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Natural Monuments

Natural Monuments

The Cañón de las Buitreras is the strikingly named Gorge of the Vultures, after the colony of griffon vultures that nest in the area. The gorge itself is impressive, with often near-vertical sides at times reaching 200m high. In the bottom of the gorge is the Guadiaro river, which has eroded the limestone rock.

The Spanish fir, pinsapo in Spanish (abies pinsapo), is a rare tree most commonly found in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The pinsapo de las Escaleretas is the oldest pinsapo on record at over 350 years old. Its dimensions are impressive: it is 26m high, with a trunk measuring 5m in its circumference and branches that cover an area of 200m².

Within the Torcal de Antequera Natural Area is this protected geological feature, the Tornillo del Torcal. Its name - the Screw of Torcal - comes from its distinctive appearance, as its limestone layers have been eroded making them look like the threads twisting around a screw. It is used as a symbol for the Torcal Natural Area.

The Cárcavas de Marchal Natural Monument is a spectacularly eroded clay massif covering 5.2ha. For many years people have been carving out caves in the Cárcavas de Marchal for habitation. Located some 55km east of Granada city, Marchal is south of Purullena, off the A92 motorway.

These magnificent waterfalls, Los Infiernos, are located just outside Loja on the Genil river and cover an area of 2.5ha. Apart from its diverse plant, bird and animal species, this stretch of river is also noteworthy for its geological features, where the river has dramatically eroded the limestone landscape to create a series of rapids and the waterfalls themselves.

The only cave open to visitors in Granada province, the 1.2km-long limestone Cueva de las Ventanas is situated 45km north of Granada and just east of Piñar village, on the road to Bogarre. The Cueva de las Ventanas (Cave of the Windows) is named after the three large opening of the cave that serve as both an entry and exit.

South of Granda, on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada National Park, is the Falla de Nigüelas. Here, it's possible to see how a fault line (falla) caused a massive landslide during the Quarternary period. The Falla itself covers 7.6ha.

On the southern edge of the Sierra Castril Natural Park is this spectacular and exceptional rocky outcrop, the Peña de Castril, which looms large over the whitewashed houses of Castril village. Covering a mere 3.52ha, the rocky crag has the remains of a Medieval castle, which has had its towers and walls recently restored, and unsurpassed views over the countryside around Castril.

In the foothills of the Sierra Almijara on Granada's Costa Tropical is the seaside resort of Almuñécar, with a dramatic coastline of plunging cliff faces, secluded coves with beaches tucked away between steep cliffs and a smattering of jagged Peñónes (rocky outcrops) just off Almuñécar beach.

The Tajos de Mogarejo Natural Monument consists of steep cliffs up to 30m high, which used to be a quarry. The materials from this were used in the construction of Seville cathedral. The Tajos are near the village of Montellano, on the A376 near the Cadiz provincial border.

The Chaparro de la Vega is a magnificent 13m-high holm oak, measuring 30m in diameter in its entirety and having an estimated age of 700 years. The tree provides shade during the pilgrimage of Coripe villagers for the fiesta of Coripe's patron saint, the Virgen de Fátima.

Situated in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park near the village of San Nicolás del Puerto is the Cerro del Hierro (Iron Hill). As well as being a former Roman mining site, the Cerro del Hierro is noteworthy for its limestone features, among the most outstanding in Andalucia, which include chasms and gullies. Its unique microclimate means that there are some interesting plants.

Within the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park are these impressive waterfalls (cascadas), which are 7m tall at their highest point. The waterfalls are situated close to the source (nacimiento) of the Huesna river, the biggest watercourse in the Sierra Norte park. The banks of the Huesna river are densely populated with elms, willows, poplars and alders, inhabited by many birds, while otters live in the river.

This is one of two sites in Andalucia with dinosaur prints. The 24 prints cover an area of sandstone only 20m² on a site near Santisteban del Puerto, northeast of Úbeda. They date from the Late Triassic period over 230 million years ago, but the prints are still a mystery since scientists have been unable to identify the species of dinosaur that made the prints.

El Piélago Natural Monument consists of a Roman bridge, the Puente de Vadollano, which spans the Guarrizas river and its granite rock formations. The river has two impressive waterfalls.

Los Órganos Natural Monument is located within the Despeñaperros Natural Park very close to the Andalucia-La Mancha border. It is a spectacular geological feature, with massive layers of vertical strata towering upwards, which give it an appearance like a church organ, hence the name.

Located on the fringes of the Sierra Mágina Natural Park, this centuries-old woodland of Aleppo pine trees (pinus halepensis) is one of the best preserved of its kind in Andalucia. The trees, aged between 100 and 250 years, are home to a rich variety of birds.

This magnificent gall oak, the Quejigo del Amo o del Carbón, is thought to be more than 500 years old. Its name (del Carbón) reflects a common use of gall oaks, to make their wood into charcoal.