Tag Archives: Aragón

Estepa de los Monegros National Park

  • Waiting for Declaration

Despite its apparent barren landscape this natural area (The future Estepa de los Monegros National Park) is of ​​high ecological value, home to a rich biodiversity and represents one of the best semi-desert areas in all of Europe.

The Sierra de Alcubierre mountain chain crosses the comarca from Northwest to Southeast. Its maximum elevation is 822 meters, at the mountain called Oscuro. The climate is semiarid with scarce rainfall and high temperatures in the autumn. The area has numerous saltwater and freshwater lakes, including the lake of Sariñena and the lake of Gallocanta.

The area’s cultural heritage includes several historical monasteries, including the Monasterio de Santa María de Sigena and the Charterhouse of Las Fuentes.

The proposed area for the future Estepa de los Monegros National Park covers the Aragonese regions of Los Monegros , the Ribera Baja del Ebro and the Central Region, in the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca, and has an area of ​​28,869 hectares distributed between the municipalities of Alfajarín and Villafranca de Ebro (Central Region), Pina de Ebro (Region of the Ribera Baja del Ebro), Monegrillo, Farlete and Perdiguera (Region of Los Monegros) in Zaragoza and Alcubierre, Lanaja (Los Monegros region) in Huesca.

The natural spaces that make up the Network of National Parks in Spain form a varied mosaic of ecosystems such as marshlands, lava fields, snowy peaks, marine reserves, forests, deserts and river canyons so it is important that the landscape and habitat of Los Monegros be added to this listof protected areas.

The advance of macro-farms and mega-projects of renewable energy add to the threats to this valuable natural space as was the plan some years ago to build a huge Las Vegas casino complex (Gran Scala) so the conservation organization SEO / BirdLife has sent to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) and the Government of Aragón a proposal to declare the Estepa de Los Monegros National Park.

If declared this would be the first protected natural space designated as a National Park with characteristics of a steppe ecosystem, both in Spain and in Europe, which would place Aragón as a benchmark for observation and study of these valuable ecosystems . The designated territory represents a dozen habitats of community interest, three of which are a priority at European level, and it is home to valuable biodiversity, among which several species of flora and fauna in danger of extinction are present.

See more protected areas in Arágon here at Wildside Holidays.

See the Comarca de los Monegros website (Spanish) here: http://www.turismolosmonegros.org

Pinares de Rodeno

Created in 1995, the protected landscape of the Pinares de Rodeno is located in the Sierra de Albarracín region in the province of Teruel, Aragon. Local villages in the area are Albarracín, Bezas and Gea de Albarracín.The area covers around ​​6,829 hectares and the altitude ranges between 1,095 meters above sea level in the Tobías ravine and 1,602 meters in the Cruz de Montoyo.

The soil of the pine forest is formed on a substrate of red sandstone, called rodeno. Among the forms that the atmospheric agents have shaped. It is worth highlighting the gorges dug by the water courses, the taffoni (hemispherical holes in the rock wall) or the pilancones (large circular depressions in the rock surface).

There is also an area in which limestone rock is predominant with a softer relief and higher, flatter areas. Here there are other species of pines and holm oaks.

The main species of pine that inhabits the area is the rodeno pine (Pinus pinaster) which is characterized by having a medium height and a rough reddish bark. They have traditionally been used to obtain resin. The rodeno pine is accompanied by characteristic species such as juniper, rockrose, heather, lavender, rosemary and thyme . In addition you can find other species of trees of the genus Quercus (Carrasqueño oak, rebollo and sessile oak).

In ravines and more humid areas there are species such as poplar, willow, hazel, hawthorn and holly.

In the limestone areas, the rodeno pine gives way to the black pine and the scots pine.

The animal species found in the pine forests are typical of the Mediterranean forest such as wild boars, roe deer, red deer, fox, stone marten, hares. and squirrels.

Among the birds, the pine forests are a refuge for wren, crossbill, little owl, tawny owl, various hawk species and booted eagle. In the oak forests you will find birds like blue tit, blackbird, robin and buntings. On the cliffs and crags look out for golden eagle, peregrine falcon, kestrel and eagle owl.

Find a hotel in the Pinares de Rodeno


Cave paintings

There are various caves among the pine forests with important examples of Levantine rock art, among which the Prado del Navazo, Doña Clotilde and the Cocinilla del Obispo stand out . The artwork represented consists of humans hunting or cooking and scenes of animals.

Information centres

Donarque Interpretation Center (Centro de Interpretación de Donarque)

Located between Bezas and Albarracín, 30 km from Teruel, 14 km from Albarracín and 3 km from Bezas.

The exhibitions in this interpretation centre cover the rich natural history ​​of the protected landscape of the Pinares de Rodeno, especially the geological values ​​and traditional forest uses. Inside the centre we can find…

  • Audiovisual Projections.
  • An Interactive exhibition.
  • Geology of the Sierra de Albarracín.
  • Protected Landscape Units (Rodeno, Loma Rasa and Sierra Carbonera).
  • Flora and fauna of the Sierra de Albarracín.
  • Caves, cave paintings and pre history
  • Obtaining resin.

Opening times

Autumn – winter: weekends and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3pm to 6pm.
Spring – summer: weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4pm to 8pm

Albarracín Cultural Park

The centre of the park is the town of Albarracín and the surroundings of this medieval villa stand out as a remarkable geological, paleontological and archaeological heritage. Albarracín, surrounded by a vast pine forest holds one of the biggest amounts of post-Palaeolithic prehistoric art in South West Europe. There are over 20 sites to visit in the area containing painting representations in Albarracín, Bezas and Tormón. There are also two large areas with engravings in Pozondón and Ródenas.

Bronze Age remains can be found in places such as Cueva de la Artesa, in the mining fields Loma de la Tejería and Tajada Bajera.

Celtiberian culture remains have been found in the town of Griegos.

From Roman times, parts of an aqueduct remains which once brought water from the Guadaliviar river down to the town of Cella.

The Middle Ages are represented by the beautiful and well preserved castles of both Albarracín and Peracense.

The Grazalema Guide

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The Lomaza de Belchite Wildlife Refuge

The Lomaza de Belchite Wildlife Refuge is located in the Campo de Belchite region in the southwest of the province of Zaragoza, Aragón. The refuge has an area of ​​961 hectares and was declared a protected natural area in1995.

This steppe territory is the result of a very ancient process of human deforestation and subsequent agricultural (mainly livestock) use.

The current wastelands and moorlands are fragile ecosystems and hold a habitat of specialized steppe flora and fauna.

The area has suffered an abandonment of traditional agricultural practices in recent years.

The Lomaza de Belchite Wildlife Refuge is recognised as a Zona de Especial Protección para las Aves (ZEPA) and is an important nesting area for steppe birds. The main species found here are Lesser kestrel, Stone curlew, Dupont’s lark, Pipit and Calandra lark

The flora is also adapted to the steppe environment with scarce arboreal and shrub vegetation resulting from the extreme weather conditions in the area.

There is very little rainfall, strong winds and sudden changes in temperature during both winter and summer.

Find a hotel close to The Lomaza de Belchite Wildlife Refuge


Access is on the A-222 road, with a parking area, explanatory panels and a signposted itinerary that starts from this point.

At the time of writing this article a permit is required in order to o be able to enter the refuge area (Ask in one of the information centres below)

Information Centres

There is a tourist office in the town of Belchite that should be able to help you with access to the area so it is reccommended to visit here first.

Address: Calle Becu, 2 Belchite

Interpretation Center of the steppes of the Ebro valley (Belchite)

This center is located in a superb building on the outskirts of Belchite next to the Ethnic Museum.

The center has a large room with the exhibition on display and another adjoining video room. In addition, it offers various interactive panels, with sounds and aromas of the steppe, models, audiovisual projections for groups which allows a first approach to these natural spaces before visiting the La Lomaza Wildlife Refuge and the El Planerón Ornithological Reserve.

The Interpretation Center is open to the public on weekends and holidays, from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00.

On other dates you can arrange a visit by calling 679 55 20 90 beforehand.

The website for the town of Belchite is here.

The Grazalema Guide

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The River Vero Cultural Park

The River Vero Cultural Park is a unique space known for its cultural and natural value. This is evident in its nature, landscape, history, art, tradition and dynamism of its inhabitants. It was created in 2001 and includes the towns and villages of Bárcabo, Colungo, Alquézar, Adahuesca, Santa María de Dulcis, Pozán de Vero, Azara, Castillazuelo and Barbastro.

Discover the villages and stunning scenery of Aragón. This is perfect territory for a road trip staying one or two nights in selected villages and towns of the Aragonese Pyrenese.

The area is situated in the centre of the Huesca province (Aragon) and centred around the River Vero, a tributary of the Cinca River. From the north to the south, this river connects the pre-Pyrenean mountainous areas with the gentle reliefs and Mediterranean landscape of the Somontano, a geographical location in the Ebro depression.

Hotels in the area


The northern zone of the park is integrated into the Natural Protected Space of the Sierra de Guara Natural Park. (Read more here).

The River Vero Cultural Park is a living territory. Landscapes dotted with small villages with marked personalities, next to the mouth of the River Vero and the city of Barbastro. The centres are diverse in the sense of size, location, and volume of and materials used in the constructions. The bell towers have a unique profile and are inseparable from the urban landscape.

The northern villages are adapted to the topography and were strategically positioned at a defensive level during the Middle Ages. This resulted in compact urban centres, with an organic growth outwards from the church, or the main fortress, if there was one.

In the central and southern areas the geographical conditions are more favourable, which permits the streets to be wider and straighter, with a less compact layout and more orderly growth.

More information on the official website of the The River Vero Cultural Park https://parqueculturalriovero.com/en/

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.


Reserva Natural de los Galachos de la Alfranca de Pastriz, La Cartuja y El Burgo de Ebro

A bit of a mouthful even by Spanish standards but the Reserva Natural de los Galachos de la Alfranca de Pastriz, La Cartuja y El Burgo de Ebro is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The nature reserve is located in the middle of the Ebro valley in the province of Zaragoza.

Also well worth a visit are the nearby villages of Alfajarín, El Burgo de Ebro, Fuentes de Ebro, Nuez de Ebro, Osera, Pastriz, La Puebla de Alfindén, La Cartuja Baja and of cource the city of Zaragoza.

Find a hotel in Zaragoza close to the Reserva Natural de los Galachos de la Alfranca de Pastriz, La Cartuja y El Burgo de Ebro.


A Galacho (Ox-bow lake in English – Resaca in the US and Billabong in Australia) forms when a river creates a meander, due to the river’s eroding bank. After a long period of time, the meander becomes very curved, and eventually the neck of the meander becomes narrower and the river cuts through the neck, cutting off the meander and forming an oxbow lake.

Since the 1960s, these areas of still water (Galachos) have been declining due to extraction for human resources such as irrigation and drinking water.

The typical vegetation of this ecosystem is mostly reed being the typical plant of the humid environment in addition to the presence of aquatic fauna and flora. Also providing an excellent habitat are poplars, tamarisk and willow.

The irrigation of the southern farmland of Zaragoza (Aragón), the artificial ponds of Saica and other artificially formed bodies of water, such as the Canal Imperial de Aragón and its pond create a large protected area for migratory groups of more than 1500 specimens of birds such as kites, crows, lapwing, rooks, seagulls, storks, vultures and starlings.

Information Centres

Interpretation Center of La Alfranca (Centro de interpretación de La Alfranca)

Location: Finca de la Alfranca, in the International Center for Water and the Environment (Centro Internacional del Agua y del Medio Ambiente CIAMA), 15 km from Zaragoza, 2 km from Pastriz and 3 km from La Puebla de Alfind.

This centre has guided visits to the Galacho de la Alfranca

There are also excellent audiovisual projections, exhibitions and models. Indepth iformation can be found about the riparian ecosystems, fauna and vegetation of the reserve river forests and the fluvial dynamics of the river Ebro.

Opening times

Autumn-Winter: Weekends and holidays from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Spring-Summer: Weekends and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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.


Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena

The Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena (in Aragonese Refuchio de Fauna Silvestre d’a Lacuna de Sarinyena ) is a wildlife refuge located in Los Monegros in the south of the province of Huesca. The refuge, which has an area of ​​604 hectares was declared as a protected natural area for the first time on April 4 1995. It is located within the municipality of Sariñena between the basins of the Alcanadre and Flumen rivers. In 2001, the natural space was also declared a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) together with the other nearby lagoon of the Balsa de la Estación.

The Sariñena lagoon is endorheic meaning that its waters have a very high concentration of salts.

Intensive farming and using the lagoon water for irrigation during the 1970s caused the water level to drop dramatically and this in turn changed the saline concentration and the lagoon was in danger of drying up completely. However, a group of researchers and several naturalists proposed the construction of a drainage channel around the lagoon that would guarantee a similar level of water throughout the year. As a consequence of this successful campaign and work completed there is now a ring of reed surrounding the lagoon and numerous species of birds summer or winter in the environs.

This is one of the most important areas for birdlife in Aragón and serves as a shelter for numerous species of aquatic birds. It is considered to be the second most important wetland in Aragon, after the Gallocanta lagoon, and almost 12,000 birds spend the winter on its shores.

Find a hotel close to the Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena


Some birds seen at the Refugio de Fauna Silvestre de la Laguna de Sariñena. (In no particular order).

European bee-eater, Hoopoe, Golden eagle, Marsh harrier, Stone curlew , Common shrike , Mallard, Sandpiper, Bittern, Avocet, Long-eared Owl, Griffon Vulture, Buzzard, Purple Swamphen, Great Tit, Kestrel, White Stork, Quail, Black wheatear, Crow, Cuckoo, Raven, Little egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Swallow , Spanish Sparrow, House Sparrow, , Tree Sparrow, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Yellow wagtail, Barn Owl, Black Kite, Blackbird, Little Owl, Golden oriole, Wood pigeon, Linnet, Shoveler duck, Red legged partridge Nightingale, Great crested grebe, Turtledove, Swift, Greenfinch.

Tourism, Ornithology and Nature Fair – AVENATUR

This biannual Fair (normally taking place in November) has been created by the Sariñena City Council to promote the conservation of the natural environment both locally and globally and also to promote ornithological tourism in Aragón.

Avenatur website: www.avenatur.com (In Spanish)

Information Centres

There is an excellent interpretation centre in the town of Sariñena and I recommend you visit there before you visit the lagoon itself. The staff are very knowledgable and will tell you all you need to know to get the best out of a visit. (Unfortunately its only open on weekends). Inside the centre you will find:

  • Audiovisual exhibitions.
  • Recreation area with botanical garden.
  • Bird Observatory at the foot of the Lagoon.

Interpretation Center hours: Open weekends and holidays
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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