- Region: Valencian Community
- Province: Castellón
- Declared a Natural Park: 1998
- Park surface area: 31,180 hectares
- Towns and villages: Aín, Alcudia de Veo, Algimia de Almonacid, Alfondeguilla, Almedijar, Artana, Ayódar, Azuébar, Chóvar, Eslida, Fuentes de Ayódar, Higueras, Matet, Pavías, Tales, Torralba del Pinar, Sueras, Vall de Almonacid, Villamalur
Points of interest
The Sierra de Espadán Natural Park mountain range is located between the regions of Alto Palancia , Alto Mijares and Plana Baja and is home to one of the very few sandstone outcrops in this part of Spain. With an abrupt and broken relief made up of peaks and ridges accompanied by deep ravines and valleys this is the second largest protected area in the Valencian Community.
The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.
Located here is a large woodland made up of cork oak trees (Quercus suber). Due to the higher rate of rainfall in the mountains combined with the existence of sandstone soils this allows them to flourish and of course for generations they have been harvested for the bark. (See the exhibition on cork in the interpretation centre in the village of Eslida)
The towns and villages in the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park have a great historical and cultural wealth and a visit to the various towns that still maintain their medieval structures such as Veo , Aín or Almedíjar are well worth it. In some towns such as Castro, Espadán and Alcudia de Veo you will find the “refrigerators” (neveras) which are stone buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries to store snow throughout the year.
There are many well signposted hiking routes and the area of the Benitandús Reservoir is popular due to the Órganos de Benitandús (imposing rock formations reminiscent of the shape of a church pipe organ)
Find a hotel close to the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park
Apart from the aforementioned Cork forest, holm oaks (Quercus ilex) appear in small numbers from around 700m with the pine trees. There are also some oaks on higher, poorer ground, where they are of small dimension, dwarfed by the conditions. The undergrowth is typical for the Mediterranean region, Kermes oak, (Quercus coccifera), Prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), Lentiscus (Pistacia lentiscus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus lycioides) and Gorse (Genista longipes). In more open areas these are accompanied by Rosemary, Thyme, Rockroses and clump forming Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima).
The exposed high grounds of poor nutrients and stony soil are inhabited by well adapted low growing, thorny plants, Phoenician juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) and Hedgehog broom (Erinacea anthyllis) are among them. Another specialist plant, Sarcocapnos crassifolia grows in cracks in soft limestone cliffs.
The stream banks are where you will find Elm (Ulmus minor), Black poplar (Populus nigra), Mediterranean willow (Salix pedicellata) and Mediterranean honeysuckle (Lonicera implexa). Damp areas such as springs are home to ferns like Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).
Mammals include Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Hare (Lepus capensis) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Genet (Genetta genetta) plus the extremely elusive Wild cat (Felix sylvestris).
Look out for Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Booted eagle (Aquila pennata), Short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) with the Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) more often only heard.
Amongst the reptiles and amphibians are Iberian water frog (Rana perezi), Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita), Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra), Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai), Viperine Snake (Natrix maura), Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei) and Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).
There are 14 bat species recorded in the park including Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), Savi’s Pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii), Nathusius’ pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii), Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginata), Long-fingered Bat (Myotis capaccinii) and Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). The last two are on the endangered list.
Les Coves de Sant Josep
This is a series of underground caves located in the municipality of La Vall de Uxó on the Costa de Azahar, near the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park. These caves are known for their stunning rock formations, as well as their archaeological significance, as they contain evidence of human habitation from prehistoric times.
Les Coves de Sant Josep is known to be the longest navigable subterranean river in Europe. The underground river runs for over 7 kilometers and is one of the main attractions of the caves. Visitors can take boat rides along the river to explore the caves and see their unique geological formations.
Book a trip with Get Your Guide
It is a popular tourist destination for those interested in visiting a unique geological and archaeological site. Visits are usually guided and can involve some physical activity such as walking, climbing stairs, and crawling through narrow passages.
Also don’t forget to visit
- Museo de La Vall de Uxó: A local museum showcasing the history and culture of the area.
- La Plana: A large plain that serves as an important agricultural area and is surrounded by mountains.
- Peñagolosa: A mountainous peak that offers panoramic views of the region.
- Castillo de Xivert: A medieval castle located near the coast that offers views of the Mediterranean sea.
Centro de Interpretación del Parque Natural de la Sierra de Espadán
The Interpretation Center and management offices of the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park are located in the building of the old schools of Eslida (antiguas escuelas de Eslida). Avda. Francisco Mondragón, 2, 12528 Eslida (Castellón).
There is plenty of information on the flora, fauna and human activities in the area plus hiking routes and the best places to visit.
The official website for the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park is here: https://parquesnaturales.gva.es/es/web/pn-serra-d-espada
The Caminito del Rey
Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/
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