Nature

Feel the freedom

Lose yourself in a land full of contrasts, from rugged mountains to olive groves that make up a rich and varied landscape that is a true feast for the senses.

Jaén has the largest area of protected natural spaces in Spain (304,175 hectares): 4 Natural Parks, 3 Natural Areas, 2 Nature Reserves, 5 Natural Monuments and 2 Periurban Parks. All of them equipped with the optimal infrastructures and services for the use, enjoyment and understanding of these places.

Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas

The park spreads over 210.000 hectares (over half a million acres) —roughly the size of the Lake District in England or the Great Smoky Mountains in America— and is the largest protected area in Spain and the second largest in Europe. Take advantage of its excellent accommodation facilities and the services offered by active tourism firms and live a marvellous experience right in the midst of nature.

The mountains meet all quality standards. In 1983 the whole mountain system was included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. In 1986 the Andalusian Government further strengthened its protected status by declaring it a Natural Park. Some small towns, such as Cazorla, Hornos and Segura de la Sierra, have been catalogued by the Andalusian Government as "Historic-Artistic Sites" (officially protected towns or villages on account their heritage value) and constitute but a sample of the monumental quality of the who ...

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Parque Natural Sierra de Andújar

The Natural Park Sierra de Andújar offers rich contrasts in hill morphology and height. This countryside is home to the largest stretches of natural vegetation in Sierra Morena. The predominant trees are holm oaks (Quercus ilex), portuguese oaks (Quercus faginea) and cork oaks (Quercus suber).

Atlantic oak woodland is found in Sierra Quintana. Also, different animal species, such as Iberian lynxes (Lynx pardinus) or golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) inhabit the Sierra de Andújar, one their last few refuges in the Iberian Peninsula.


Cattle raising has considerable importance for the local economy, with extensive estates of Mediterranean pasture land devoted to fighting bull breeding or game hunting (deer, fallow deer, mouflons and wild boars). Hunting is indeed a most important economic resource in the area and many well-known hunting reserves, both public and private, are located in the Park.

 

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Parque Natural de Sierra Mágina

A unique mountain in southern Spain

Most of the 20.000 Ha. (47.000 ac) of the Park are located in an area of mountain peaks of great ecological value. It is home to many endemic flora species. Sierra Mágina constitutes an ideal habitat for many animals and is believed to have the greatest concentration of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in Europe. Other attractive features of the area are its singular geological formations: limestone pavements and unusual karst landforms and sinkholes. Prehistoric settlers chose many of the caves abounding in the area as symbolic sanctuaries and as military posts to control neighbouring valleys. There are many caves and rock shelters with wall paintings —Cueva de la Graja ('Rook Cave') in the district of Jimena and Cueva del Morrón in the district of Torres— and an Iberian archeological site in Cerro ('hill') Alcalá, in the district of Torres as well.

This massif is the highest one in the province of Jaén. The peak of the Mágina mountain reaches an altitude of 2.167 metres (7.109 ft) above sea level. For this reason, the Park is frequently visited by mountain climbers eager to crown this and other peaks.

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Parque Natural Despeñaperros y Paraje Natural de la Cascada de la Cimbarra

Despeñaperos, a gorge carved by a river of the same name into the slate rocks of Sierra Madroña, runs from northwest to southeast, breaking the uniformity of Sierra Morena with its rugged craggy shapes. The rocky walls, falling almost vertically, reveal the arrangement of the different strata. At the spot known as 'Los Órganos' ('The Organs'), some of the rocks are shaped like gigantic organ tubes.

Portuguese, holm and cork oaks (Quercus suber, Quercus ilex and Quercus faginea) constitute the most representative vegetal species of Despeñaperros. This autoctonous vegetation contrasts sharply with the green areas reforested with stone pines (Pinus pinea).


Among the typical animal species living in this protected Mediterranean scrubland habitat, the following occur in substantial populations: genets (Genetta genetta), beech martens (Martes foina), wildcats (Felis silvestris) and mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon). Wolves and lynxes (Lynx pardinus) have occasionally been spotted in the area. As in most of Sierra Morena, deer and boar hunting is a common sport activity.

Many different species of birds also live in the Natural Park of Despeñaperros: Spanish imperial eagles (Aquila adalberti), griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), European serins (Serinus serinus), rock thrushes (Monticola) and wheatears (Oenanthe). The Valdeazores gully is of great tourist interest for its outstanding botanical diversity. One of the main cultural attractions of the area is the existence of major prehistoric Iberian sanctuaries, located in the 'Collado de los Jardines' ('Gardens' Pass'). Human presence in this natural space dates back to the Neolithic period. The archeological remains found in the 'Cueva de los Muñecos' ('Dolls' Cave'), one the major sanctuaries in Spain, date back to this period. The rock paintings found in the 'Cuevas de las Vacas del Retamoso' ('Cave of the Retamoso Cows') are also of great artistic and historical value.

Outside the limits of the Natural Park, very near the village of Aldeaquemada, the river Guarriza suddenly turns into a spectacular waterfall calleed 'La Cimbarra'. The whole area, comprising 534 ha. (1319 ac.), has been declared a Nature Reserve. Near the Cimbarra Waterfall, we find a whole group of important caves and shelters with Levantine and Schematic Rock Art on their walls that were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998: 'Tabla del Pochico', 'Poyos de la Cimbarra', 'Garganta de la Hoz'...

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Other natural spaces


Exceptional natural enclaves, wetlands, almost monstrous botanical specimens, ... complete the unique wealth of Jaen's natural heritage.

The province of Jaén offers tourists who visit it small protected areas of naturalistic interest, most of them related to wetlands, which are grouped in peri-urban parks, natural landscapes and reserves and natural monuments.

Monumentos
Naturales

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