Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve

Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve

  • Region: Castilla y León (León)
  • Declared a biosphere reserve: 2006
  • Protected area: Almost 57,000 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Candín, Peranzanes, Vega de Espinareda, Villafranca del Bierz, Balouta, Burbia, La Bustarga, Campo del Agua, Cariseda, Cela, Chano, Espinareda de Ancares, El Espino, Faro, Fresnedelo, Guímara, Landoiro, Lumeras, Moreda, Paradaseca, Paradiña, Penoselo, Pereda de Ancares, Pobladura de Somoza, Porcarizas, Prado de Paradiñas, Puente de Rey, San Martín de Moreda, San Pedro de Olleros, Sésamo, Sorbeira, Suárbol, Suertes, Tejedo de Ancares, Tejeira, Trascastro, Valle de Finolledo, Valtuille de Abajo, Valtuille de Arriba, Vega de Espinareda, Veguellina, Vilela, Villarbón, Villar de Acero, Villar de Otero, Villasumil.

Points of interest

Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve is located on the western limit of the Cantabrian mountains, on the border with Galicia and Asturias and includes the valleys of the rivers Cúa (Valle de Fornela), Ancares (Valle de Ancares) and Burbia. It borders with Los Ancares Lucenses y Montes de Cervantes, Navia y Becerrea biosphere reserve in the neighbouring province of Galicia (lugo).

This is a natural landscape of mountains sculpted by glacial and fluvial morphology with extensive heaths, chestnut groves and woodlands of oak, holly, yew and strawberry tree. traditional livestock farming coexist with iconic wildlife such as Iberian wolf, Cantabrian brown bear, chamois, roe deer, mountain goat, eagles, vultures and capercaille.

The chestnut (el castaño) is the symbol of the Ancares and has a natural, economic and cultural influence on the ecological habitats creating a refuge and feeding many wild species as well as providing work and income to many families in the area.

Other areas within the limits of this biosphere:

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Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve is impressive not only for its ecological value, but also for the traditional culture that survives in its towns, villages, landscapes and lifestyles. With a history that gives the surroundings a special character, it is also home to places as diverse as Peña Piñera archaeological site, with its bronze age rock paintings; Chano Iron Age hill fort settlement; La Leitosa Roman gold mine; and traditional architecture featuring raised granaries and pallozas (circular houses with thatched roofs where people and animals both lived) that can be visited in towns such as Balouta, Campo del Agua and Pereda de Ancares.

Information and visitor centres

There are various tourist information centres in the area but the four main places to visit to get the best out of a visit to Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve are :

  • The Interpretation centre in the village of Castro de Chano (Valle de Fornela).
  • The tourist office in Vega de Espinar.
  • The town of Villafranca del Bierzo has information points and monuments open to the public
  • The tourist office run by the town hall in Candín (Valle de Ancares).

The official website for Los Ancares Leoneses biosphere reserve: http://www.ancaresleoneses.es/

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