Walking and wildlife holidays in Castilla y Leon
- Capital: Valladolid
- Area: 94,223 km²
- Provinces 9: León, Palencia, Burgos, Zamora, Valladolid, Soria, Salamanca, Ávila, Segovia
Castilla y Leon were two separate regions which joined in 1983, combined they make the largest region in Spain. Its historical value can be seen everywhere with Roman structures, Gothic cathedrals and more medieval castles than elsewhere in Europe.
The magnificent Roman aqueduct running through Segovia is one of the region’s greatest architectural wonders. It’s one of the best preserved aqueducts in the world, vast carved stones form the foundations, built 2,000 years ago. It was still supplying the City with water until recent years.
Going back further there are the archaeological deposits of Atapuerca, near the city of Burgos, where fossils of the one of the earliest known hominids in Europe have been found. Fossils and stone tools discovered date to between 780,000 and 1 million years ago.
Las Casas del Parque y los Centros Temáticos
Across Castilla y Leon you will find what are called the “Park Houses”. Las Casas del Parque are the information centres, museums and building of interest within the Natural Parks and other protected areas.
They are always worth a visit and in many cases should be your first stop off in order to get the best out of a visit to the area you are exploring.
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As well as this wealth of history Castilla y Leon holds some stunning and dramatic scenery.
The area is surrounded by mountains. In the north is the Cordillera Cantabria and to the south the Sistema Central range and at the north east lies the Sistema Iberico range. This creates a loop of mountains opening towards Portugal. This is on top of the fact that it is situated on the vast high plateau which forms the centre of the Iberian peninsular.
The most important river of the area is the Duero which begins in Soria and crosses westward to Portugal and empties into the the Atlantic ocean.
1 Lago de Sanabria The stunning Lago de Sanabria Natural Park has been extended into the Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto.
2 National Park of the Picos de Europa The Montaña de Covadonga National Park ( now The Picos de Europa National Park) was established in Asturias in 1918, the first national park in Spain. The now much larger park covers three major massifs – Western, Central and Eastern which are all part of the Cordillera Cantabria range. The dramatic Cares river canyon, which is 1,500m deep, divides the western and central parts.
3 Montaña Palentina Natural park This is a space of great natural, landscape, fauna and botanical value. It has the most northern mass of junipers in Europe and is a refuge for the emblematic and endangered brown bear
4 Cañon del Rio Lobos One of the most visited areas of the Natural Park is the Templar hermitage of San Bartolomé, a Romanesque construction from the first quarter of the 13th century with some Gothic influence. It was part of a monastery of which only the chapel remains.
5 Hoces del Rio Riaza This stunning area has been created by the Riaza river which has excavated the limestone of the Segovian plains to create one of the largest areas of gorges, canyons, cliffs and ravines in Spain.
6 Hoces del Rio Duraton The relatively small Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park is a jewel in the countryside in the province of Segovia. Its name refers to a 27 kilometre stretch of the Duratón River and “Las Hoces” refers to the series of gorges, some up to 100 metres high, that have been formed by the river..
7 Sierra de Gredos Regional Park The numerous Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) roaming here are an isolated subspecies of Spanish ibex the latter can be found in many mountainous regions throughout Spain.
8 Las Batuecas y Francia Natural Park The whole area has a great scenic and ecological value with abundant fauna and flora along with a great cultural wealth and an important historical-artistic heritage. There are five municipalities in the area declared “Historic-Artistic Complex” due to the wealth of cave paintings, remains of Roman mines, hermitages and monasteries that are scattered throughout area.
9 Arribes del Duero Natural Park The steep gorges of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park are formed by the river Duero which is also the national boundary between Spain and Portugal.
Other protected areas
- Reserva Natural Lagunas de Villafáfila (Famous for Great Bustard and Cranes.)
- Garagüeta in Soria – Europe’s largest Holly Wood The Garagüeta reserve is located in the Sierra de Montes Claros close to the village of Arévalo de la Sierra in the province of Soria (Castilla y Leon.) It is the most extensive holly wood in Europe and covers around 500 hectares.
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