- Region: Andalucia
- Province: Jaén
- Declared a Natural Park: 1989
- Park surface area: 19,961 hectares
Points of interest
There are three peaks over 2000m within the Sierra Mágina park. The highest is Mágina which stands at 2,165m and dominates the limestone terrain. This area is part of the Cordillera Subbetica range and along with other mountains in the area has a selection of highly specialized plants that are endemic to the park.
The exposed rocky peaks, vertical cliffs, shaded woodland, river banks and extensive Olive and Almond groves each offer a different habitat.
The “Pinar de Cánavas” is a natural monument south of the village of Jimena. It is a small woodland of exceptionally large, centennial Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis).
The sierra Magina contains many limestone caves, several of which are open to visitors. Neolithic cave paintings and Paleolithic tools date back to the 4th and 3rd century BC. (Ask about them in your hotel or one of the information centres.)
Find a hotel in the Sierra de Mágina
Shrub cover on the steep slopes consists of Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Small-flowered gorse (Ulex parviflorus), Turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus) and Spanish barberry (Berberis hispanica). The higher areas have woods of Corsican pines (Pinus nigra subsp laricio), Yew trees (Taxus baccata) and compact shrubs such as Hedgehog broom (Erinacea anthyllis) and low growing Juniper (Juniperus communis subsp. hemisphaerica), that can withstand the harsh elements.
Also found at this high level are endemic plants to the park Jurinea fontqueri, Vicia glauca subsp. giennensis, Lithodora nitida and helianthemum marifolium subsp. Frigidulum. They are all on the endangered plants list.
The Cazorla violet (viola cazorlensis) which can be found here also grows in Sierra Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas and the Sierra Castril.
The lower slopes have Holms oak (Quercus rotundifolia) and Cork oak (Q. suber) Wild cherry (Prunus avium), Juniper, Rosemary and Montpellier Maple with Gall oak (Q. faginea) trees in the humid parts. Pinus species have also been planted over large areas.
Over the centuries native woodland on the lower slopes has been cut down to make way for the cultivation of olive, cherry, fig and almond trees.
The mammal most noticeable in the park is the Spanish ibex with Wild boar, Fox, Genet, Wild cat and Stone marten all being secretive creatures.
The Sierra Mágina also has a wide variety of bat species.
Raptors such as Bonelli’s, Short-toed, Golden eagles and Griffon vulture share the high cliffs with Ring ouzels, Red-billed chough, Peregrine falcon, and Kestrel. Among the smaller birds are Northern wheatears, Blue rock thrush, Alpine swift, Crested tit and Bee-eater. Nocturnal birds are Barn, Eagle and Tawny owls. The Golden orioles prefer tall trees along the river banks with Dippers on rocks in the water.
Reptiles of the open scrubland are Ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris), Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), Ocellated lizards (Lacerta lepida) and Algerian sand lizard (Psammodromus algirus).
Amphibians include Iberian marsh frog (Rana perezi) Southern midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni) and Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita).
While fish species are represented by Rainbow trout and Barbel with three Iberian endemics Leuciscus pyrenaicus, Cobitis paludica and Iberocypris palaciosi. (The latter two are on the endangered species list).
Also in the area
- Fortified walls, towers and castles in the area date back to when this mountain range was the border between Muslim Granada and Christian Castilla. Albánchez de Mágina village has a castle, Bélmez has a tower and Jimena and Cambil retains their walls.
- The Moorish hill top fortress in Jódar is the best preserved in Jaen province.
The main information point for the Sierra de Mágina is in the Castillo de Jódar (The visitor centre is easy to find on arrival in the village of Jódar because it stands inside the castle which overlooks the village and which is visible from almost everywhere.)
The Sierra Mágina’s cultural wealth owes much to its historical role as a frontier area. The legacy of the different civilizations which have settled in the area can be seen in its traditions, its popular architecture and in the numerous fortresses which recall periods of conflict. One particularly outstanding example is the Castillo de Jódar, a castle thought possibly to date back to pre-Roman times and which now houses the Park’s visitor centre.
The exhibition inside presents the key facts which will enable visitors to identify the features which make up the varied landscape found in Sierra Mágina, an area in which it is possible to move from the highest mountain peaks to wetlands full of leafy vegetation or fertile farmland dominated by olive plantations within just a few kilometres. This scenic diversity supports a wide variety of animal and plant life, and this too is included in the exhibition. The facility also offers information about the activities that can be pursued in this nature area.
The castle’s strategic location ensures excellent views of Sierra Mágina, the Sierras de Cazorla and El Pozo, the Guadalquivir valley and the monumental towns of Úbeda and Baeza.
Visitor Centre Mata Bejid
(Address: Ctra. P.K. 15,6. A-324. Cambil (JAÉN)
The visitor centre allows individuals to have an initial look at Sierra Mágina Natural Park; the centre gives us first-hand information about the most interesting places in addition to providing us with informative material that will be of use to us over the course of our visit.
Caves (Ask in one of the information centres or your hotel if any are open to the public)
Cuevas del Aire -Bedmar village, have stalactites and various caverns. You need equipment to visit the caves as the entrance is set high up in a vertical wall. Look out for the Moorish 3m-high wall; the cave entrance is to the right of this.
Cueva de los Esqueletos – Albánchez de Mágina has remains dating from the Paleolithic period. It is named after the skeletons (esqueletos) found in the cave, in a sitting position in a semi circle, together with knives and arrows.
Cuevas del Gato are in the mountainous region south of Bélmez de la Moraleda and have some interesting geological formations. These are for experienced cavers only.
Cueva de la Granja – Jimena has interesting Neolithic cave paintings in red hues, which indicate that there was human settlement here from the 4th to the 3rd centuries BC. It was declared a historic monument in 1924.
Cuevas de Majuelos y Aro in Pegalajar have some impressive stalagmites, stalactites and columns. Archaeologists have found stone axes, flint knives, arrowheads and human remains here dating from the 3rd century BC. They are less than 1km northeast of Pegalajar on the JV3241 to Mancha Real.
Wildside Holidays – Spain
The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!