.

Among the mammals are wild boar, fox, wild cat, dormouse and beech marten

The common brown trout frequents the river stretches anfd look out for Pyrenean newt in springs and ponds.

Also in the area

There are cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic in the Fuente del Trucho. In the cave with a 20 m mouth opening and a depth of 24 m there are several panels with more than 100 cave paintings on the walls and ceiling as well as rock carvings on the floor. You can distinguish horses, bears, cervids, goats, negative hands and trilobed signs painted in red and black with an age between 25,000 and 30,000 years.

(The Fuente del Trucho cave is located at an altitude of 640 m, close to the fountain of the same name near the confluence of the Trucho or Arpán ravine and the Vero river, between the municipalities of Colungo and Asque. Currently the cave is closed to the public but there is a partial replica of it in the Vero River Rock Art Center in Colungo.) SEE INFORMATION CENTERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR DETAILS.

Canyoning and climbing

One of the most popular sports activities in the Park is canyoning . The gorges of the main rivers, Vero, Mascún and Alcanadre attract numerous visitors making the area well known for this sport throughout Europe. Among the hundreds of ravines the most famous are:

  • Barranco del Vero.
  • Mascún ravine.
  • Barranco de la Peonera.
  • Gorgas Negras ravine.

Information/Visitors Centers

Hiking Trails.

You can download pdf documents for hiking trails in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park at this link. (They are in Spanish but contain good maps and images)

The natural park has several options for the interpretation of natural and cultural values and there are three interpretation centers that belong to the Aragón Natural Network. These centers provide interpretation and environmental education of the ecological diversity of the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park. They offer services such as the reception of visitors, basic information about the park, educational exhibitions and audiovisual projections. (ALL ARE WELL WORTH A VISIT)

Arguis Interpretation Center (Pascual Garrido Interpretation Center)

Location : The village of Arguis 23 kilometers from Huesca
Theme : The River Forest and the Fluvial Environment.

Audiovisual Projection, Interactive exhibition covering the subjects of Rock, ice, snow, canyons and cliffs

Information Office of Santa Cilia de Panzano

Location : In the town of Santa Cilia de Panzano, along the Aguas a Bierge road. 32 kilometers from Huesca.

Information on the natural values ​​(flora, fauna, geology, etc.) of the Guara summits. There is also a neighboring building with information on cliff dwelling birds (Casa del Buitre)

There is an interactive exhibition covering the subjects of the Mountains, Fauna and Flora and also Man and his relationship with the natural environment.

Interpretation Center of Bierge

Location: in the town of Bierge by the access road to the town of Rodellar, a few meters from the crossroads, the first detour to the left. 40 km from Huesca.

There is an excellent exhibition that is adapted to motor, visual and hearing disabilities and it focuses on the natural and cultural values ​​of the Natural Park.

An audio visual projection about the area and an interactive exhibition covering the subjects of the Karst Geology, Birds of prey, especially the bearded vulture, Flora of the Natural Park, Prehistoric and cave paintings and more recent cultural and traditional uses of the land.

Calendar and Hours (Subject to change)
Autumn – winter: weekends and holidays, from 10 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm
Spring – summer: weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Vero River Rock Art Center

The Cave Art Information Centre invites you to take a fascinating trip through the Prehistory of the River Vero, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The extensive educational resources allow you to discover the creative genius of human beings, their beliefs and lifestyles.

The centre has three exhibition areas, equipped with recreation facilities, models and audiovisual resources available in different languages.

  • Museum House (“Casa Museo”) provides general information about cave art, the cultures of the inhabitants of the River Vero, and the natural environment.
  • Archaeological Park (“Parque Arqueológico”) has several reproductions of Neolithic huts and burial constructions, such as dolmens and tumuli.
  • Fuente del Trucho Cave Space explores the mystery of life through the art of the only cave in Aragon with Paleolithic paintings.

Address: Las Braules, 222148 in the village of Colungo.

The tourism website of Hoya de Huesca is also an excellent source of information (Credit for the image at the top of this page)

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Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1994
  • Park surface area: 33,000 hectares
  • Local towns and Villages: Benasque, Gistaín, Montanuy, Sahún, San Juan de Plan

Points of interest

The Posets-Maladeta Natural Park is a protected natural area located in the north of the Ribagorza region and northeast of Sobrarbe in the province of Huesca. It encompasses two of the highest massifs in the Pyrenees. Heights range from 1,500 m in the valley to 3404 m at the summit of Aneto which is the highest peak in the Pyrenees. The moraines and mountain lakes of Vallibierna, Cregüeña, Batisielles, Millares and Remuñe are home to flora and fauna of the high mountain climate. Along with the Benasque valley there are other valleys within the natural park such as the Estós and Vallibierna.

In addition to Aneto there are also quite a few more high peaks in the area:

  • Pico Posets (3369 m)
  • Punta d’Astorg (3055 m)
  • Pico Maldito (3350 m)
  • Pico del Medio (3346 m)
  • Pico de Coronas (3,293 m)
  • Pico de Tempestades (3,290 m)
  • Pico del Alba (3,118 m)

Find a hotel in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park


Staggered according to altitude and other environmental conditions, at lower altitudes tree cover is mostly rowan, hazelnut and birch. On the more humid slopes, beech, pines and firs and at the highest levels scots pine gives way to black pine.

Read more about the flora of the Pyrenees on the excellent blog of Hike Pyrenees.


Marmots are faily easy to spot if you sit quietly and listen for their high pitched whistles. Wild boar and chamois are the easiest to observe mammals, but also keep an eye open for ptarmigan, Pyrenean newt, Asp viper, Griffon vulture, Bearded vulture and Golden eagle.

Read more about the fauna of the Pyrenees on the excellent blog of Hike Pyrenees.

Natural monument of the Pyrenean Glaciers

The natural monument of the Pyrenean Glaciers is a natural monument in the regions of Alto Gállego, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza in Aragón. The protected area is ​​3,190 hectares and is surrounded by a further 13,000 hectares of peripheral protection zone. Altitude ranges between 2,700 and 3,000 meters above sea level.

Declared as such the 21 of March of 1990 and includes the following peaks:

  • Massif of Balaitús (Sallent de Gállego).
  • Picos del Infierno (Panticosa and Sallent de Gállego).
  • Viñamala Peak (Torla-Ordesa).
  • La Munia (Bielsa).
  • Pico Posets (San Juan de Plan , Sahún and Benasque).
  • Pico Perdiguero (Benasque).
  • Pico Maladeta and Aneto (Benasque and Montanuy).
  • Monte Perdido (Bielsa and Fanlo).

In addition to the large volumes of ice, other unique glacier morphologies such as moraines , lakes and U-shaped valleys can be found. Some of these glaciers experienced an expansion during the small ice age but they are currently in the process of total disappearance. The extreme climate means that there are not many animal and plant species found in these glaciers.

The Cuenca Moral Botanical Trail

(A very easy trail indroducing you to some of the plants of the area.)

  • Duration: 25 min.
  • Slope: From 1,540 to 1,670 m.
  • Markings: Two parallel stripes of deep green and light green.
  • Difficulty: None.

Starting point: From Benasque (Benás) go up the main road to the Los Baños detour then follow the asphalt forest road. Once you have passed the Los Baños campsite and the bridge over the Ésera river, walk about 20 meters. and enter the meadow on the left following the signs.

End: The forest road from los Baños to the Hospital (Espital de Benás), 600 mts. before the bridge over the Ésera river.

The Posest-Maladeta Natural Park Botanical Trail runs along part of the old path that linked the Kingdom of Aragón with the south of France through the Bal de Benás (Benasque Valley), taking advantage of the diversity of its natural landscape. It starts next to the Camping de los Baños, the Pllano d’es Bañs o de Turpi, and ends on the forest road that connects the Baños with the Hospital de Benasque. It is representative of the Montane Floor of the Natural Park, with forests of yew, black pine, fir and beech.

The path winds through small pastures surrounded by box trees (Buxus sempervirens), Black pine, Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Wild dog rose (Rosa canina), wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) and Asphodel (Asphodelus albus). The path runs parallel to the Ésera river. Here there are rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) and abundant thickets of boxwood, holly, rododrendron (Rododendron ferrugineum), blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), heather (Calluna Vulgaris) , and flowers such as Lilium martagon and Primula veris

Guides in the area of Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

Walking holidays in the Pyrenees – Guided and self guided walking holidays with the Pyrenees specialists Hike Pyrenees

Based in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees surrounded by stunning scenery and superb hiking routes. A local company and They’ll show you fantastic hiking routes, traditional villages, the wonderful wildlife of the area and all about the local customs and culture.

Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding

The Aramón Cerler Ski Resort located in the Benasque Valley, is undoubtedly the ideal place to practice Alpine Skiing and Snow Boarding. It has 68 ski slopes, of which 9 are green, 17 blue, 26 red and 15 black, gathering a total of 79 skiable kilometers, which are accessed by 18 lifts. The minimum height of the station is located at 1,540 meters from the town of Cerler, and the maximum reaches 2,630 meters.

More information on the website here.

Information/Visitors Centers

Benasque Visitor Center (OBLIGATORY VISIT!)

Access: On the road from Benasque to Anciles. Taking the first road on the left. (Located less than 10 minutes from Benasque village.)

Benasque Visitor Center has an excellent interpretation exhibition detailing the four main environments that exist in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park. Rock, ice and snow. Grasslands and meadows. High mountain forests and the inhabited valleys. Excellent services and staff that will help you get the most out of a visit to the area. Staff will also help you with footpaths and the best places to visit depending on the time of year you are visiting.


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Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

  • Region: Castille Y leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • 1972 – Controlled hunting area (2,854 hectares).
  • 1986 – National Game Reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 1996 – Regional hunting reserve (32,549 hectares).
  • 2006 – Nature Reserve (32,541 hectares).
  • 1987 – ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) – 32,549 hectares.
  • 1989 – RAMSAR Wetland (Protection and international importance of the lagoon complex) – 2,854 hectares.
  • 1992 – SCI (Place of Community Interest) – 4,219 hectares

Villages in the area of Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

Cañizo, Cerecinos de Campos, Manganeses de la Lampreana, Revellinos, San Agustín del Pozo, San Martín de Valderaduey, Tapioles, Villafáfila (Includes the district of Otero de Sariegos, which is entirely inside the Natural Reserve), Villalba de la Lampreana, Villárdiga and Villarrín de Campos.

Hotels in the area of the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila

Points of interest

Depending on the season of the year, different birds can be observed But many people visit this area just for views of the Great bustard (Otis otis)


  • September is a month in which you can see large concentrations of mallard and an abundance of grey herons from the breeding colonies.
  • October is the time of passage for migratory birds such as common sandpipers and other waders.
  • November is the month with the highest concentration of cranes in the reserve and the arrival of the first common geese of the season also important flocks of common sandpipers.


  • In December, the common goose and the frieze duck abound, being in general a good month to observe rare ducks such as the white-faced goose and the grey-faced geese.
  • In January there are the highest concentrations of goose and European wigeon
  • In February the geese begin their journey to the Nordic countries. In their place the stork start to arrive from their southern wintering grounds.


  • March is the beginning of the arrival of the lesser kestrels, spooonbil and it is the time of spring passage for a large number of waders such as sandpipers and plovers etc. This is also the beginning of the mating season for bustards.
  • In April the bustard is still in breeding season and large concentrations of male combatants emerge in their full breeding plumage.
  • May is the breeding season of the lesser kestrels, especially the colony at the church of Otero de Sariegos. Storks and avocets are also in full breeding mode.


  • June is the month of the quail song in the Reserve, cattle egrets abound and the first flights of young storks.
  • The heat of July makes the aquatic fauna concentrate in the few remaining wetlands. This month also gives best observations of Montagu’s harrier. The first pre-migratory concentrations of stork are beginning to appear as well.
  • In August, the post-nuptial passage of sandpipers and other waders begins.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Lagunas de Villafáfila ‘El Palomar’

Ctra. Villalpando, Km. 1,5. 49136. Villafáfila. Zamora

  • On the N-630 road from Zamora towards Benavente. After the town of Granja de Moreruela, take a detour to the right onto the ZA-701 road, towards La Estación de la Tabla.
  • On the N-VI highway from Tordesillas towards Benavente leave the highway at Villalpando and at the exit of this town take a detour to the left towards Tapioles and Villafáfila.

This is an excellent information centre for the Lagunas de Villafáfila. There are audiovisual exhibitions, walkways, observation points etc and the place is staffed by very knowledgable guides. Well worth a visit!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays
10:30 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00

Entrance price is 2 euros for adults and 1.50 for children (Children under free)

Website (only in Spanish)

On this page you will find the bird species list for the Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila.

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria.
  • Province: Cantabria.
  • Declared a Natural Park:
  • Park surface area: 6,500 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park is an estuary in Cantabria, protected as a natural park. It is one of the wetlands of most ecological value in the north of Spain. It is used as a winter refuge and migratory passage by many species of birds.

The marshes are formed by the Asón River and the park occupies over 6,500 hectares distributed among the municipalities of Argoños, Bárcena de Cicero, Colindres, Escalante, Laredo, Limpias, Noja, Santoña and Voto.

The Asón estuary is also an important area for commercial fish breeding with sea ​​bass, red mullet, sea bream, sole and eel and atlantic salmon. This is also an important area for shellfish and the development of the canning industry for anchovies and sardines. Fish and fishing and defines the economic activity of this area.

Hotels in the area of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

Legal action against Spain from the EU about Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

In 1987 the Spanish Society of Ornithology (now SEO / BirdLife) and ARCA (the Association for the Defense of Natural Resources of Cantabria) presented a complaint to the Commission of the European Union citing the terrible situation and the danger suffered by the Santoña marshes such as desiccation of areas of the marsh, construction of the Santoña-Argoños section of the Ca-141 road, ilegal rubbish dumping and residual contaminated water from towns and villages in the area. All this of course a huge risk to both the annual stay of thousands of migratory birds and residential wildlife.

Spain declared the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel as a Natural Park in 1992. However, in 1993, the European Court condemned Spain for breach of its obligations to protect wildlife habitats under the EEC Treaty. This was the first ever environmental condemnation of the European court against Spain.

Spains basic defence was (and I quote) ” The Spanish Government takes the view that the ecological requirements laid down in that provision must be subordinate to other interests, such as social and economic interests, or must at the very least be balanced against them. ” The court rejected this argument completely.

The court ruling

Decision on costs: Under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the unsuccessful party is to be ordered to pay the costs. Since the Kingdom of Spain has failed in all essential respects, it must be ordered to pay the costs.

On those grounds,THE COURT

Declares that, by not classifying the Santoña marshes as a special protection area and by not taking appropriate steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats in that area, contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

Orders the Kingdom of Spain to pay the costs.

I have looked but can’t find how much Spain had to pay or evn if they did? Anyone?

You can read the entire very interesting legal document here. (actually it is very readable and not too full of confusing legal quotes.)


The birdlife in the area is undoubtedly the park’s greatest wealth. More than 130 different species can be observed and this is an important point for migrating or wintering grounds for many species of waterfowl. Waders such as Dunlin, Whimbrel, Grey plover, Bar-tailed godwit and gulls. Also European wigeon, Curlew, Common egrets, oystercatcher, sandpiper, Godwit, Redshank, Black – headed gulls and Red necked grebe. .

It is also an important migratory resting place for the common spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) which migrates from its breeding colonies in Holland flying over the coasts of France in order to reach the Santoña Marshes where they rest for a few days before continuing their journey to their wintering grounds in Africa. SEO/Birdlife estimates that a third of the European population of this species passes through Santoña every year

Two other species that are very rare wintering in the Iberian Peninsula, and that are frequent visitors to the Santoña marshes, are the Eider duck (Somateria mollissima), a large sea duck, and the Snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) that inhabits the mountains of northern Europe.

The most abundant mammals are found in the woodlands of holm oaks and meadows. More than thirty species have been detected such as wildcat, boar, roe deer, red deer, otter, fox, badger, weasel, rabbit etc

Information/Visitors Centers

The Visitor Center of the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park, is located on the ground floor of the “Mirador de las Marismas” a building located in the port of Santoña . The unique glass façade allows you to observe, from the inside, a wide panoramic view of the marsh landscape.

Inside there is also and excellent exhibition showing history, culture, wildlife etc of the area.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • November and December: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 01/11, 24/12 and 31/12

Noja Bird Mill. Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park

Address: Calle Helgueras, 39180 Noja

The Molino de las Aves de Noja is located in the old tidal mill of the Marisma Victoria inside the Natural Park of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel. Apart from its exceptional location for birdwatching on the marismas there are also cameras located in nest boxes and a feeder in order to observe the daily behavior birds and children are actively encouraged to get involved in observing wildlife.

There are also self-guided ornithological itineraries taking you through the four natural environments of Noja : the dunes, the marsh, the mountain and the countryside.

Open from June 21 to September 1
From 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 20.00 every day of the week.

Look out for signs for these top places for birdwatching.

  • Puerto pesquero, marisma de Bengoa and La Arenilla in Santoña.
  • Molino de Victoria in Noja
  • Paseo del Ribero Ancillo, Argoños Paseo marítimo y parque de Tinaco en Colindres.
  • El Playón de Cicero in Bárcena de Cicero.
  • Convento de Montehano Monte de Montehano in Escalante.

The official website for the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park (In Spanish but has a google translate plugin at the top right of the homepage.)

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

Wildlife and Nature of Spain. Natural and National parks in Spain. Find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Local guides are always the best!