The Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park

The Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla la Mancha
  • Province: Cuenca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2007
  • Park surface area: 73,726 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Arcos de la Sierra, Beamud, Cuenca, Huélamo, Portilla, Tragacete, Uña, Valdemeca, Villalba de la Sierra, Zafrilla.

Points of interest

The Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park is located in the northeast of the province of Cuenca and within the mountain range of the same name. (The area known as the Serranía de Cuenca itself is much larger and is within the provinces of Cuenca, Guadalajara and Teruel).

The protected area is close, at its northwestern edge, to the Alto Tajo Natural Park. The Cuenca mountain range stands out for the existence of a very unique landscape, in which fascinating geological structures are numerous. This peculiar landscape, sculpted by water on calcareous rocks, is called karstic and its formation is due to the dissolution and/or precipitation of calcareous rocks.

Los barcos at the Ciudad Encantada
The scale of these formations can be seen when a person is also in the picture! In this case, my kids by “Los barcos” (The boats)

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.

There are many sites declared and protected as a national interest or a natural monument and all are well worth as visit.
  • Ciudad Encantada – Enchanted City (Natural Site of National Interest).
  • Nacimiento del Río Cuervo – Source of the Cuervo River (Natural Monument).
  • Parque Cinegético Experimental de El Hosquillo – El Hosquillo experimental hunting and wildlife park.
  • Callejones de Las Majadas. (Similar to the Ciudad Encantada).
  • Lagunas de Cañada del Hoyo, Torcas de Los Palancares y Tierra Muerta – Lagoons of Cañada del Hoyo, sinkholes of Palancares and Tierra Muerta (Natural Monument).
  • Torcas de Lagunaseca – Lagunaseca sinkholes (Natural Monument).
  • Hoz de Beteta y Sumidero de Mata Asnos – The impressive Canyon of the Guadiela river and Botanical trail (Natural Monument).
  • Reserva Natural de la Laguna del Marquesado – Lagoon of Marquesado.
  • Laguna de Uña y Embalse de La Toba – The Uña lagoon and La Toba reservoir.
  • Nacimiento del río Júcar – Source of the Júcar river.
  • Mirador Ventana del Diablo y cortados del Júcar – The devils window and Júcar gorge viewpoint.
The Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park
Cuenca, close to the hanging houses and the Parador in the background.
Find a a hotel in the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park

There is plenty of accomodation in the area with perhaps the Parador in Cuenca at the higher end. A fabulous hotel indeed! Use the map below to find your hotel.
The Iberian highlands rewilding project

If this project is a success it will create an impressive backdrop and opportunity for sustainable wildlife tourism in Spain. Hides for bird photography in steppe environments, Iberian lynx, raptors and other birds of prey along with large mammals will certainly draw the attention of companies that offer this type of wildlife holiday. Hopefully (and perhaps most importantly) many local companies will also be able to take advantage of this extra protection given to this massive and impressive area in Eastern Iberia. Read more here:

Short video about the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park

The area holds one of the best forest masses in the center of the Iberian Peninsula due to its mixed woodlands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Black pine (Pinus nigra), Oak (Quercus faginea, Quercus ilex subsp. ballota), and some impressive stands of ancient Juniper (Juniperus thurifera). The rivers Cuervo, Guadiela and Júcar have carved impressive gorges creating excellent habitats making this area popular for botanists, wildlife enthusiasts and bird watching.

The Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park
Ancient junipers are present amongst scots and black pine woodlands.

Part of the Serranía de Cuenca has been a national hunting reserve since1973 and as such there are sizable populations of game species such as red dear, roe deer, wild boar, Spanish ibex and mouflon. Smaller mammals include fox, badger, stone marten, rabbit, hare. Closer to the water courses otters are present.

There are large populations of bats present in caves including some endangered species such as Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginatus), Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale), Schreibers’s bat (Miniopterus schreibersii), Mehely’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi) and greater horseshoe bat(Rhinolophus ferrumequinum),

Griffon vultures and other birds of prey are common along the cliffs and ravines whilst at the lagoons of Tobar and Uña there are concentrations of aquatic birds.

Trout fishing is popular in the area and the rivers here are considered a refuge for endemic fish such as the barbel and the endangered European crayfish can also be found here along with amphibians including Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl), Iberian green frog (Rana perezi), European tree frog (Hyla arborea), Stripeless tree frog (Hyla meridionalis), Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), Mediterranean painted frog (Discoglossus pictus), Iberian Spiny toad (Bufo spinosa), Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita), Iberian spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes), Midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) and Marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus)

Information/Visitors Center

The Serranía de Cuenca natural park has three interpretation centers, the main and largest one being located in the town of Tragacete. In Uña, the theme is dedicated mostly to water and in Valdemeca the focus is on the botany of the natural park. All are well worth a visit and have excellent information in order to get the most out of a visit to the area.

The official website for the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park is:

The town of Cuenca should be on your list of visits in this area as well

Cuenca is a city set in the mountains of east-central Spain. Founded by Moors, it retains its Historic Walled Town with steep cobbled streets and medieval castle ruins. Perched on a limestone spur high above the Júcar and Huécar rivers, it’s most famous for its well-preserved “casas colgadas,” or hanging houses.

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