Tag Archives: Murcia

Sierra de la Pila Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1992
  • Park surface area: 8,836 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Molina de Segura, Abarán y Blanca, Fortuna, Jumilla, La Garapacha, Fuente Blance, Hoya Hermosa, Peña de Zafra, and Las Casicas

Points of interest

The relatively small Sierra de la Pila Regional Park is located in the northeastern region of Murcia. Its steep reliefs are part of the limestone, dolomite and gypsum mountain ranges made up of medium-altitude massif. The park is divided into two halves separated by the Barranco del Mulo: The western part where the Caramucel summit is located at 1023 meters of altitude and the eastern part with peaks such as La Pila (1264 meters) and Los Cenajos (1200 meters ).

Like almost all the Regional Parks in Murcia, this area is included in the Natura 2000 Network and is a Site of Community Interest (SCI). A large part of the park is also a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

Raptors are well represented here and include Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).

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The area has a good amount of juniper groves, pine and holm oak woodland as well as much vegetation typical of the Spanish southeast such as palm hearts, strawberry trees, black hawthorn and lentiscus. As in the Sierra Espuña, snow was also produced here and near the summits of Cenajos there are the ruins of two snow wells.

There is also a large network of forest tracks that are great for discovering the scenery and wildlife of the area. (more than 50 kilometers).

Information/Visitors Centers

The information point “Fuente la Higuera” has been closed for sometime so the best place to head for is the visitor centre in El Valle. Here you can get plenty of information about the natural parks of Murcia

El Valle Visitor Center

Carretera El Valle, 61, La Alberca

From Murcia take the A-30 towards Cartagena, turn off towards La Alberca, exit 148 and follow the signposts marked “El Valle


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Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) in Murcia

Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) in Murcia are relatively small areas that for their ecological, habitat or other special reason such as the presence of specific types of wildlife are give some level of protection. Sometimes, but not always, thay fall within the limits of a natural or regional park area. This is normally due to the expansion of the natural park territory. Very often they are located in areas where human actions has either damaged in the past or continues to damage the ecosystem creating a need for an environmental protection plan.

Barrancos de Gebas

The Gebas ravines are one of the most spectacular landscapes located inside the limits the Sierra Espuña Regional Park and distributed between the municipalities of Alhama de Murcia and Librilla. It is a desert-type space, like a lunar landscape or badlands, which is formed by gullies, canyons and ravines. The area covers almost 2000 hectares.

From Alhama de Murcia head toward the tiny village of Gebas and look out for the signs directing you to the “Mirador de Gebas“, This viewpoint offers fantastic views over the badlands.

This video is excellent and the music is too! 🙂

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Cuatro Calas

The Cuatro Calas protected landscape is located in the municipality of Águilas, next to the provincial border with Almería. It is a small coastal strip of just over 2oo hectares, in which small reliefs dominated by esparto grass are combined with ravines and sandy coves and cliffs. A natural space of great geological interest and high environmental value in which the absence of frost allows unique species in Europe to thrive such as African Wolfbane (Periploca angustifolia) and Jujube (Ziziphus lotus). The salt marsh at the mouth of a ravine is dominated by Arthrocnemum glaucum, Limonium sp., Salsola verticillata and Halocnemum strobilaceum.

Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) - Cuatro Calas
Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) – Cuatro Calas

Among its fauna, the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) is present in good numbers. There are also wetland birds such as stork, steppe birds such as black wheatear and coastal birds such as little tern.

The salt marsh at the mouth of a ravine, dominated by Arthrocnemum glaucum, Limonium sp., Salsola verticillata, etc and Halocnemum strobilaceum.


Espacios abiertos e islas del Mar Menor

The open spaces and islands of the Mar Menor are a series of protected areas located in the Mar Menor and belong to the Natura 2000 Network and are also a Site of Community Importance (SCI). They extend through the three coastal municipalities of Cartagena (1038.5 ha), San Javier (119.6 ha) and Los Alcázares (28 ha).

Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) - Espacios abiertos e islas del Mar Menor
Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) – Espacios abiertos e islas del Mar Menor

This protected natural area includes the wetlands associated with the Mar Menor lagoon (La Hita, Carmolí, Lo Poyo, Marchamalo and Amoladeras), its islands (Perdiguera, Barón, Ciervo, Redonda and Sujeto) and the headlands of Carmolí , San Ginés and Sabinar.

This area has suffered some pretty huge environmental issues over the years with uncontrolled building projects and human projects etc but now seems to be experiencing an welcome respite with the help of local ecologists and the EU.

As recently as July 2020 the “recovery and protection act of the Mar Menor” expanded the protected area with the inclusion of seven new wetlands in the environment of the lagoon. (Saladar de Los Urrutias, Mouth of the Rambla de la Carrasquilla, Saladar of Punta de Las Lomas, Punta del Pudrimel, Lagunas del Cabezo Beaza, Los Alcázares Lagoon, and the Lagoons of El Algar.

Parque Regional de Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar

The Salinas y Arenales Regional Park close to San Pedro de Pinatar is a wetland with sandy areas located in the northern part of the Mar Menor.

Inside the protected area of around 1000 hectares,there is a port and some salt production is still in operation.

It is now included under the umbrella protection of the The open spaces and islands of the Mar Menor. (Espacios abiertos e islas del Mar Menor)


Humedal del Ajauque y Rambla Salada

The Ajauque and Rambla Salada wetland is a protected landscape with an area of ​​1632 hectares and belongs to the municipalities of Fortuna, Molina de Segura, Santomera and Abanilla.

This wetland collects water from the nearby hills of El Charco and Serretilla through a complex drainage network during periods of rainfall that is normally quite scarce. However, this area is well known for some pretty torrential downpours at some times during the year which is why the Santomera reservoir was built in 1966 in order to collect and store water but also to control the damage done down stream by flooding.

Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) - Humedal del Ajauque y Rambla Salada
Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) – Humedal del Ajauque y Rambla Salada

In some areas, groundwater arises, forming permanent saline pools but there is a rapid extension of the reed beds that seems to be displacing the salt marshes. Some people are calling for the reed beds to be controlled whilst others say the area should be left alone.


Sierra de las Moreras

The Sierra de las Moreras protected landscape can be found close to the municipality of Mazarrón. It is an imposing mountain range that rises up next to the Mediterranean sea and in which the Mediterranean landscape predominates with pine forests and ravines Traditional crops, cliffs and coves also present creating a habitat ideal for the the spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) and birds of prey such as the Bonelli’s Eagle and the Peregrine Falcon.

This area is included within the limits of the Calnegre y Cabo Cope Regional Park ZEPA special area for birdlife.

The Cabezo del Plomo archaeological site stands out for its cultural importance and is well worth a visit. It is a fortified town dating back to 3000 years BC, from the Copper Age, and has been declared an “Asset of Cultural Interest”.

Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia - Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city)
Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia – Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city)

Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city) are eroded sandstone formations along the beach of Bolnuevo.

Read more here about The Calnegre y Cabo Cope Regional Park (Parque Regional Calnegre y Cabo Cope) and the Gredas de Bolnuevo (Ciudad Encantada)


Islas e islotes del litoral mediterráneo

The Natural Area Islands and islets of the Mediterranean coast is made up of 18 islands and islets along the coast of Murcia with the most well known being:

  • La Grosa Island with the island of Farallon, the largest of all is of volcanic origin and located opposite La Manga del Mar Menor in San Javier
  • Las Islas Hormigas, Cabo de Palos in Cartagena
  • The islet of Escombreras in front of the Port of Cartagena
  • The Isla de las Palomas in front of Mount Roldán in Cartagena
  • Isla Plana in Cartagena
  • Cueva Lobos in Mazarrón
  • Mazarrón Island .
  • Isla del Fraile in Águilas
Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) - Islas e islotes del litoral mediterráneo
Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) – Islas e islotes del litoral mediterráneo

All the islands are protected with the category of natural park status and,

are within the Natura 2000 Network declared as sites of community importance (SCI ) and some are also Special protection for birdlife (ZEPA)

See also the protected marine areas of Reserva marina de Cabo de Palos e Islas Hormigas and the Cabo Tiñoso marine reserve


Protected landscapes (Paisajes protegidos) in Murcia

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Nature reserves in Murcia (reserva natural)

There is only one In the region but I am sure that more nature reserves in Murcia (reserva natural) will be created over the coming years. I will add them to this information page when they are announced or if anyone lets me know about one.

Sotos y Bosques de Ribera de Cañaverosa

The Sotos y Bosques de Ribera de Cañaverosa on the river Segura close to the towns of Moratella and Calasparra covers an area of around 12 km in length and around 100 metres width of each river bank. (225 hectares approx). It is a site of community importance and part of the European Natura 2000 network.

The river here makes several meanders and has created some impressive cliffs of up to 80 metres in height. The forest alongside the riverbanks acts as an important corridor habitat and wildlife here is quite abundant. look out for otter and polecat, liitle bittern, grey heron and kingfisher. Among reptiles and amphibians there are good numbers of viperine snakes, mediterranean pond terrapin, Iberian spiny toad and the natterjack toad.

Nature reserves in Murcia
Nature reserves in Murcia

This is also an important refuge for the white clawed cray fish that has suffered greatly over the last few decades due to the introduction of other invasive species.

Head for Las Lomas de la Virgen lookout point (with your binoculars) where there are great views of the rice fields of Calasparra.

Sanctuary of Ntra. Srs de la Esperanza

The sanctuary of Ntra. Sra de la Esperanza is an important enclave for religious worship concentrating on the adoration of the Virgin Mary. It is situated in a cave carved into the rock 6 km from the town of Calasparra.

Two statues of Our Lady of Hope known as La Pequeñica (the Tiny One) and La Grande (the Big One) are kept in this sanctuary. According to legend, the small statue was found by a shepherd who sheltered his cattle in this cave next to the river Segura. People from the village tried to move the statue to the town of Calasparra but, it was too heavy and so they interpreted this as the will of the divine virgin who prefered to be left and worshipped in the cave. Information about the discovery of the bigger statue of La Virgen de la Esperanza remains unknown but In the year 1786, they were already both venerated.

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Marine reserves in Murcia

There are two marine reserves in Murcia that are famous worldwide for the quality of the diving available. The purpose of marine reserve areas is to protect marine ecosystems with differentiated ecological characteristics and which are of special interest for the regeneration of fishery resources.

Reserva marina de Cabo de Palos e Islas Hormigas.

In 1995, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Region of Murcia created this marine reserve based on studies carried out by the Autonomous Community and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography.

The elements that characterize the marine environment around Cabo de Palos and Islas Hormigas are high biodiversity, ecosystems in a good state of conservation, among which the POSIDONIA OCENICA meadows and the rocky coral reefs as well as a marked dynamic marine habitat.

There are two marine reserves in Murcia that are famous worldwide for the quality of the diving available.
There are two marine reserves in Murcia that are famous worldwide for the quality of the diving available. Reserva marina de Cabo de Palos e Islas Hormigas.

The marine reserve has an area of ​​18.98 km2 and contains an integral reserve in the surroundings of Isla Hormiga, El Bajo, El Mosquito and the islets of El Hormigón and La Losa.

The main objectives of this project is the protection, regeneration and development of resources of fishing interest for the maintenance of sustainable fisheries that allow artisanal fishermen in the area to preserve their traditional way of life and also the possibility of carrying out other low-impact activities (autonomous and apnea diving, environmental education, etc.) that contribute to the economic development of its area of ​​influence.

Ask in your hotel for information about diving companies that visit the Reserva marina de Cabo de Palos e Islas Hormigas.

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Cabo Tiñoso marine reserve

The seabed of Cabo Tiñoso holds a great wealth and diversity of underwater flora and fauna and the the richness, beauty and diversity of this area has made it one of the favorite diving destinations in Spain.

Most of the companies dedicated to this activity are located in the town of La Azohía. (https://www.buscabuceo.com/en/diving-center/561/rivemar-la-azohia)

There are two marine reserves in Murcia that are famous worldwide for the quality of the diving available. Cabo Tiñoso marine reserve
There are two marine reserves in Murcia that are famous worldwide for the quality of the diving available. Cabo Tiñoso marine reserve

The extensions of the oceanic Posidonia plant occupy the inlets and coves and especially the sandy areas around La Azohía-Cala Cerrada. The meadows of this plant are one of the most productive underwater ecosystems. The Posidonia de La Azohía meadow is the only one on the coast of the Murcia Region that blooms every year due to the special thermal conditions of its waters.


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Natural Spaces in Murcia

Natural Spaces in Murcia (Espacio Natural) are areas of the natural environment that due to their aesthetic and cultural values need special protection in order to preserve both the natural environment and the human acticities connected with it.

Espacio Natural Cañón de Almadenes

This area covers two kilometers on the Quípar river and nine on the Segura river and is around 116 hectares close to the towns of Calasparra and Cieza. Some points of the gorge are quite narrow with vertical walls over a hundred meters high.

There is a reservoir called La Mulata, which causes a significant decrease in the flow of the river so the continuous water course is sometimes reduced to a group of ponds (especially in the summer months). The bulk of the flow is diverted to the Almadenes Hydroelectric Plant, located further downstream. However, at the exit of the power plant the water is fed back into the Segura river.

Natural Spaces in Murcia - Espacio Natural Cañón de Almadenes
Natural Spaces in Murcia – Espacio Natural Cañón de Almadenes

This area is notable for otters (Lutra lutra), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and many species of dragonfly and became very popular with kayakers, canoeists and other watersport enthusiasts (something that is not really compatible with a wildlife reserve).

Recently, stricter laws have come into place in order to access the area and at certain times of year (1st January to the 15 de July) access is even more restricted so check with your hotel or a local tourist office before you visit this area.


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Sierra de la Muela, Cabo Tiñoso y Roldán

The natural area of ​​the Sierra de la Muela, Cape Tiñoso and Roldán is located to the west of the municipality of Cartagena and extends to the Bay of Mazarrón. It is of great ecological importance and over 11,000 hectares have been declared a ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) and SCI (Place of Community Importance). The area occupies practically all the coastal mountain ranges to the west of Cartagena, in the area of ​​Mount Roldán, continuing through the town of Galifa, El Portús, Sierra de la Muela, Cabo Tiñoso, Peñas Blancas, Campillo de Adentro, La Azohía and the Rambla del Cañar.

  • Cabezo Negro de Tallante : The youngest volcano in the Region of Murcia, formed only a million years ago with visible lava flows and pyroclastic formations.
  • Coastal strip between Azohía and El Portús : limestone cliffs, among which Cala Cerrada, Cala Salitrona, the arch of Cabo Tiñoso and the Aguja de La Muela stand out.
  • Peñas Blancas : An impressive vertical cliff with the associated Mediterraneun Fauna and Flora.
Natural Spaces in Murcia - Sierra de la Muela, Cabo Tiñoso y Roldán
Natural Spaces in Murcia – Sierra de la Muela, Cabo Tiñoso y Roldán
Cabo Tiñoso marine reserve

The seabed of Cabo Tiñoso holds a great wealth and diversity of underwater flora and fauna and the the richness, beauty and diversity of this area has made it one of the favorite diving destinations in Spain. Most of the companies dedicated to this activity are located in the town of La Azohía.

In July 2009, the Ministry of the Environment of the Region of Murcia began the procedures for the declaration of a protected area around Cabo Tiñoso with an area of ​​almost 22,000 hectares, of which 84 hectares would be conserved. In 2016 it was declared a marine reserve of fishing interest which makes it the second marine reserve in Murcia after the Cabo de Palos and Islas Hormigas Marine Reserve.


Saladares del Guadalentín

Los Saladares del Guadalentín is a Protected Natural Area along the Guadalentín river close to the towns of Alhama de Murcia and Totana. It is an extensive and very unusual alluvial steppe terrain but with saline wetlands which makes the area an ideal habitat for steppe-type birds, such as the Montagu’s harrier.

Natural Spaces in Murcia - Saladares del Guadalentín
Natural Spaces in Murcia – Saladares del Guadalentín

In the salt flats of the Guadalentín there is the largest European population of “Almarjo” (Halocnemum strobilaceum)


Sierra de Salinas

This Espacio Natural Protegido close to the town of Yecla is formed by a fold of limestone rocks creating a mountain range that occupies an area of around 15 square kilometers with the highest peak being La Capilla at 1,238 meters.

Natural Spaces in Murcia - Sierra de Salinas
Natural Spaces in Murcia – Sierra de Salinas

This area forms a natural border between the north of Murcia in the municipality of Yecla and the towns of Villena and Saladares in the region of Valencia.

In this mountain range there are numerous routes and natural areas to discover such as the Microrreserva de la Cueva del Lagrimal, El mirador de Rabasa and the Fuente del Lobo.


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Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia

Some areas have been declared as Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia. A natural monument is a natural element of singular landscape, geological, historical or other value (even symbolic value) for example a hundred-year-old tree, a singular forest, a cave or an island. Natural Monuments are normally outside the limits of other protected areas such as natural parks.

Monte Arabí (Located at the town of Yecla)

Mount Arabí is a mountainous area located in the municipality of Yecla in the province of Murcia. Its altitude is 1068 meters above sea level.

The most remarkable natural values ​​of the Arabí are the important and unique geomorphological formations forged by physical and chemical weathering. The result is a characteristic honeycomb pattern. In addition to a karst modeling, forming lapiaces, chasms and caves, such as the Cueva del Tesoro and the Cueva de la Horadada.

Also noteworthy is the presence of a great diversity of fossil marine fauna, composed of shark teeth, echinoderms, brachiopods and bivalves. In addition, biocalcarenites with intercalations of hematoid quartz (red quartz), also called Compostela hyacinth can be found.

The Cantos de la Visera are two shelters with cave paintings that were discovered in 1912, both shelters are located on the eastern cliff of Mount Arabí. The paintings are in the naturalistic style of Levantine art and are approximately 7,000 years old. The site has been a World Heritage Site since 1998 under the name “Rock Art of the Mediterranean Arch of the Iberian Peninsula” .

A great video here showing this outstanding archaeological, biological and geological enclave. (I like the music too! 🙂 )

There is also an excellent archaeological museum in the town of Yecla with interesting exhibition covering history and legends of the area. https://turismo.yecla.es/archaeology/


Gredas de Bolnuevo (Located at the town of Bolnuevo)

The spectacular geomorphological formations of here stand out within a particularly attractive semi-arid landscape and an extraordinarily unique ecosystem. Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city) are eroded sandstone formations along the beach of Bolnuevo.

Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia - Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city)
Natural monuments (Monumentos naturales) in Murcia – Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city)

The sandstone shapes are sculpted by water and wind over thousands of years and is formed by clay (gredas). The yellowish color is caused by the large amount of sand contained in the clay. The clay is made up of microfossils that date from the Pliocene period, about 4.5 million years ago. The sandstone has undergone an erosion process by the elements which resulted in mushroom and almost vertical shapes that seem to defy the laws of the gravity.


Sima de la Higuera( Located close to the town of Pliego)

La Sima de la Higuera (Cave of the fig) is the third natural monument to be declared in the Region of Murcia. It is located north of Sierra Espuña, in the municipality of Pliego and has over 5 kilomtres of extension.

As you can see in this video, it is for experienced cavers only.

If you want to visit this cave then find out more on the official website here: http://www.simadelahiguera.es/ (In Spanish) or get in touch with the Murcia official tourist office here: https://www.murciaturistica.es/es/espacio_natural/espacio-natural-protegido-sima-de-la-higuera-6519/

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