Tag Archives: Natural Parks in Spain

Sierra Norte de Sevilla

Photo – Cerro del Hierro (Author: Arturo Menor)

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Sevilla
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 177,484 hectares
  • Declared a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2011
  • Towns and villages: Alanís, Almadén de la Plata, Cazalla de la Sierra, Constantina, Guadalcanal, El Real de la Jara, El Pedroso, La Puebla de los Infantes, Las Navas de la Concepción, San Nicolás del Puerto

Points of interest

A semi-mountainous area, set between two other natural parks, which together form an extended protected range. To the east is Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche in Huelva province. To the west is Sierra de Hornachuelos in Cordoba province.

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla shares with its neighbouring parks endangered creatures such as the Iberian Lynx, Black stork and Imperial eagle.

Evergreen oak trees dominate the terrain, interspersed with meadows or dehesas.

This sparsely populated area has two large man made lakes and rolling hills with winding country lanes.

The Huesna river, which holds both common and rainbow trout, has a waterfall that has been declared a National Heritage site. It is near the source of the river (nacimiento del Río Huesna) close to the village of San Nicolás del Puerto.


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A second National Heritage site is El Cerro del Hierro, a mine in the Roman era and further exploited until the beginning of the twentieth century. It is a combination of open mining, water filled pits and natural Karst landscape with rich mineral content.

Flora

A small enclave of Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) is the only one of its type in the province. Gall oaks (Q. faginea) are growing in the shady, humid areas. The Mediterranean climate favours Cork (Quercus suber) and Holm oak trees (Q. ilex). There are also Stone pines and groves of Sweet chestnut trees. The thickets are of Rockrose (Cistus sp), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Wild cherry (Prunus avium), Fig (Ficus carica) Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) and Turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus).

River banks are densely wooded and consist of Alder, Ash, Elm, Poplar, diverse species of Willows and Southern nettle tree.

Fauna

Red deer and Wild boar are the larger mammals, small and elusive carnivores are Genet, Fox, Badger, Mongoose, Wild cat, Pole cat and Otter. Amongst the raptors are Short-toed, Imperial and Bonelli’s eagles and Griffon and Black vultures, Red kite and Eagle owl.

Look out for the majestic Black stork. Azure-winged magpies, Bee-eaters, Golden orioles and Hawfinches are some of the colourful birds to look out for.

The large Ocellated lizard can sometimes be spotted sunbathing on a rock or fallen tree.

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla Global Geopark

The Sierra Norte de Sevilla Global Geopark is located at the north of the province of Seville in the Sierra Morena and. The geopark includes ten towns and villages within its limits: Alanís, Almadén de la Plata, Cazalla de la Sierra, Constantina, Guadalcanal, Las Navas de la Concepción, El Pedroso, La Puebla de los Infantes, El Real de la Jara and San Nicolás del Puerto

The geopark’s varied geological, archaeological and mining history has resulted in the recognition of many sites of geological interest including:

  • Karst and mine complex at El Cerro del Hierro natural monument: a spectacular paleo-karst which originated from Middle-Upper Cambrian erosion of Lower Cambrian limestone.
  • Los Covachos Cave in Almadén de la Plata is 300m long and drops by 26m with various galleries divided between two levels, containing over 1000 inscriptions.
  • La Sima abyss in Constantina.
  • Syncline, with Ordovician to Devonian sedimentary rocks and an abundance of pelagic fossil species.
  • A site containing the highest concentration of impressions of Lower Cambrian jellyfish recorded in the Iberian Peninsula.
  • The crag-land landscapes in the Geopark’s abundant igneous rock outcrops.
  • The Beja-Acebuches amphibolites interpreted as the remains of an ancient ocean floor, and a suture between tectonic plates.
  • Permian and the Triassic rocks which represent the filling of post-orogenic continental basins.
  • Cueva Santiago in Cazalla de la Sierra is a complex cave system with artifacts from Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures (before the Bronze Age, between about 4500 and 3500 BC).
  • The waterfalls and travertine deposits in the Hueznar River.
  • Guadalcanal is a former mining settlement, with medieval walls, Mudéjar churches and a castle.

Since the area was declared a global geopark, interpretation panels have been placed at visitor centers and and various information points in the area. (see information centres below)

Also in the area: (Ask about them in a visitor centre for more information)

  • There is a beautifully restored Carthusian Monastery near Cazalla de la Sierra, visitors can admire the architecture and view the Contemporary art which is on permanent display.
  • La Travesia Necropolis dating from the Bronze Age has been recognized for its archaeological value and is located in Almadén de la Plata.
  • There are numerous dolmens (megalithic tombs).

Information/Visitors Centers (The National Park has two visitor centres.)

Centro de Información El Robledo

Address: Ctra. Constantina-El Pedroso km. 1, 41450 Constantina. Sevilla

The El Robledo visitor centre is situated in the heart of the Sierra Norte Natural Park, 1,4 kilometres from Constantina. It is a quiet place with the sounds of riverine forests. During the summer months,aromatic plants typically found in monte mediterráneo woodland fill the air with their strong scents.

The El Robledo botanical garden, adjacent to the visitor centre. Is well worth a visit and holds a large collection of the plants to be found in the area.

Cortijo El Berrocal

Address: Camino Rural Almadén de la Plata-Los Melonares, km 5,5. 41240 – Almadén de la Plata (Sevilla)

The visitor centre is located in the public forest of Las Navas-Berrocal, a place of great scenic beauty where visitors can admire plant formations typical of the Sevillian highlands: holm oak and cork oak pastureland, riverine vegetation and Mediterranean forest with mastic, rockrose and strawberry trees.


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Sierra Cazorla Segura y Las Villas

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Jaen
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1986
  • Park surface area: 209,920 hectares

Points of interest

The Sierra Cazorla, Segura y las Villas offers a great array of very well conserved ecosystems, each of high natural value with many endemics. Spectacular landscapes including waterfalls, deep valleys and lakes make this park unique. The important Guadalquivir and Segura rivers both begin in the park. Large pine forests clothe this limestone mountain range whose highest point is Pico Empanada at 2,107m. It is a very accessible park with many old donkey routes crisscrossing the mountains.

Flora

Too many to name and a botanists dream destination. Boasting more than 2000 different plant species, of which 34 are unique in the world such as Viola cazorlensis. This territory holds a 5th of the variety of plant species to be found within the Iberian peninsular.

A visit to the botanical gardens at Torre de Vinagre is pretty much obligatory.

Fauna

Historically this zone has constituted a refuge for the wild fauna. There are 280 species of vertebrates (11 of which are fish, 12 amphibians, 21 reptiles 185 birds, and 51 of mammals). One reptile unique to the park is the Valverde lizard. (Algyroides marchi)

Spanish ibex, Red deer, Fallow deer, Mouflon, Wild boar and Red squirrel are well represented.

Griffon vulture is plentiful and the Bearded vulture has been re-introduced recently.


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Also in the area

The area has held onto its historic roots and the village of Segura de la Sierra is dominated by its Mudejar castle. The church of Our Lady of Collado dates from the 15th century also there are Arab baths.

The village of Hornos de Segura has marvellous views, it retains its old city walls and the Puerta de la Villa or old city gate plus the castle and church which have led to the denomination of this town as an “Historic Artistic Site”.


The Sierra de Cazorla in Andalucia has the stunning Parador de Cazorla.
Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla
Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla

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Located at the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, in stunning natural surroundings, the Parador de Cazorla is perfect accommodation for a rural getaway in the north east of Andalusia.


Information/Visitors Centers

Cazorla, information centre

In the town of Cazorla you will find a well equippped information centre. probably the best place to start if you are in the area.


Torre del Vinagre

The main park visitor centre is at Km. 45 of the A-319 road between the villages of Cazorla and Hornos de Segura, one of the main access routes into the park.

The Torre del Vinagre visitor centre should be an obligatory visit and there is a huge amount of information about Spain’s largest Nature Park. Its outstanding location in the Guadalquivir valley makes it possible to enjoy one of the most emblematic sectors of this natural area.

The Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas encompass five types of environment, each with its own scenic attraction, and this information centre helps visitors to discover all their secrets. The different landscapes comprised of rocky environments, with a whole universe of shapes and colours; water environments, based around water as the source of life, richness and diversity; pine groves, the predominant woodland in the Sierra; the craggy relief of the high peaks – a wilderness that is nevertheless full of life; and lastly the human landscapes, where Man has transformed the land he has occupied since times immemorial.

The exhibition presents the inhabitants of these five landscapes, and there is a room in which visitors can view live images of deer and other local wildlife. These species, among others, are crucial to the hunting activity for which the area is famous, and the Torre del Vinagre centre describes their evolution in great detail.

Opposite the Torre de Vinagre Visitor centre you will also find the excellent Botanical gardens .


Fluvial Río Borosa

To get to this visitor centre follow the signposts along the A-319 CazorlaHornos de Segura road to the Torre del Vinagre visitor centre at Km. 45. From there, turn off towards the River Borosa and the Loma de Mariángela ridge. The facility is 1,5 kilometres further on.

The Río Borosa Visitor Centre is in one of the most emblematic parts of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, on the bank of the river from which it takes its name and which is the Guadalquivir’s first sizeable tributary. Next to the centre there is a fish farm and a path called the Río Borosa trail which follows the course of the river and enables visitors to familiarise themselves with the area.

The location is the ideal setting for visitors to discover the importance of water and the river ecosystems which exist in this protected area. But apart from shaping the landscape, water has also been used by Man since ancient times to transport wood, this area’s main natural resource. In the Río Borosa visitor centre we can see how logs were floated down river from the timber yards to the railway stations lower down the mountain, from where they were distributed throughout Spain.

Common and rainbow trout, barbel and nase constitute the diet for a wide variety of the small mammals and fish-eating birds which inhabit this environment. Between them they represent a huge food chain which is also covered in the display at the visitor centre.


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Tajo International

  • Region: Extremadura
  • Province: Cáceres
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2006
  • Park surface area: 25.088 hectares
  • ZEPA 2000. Tajo Internacional y Riberos

Points of interest

The Tajo International natural park is a relatively recently registered park in Extremadura which was initially partly covered by an area of special protection for birds ZEPA in 2000.

The area is predominantly waterways with steep banks and therefore a haven for wildlife. Two birds in particular that need this tranquility are the Black vulture and Black stork, both of which are endangered species in Spain.

Mediterranean woodland covers the hills with rich vegetation along the water courses.

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Cornalvo and Sierra Bermeja

  • Region: Extremadura
  • Province: Badajoz
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2004
  • Park surface area: 11,601 hectares
  • ZEPA (Zona Especial Protección para las Aves) (1979)

Points of interest

The Natural Park of Cornalvo and Sierra Bermeja is situated close to Mérida, the capital of Extremadura.

It consists mainly of oak dehesas, (open oak woodland rotated with pasture and cereal crops) on rolling hills with the small mountain ranges of the Sierra del Moro and Sierra Bermeja on the western flank. The highest point is “Pico Terrero” at 546 m above sea level.

The ground is littered with large granite boulders, a stone which was put to great use in the time that the Romans occupied this area.

At the south of the park is a small reservoir whose dam was constructed by the Romans in the 1st century with the intention of holding water for use in Emérita Augusta (now called Mérida)

The Natural Park of Cornalvo and Sierra Bermeja is situated close to Mérida, the capital of Extremadura.
The Natural Park of Cornalvo and Sierra Bermeja is situated close to Mérida, the capital of Extremadura.

This town was founded in 25BC by the Emperor Augustus to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The water was moved by means of an aqueduct some 15km in length. The dam, which still retains water, is 200m in length, 18m in height, built using granite blocks with concrete, it was declared a National Monument in 1912 and is well worth a visit.

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Monfragüe National Park

  • Region: Extremadura
  • Province: Cáceres
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1979
  • Upgraded to National Park: 2006
  • Park surface area: 18.852 hectares
  • Z.E.P.A (1988) Special Bird Protection Zone
  • Biosphere Reserve 2003

Points of interest

The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds, Black vulture, Black stork, Imperial eagle and Bonelli’s eagle.

Add to that the worlds most endangered wild cat, the Lynx which also resides here and one can see why it was upgraded from a natural to a national park.

The park altitudes range between 450 – 750m, covering an area 30km long and 7km wide. The habitat types are oak woods, scrub land, rocky out crops, river and reservoir plus dehesa.

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Sierra Mágina

  • Region: Andalucia
  • Province: Jaén
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 19,961 hectares

Points of interest

There are three peaks over 2000m within the Sierra Mágina park. The highest is Mágina which stands at 2,165m and dominates the limestone terrain. This area is part of the Cordillera Subbetica range and along with other mountains in the area has a selection of highly specialized plants that are endemic to the park.

The exposed rocky peaks, vertical cliffs, shaded woodland, river banks and extensive Olive and Almond groves each offer a different habitat.

The “Pinar de Cánavas” is a natural monument south of the village of Jimena. It is a small woodland of exceptionally large, centennial Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis).

The sierra Magina contains many limestone caves, several of which are open to visitors. Neolithic cave paintings and Paleolithic tools date back to the 4th and 3rd century BC. (Ask about them in your hotel or one of the information centres.)

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