Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park Jaen
Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park Jaen
Municipalities: Beas de Segura, Benatae, Cazorla, Chilluévar, Génave, Hinojares, Hornos de Segura, Huesa, La Iruela, Iznatoraf, Orcera, Peal de Becerro, Pozo Alcón, Puerta de Segura, Quesada, Santiago-Pontones, Santo Tomé, Segura de la Sierra, Siles, Sorihuela del Guadalimar, Torres de Albanchez, Villacarrillo and Villanueva del Arzobispo.
The Natural Park Sierra de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, is the largest protected natural area of Spain and great part of Europe; its area is 209,920 hectares. Located in the north-eastern province of Jaén, and joins the eastern sector of Sierra Morena to the system which conforms Subbético mostly.
This park is the birthplace of two of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, the Guadalquivir, which flows into the Atlantic and the Segura, as it does in the Mediterranean. It also has many swamps and lakes; among the first ones, it emphasizes “El Tranco de Beas.”
These mountain ranges have a wealth of flora and fauna, with a total of 24 endemic species.
In its large surface, there are a total of 23 municipalities whose population amounts to a total of 87,744 inhabitants. They are mountain towns located in beautiful natural enclaves.
With more than 200,000 hectares, the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas is the largest area protected area in Spain. This high mountain area located to the northeast of the province of Jaén is one of the main hydrographic knots in the Spanish territory, since in it born the Guadalquivir and the Segura rivers that carry their waters to the Atlantic and Mediterranean, respectively.
Extensive and dense pine forests cove these mountains, which also harbour unique species such as the Cazorla violet, the daffodil world’s smallest and a unique carnivorous plant. Between the cracks of rocks inhabits a small reptile: lizard from Valverde, discovered in 1958, while in the cliffs and crags of the highest areas we can observe the mountain goat.
In the Park there are included, in greater or lesser extent, 23 municipalities in the regions of Cazorla, Segura, Quesada and Las Villas. In these lands of rugged reliefs are countless the spectacular scenery that can be admired. In the Cañada de las Fuentes, to more than 1,330 metres high was born the river Guadalquivir as high up the heart of the park. The Madera River crosses a magnificent forest of black pine, a native species found above 1,200 metres. In these and in other mountain streams as the Borosa, the Aguasmulas, the Guadalimar, etc, there is a considerable wealth of fish: the brown trout and rainbow trout, catfishes and breams, are an incentive to the amateur sport of fishing.
On the road along the valley of the Guadalquivir you can visit the village of Coto Ríos and the Tranco swamp, in the midst of whose waters can be seen the remains of the small Bujaraiza Castle.
In addition to the wild goat, the Park has the presence of other game species such as the deer and the wild boar, both reintroduced after their extinction, and the mouflon, from reforestation. All these species can be seen in semi-liberty in the Hunting Park called “Collado del Almendral”.
In the Botanical Garden of the Torre del Vinagre, next to the Reception and Interpretation Centre, you can observe the majority of woody species in the Park, grouped by plant associations and distributed in altitudes.
Although still present in certain areas on the right bank of the Guadalquivir, the native vegetation Mediterranean of oaks, thickets, mastics and strawberries is replaced by pine forests of pine and black pine. On the banks of the rivers appear ashes, willows, poplars
This Park contains one of the richest floras of the entire Mediterranean basin. Of the more than 1,300 listed species, 24 are exclusive to this area. The fauna is also varied with species such as predator mammalians like foxes, genets and stone martens, raptors, and one of the largest entomological riches of the Iberian Peninsula.
The main resource of these regions, besides the production of olive oil of excellent quality, is the wood, with what were built ships and the railway sleepers. The sheep is also of great importance in the region of the Sierra de Segura where the breed “segureña” is the most characteristic.
The abundance of hunting and fishing and the special climate strongly mark the traditional mountain cuisine. Among the most typical dishes are the gachamiga, tortilla serrana, leg and roasted lamb’s head … There is also an ancient tradition of making handicrafts pork and pastry: San Isidro cherries, figs from Burunchel “melones escritos”; of Peal de Becerro, etc.
In many of the towns of the Park artisans work are done in woven rugs, mats and blankets. Other activities of ancestral origins are made by the inhabitants of the mountains: basketry, carpentry, embroidery, ceramics, they also retain many processions and festivals, such as cattle loose on the streets during the month of August in Génave, Peal de Becerro and Santo Tomé or the bowling competitions in Iruela.
Of the nearly 400 years of Arab domination and the Reconquest period remain the historic and artistic group of Segura de la Sierra, the Castillo de San Miguel de Bujaraiza, Arab and Christian castles of Cazorla and the castle and the watchtower of Tíscar.
How to get there
The special characteristics of size and location of the Natural Park and its location in the eastern part of the province of Jaén, limiting to the northeast by the Sierra de Alcaraz (Albacete) and to the Southwest with the Natural Park Sierra de Castril (Granada) facilitate the accesses to the Natural Park from multiple origins.
The nearest major axis is the Madrid-Cádiz (N-IV), which leave the N-322 that connects the area with the rest of Andalucía and other autonomous communities, with the one that really articulates the road system of interior. Since the Park has a large surface, as detailed below the main entrances:
Its location makes it accessible from multiple places. So, the central point is the Andalusia highway N-IV (Madrid-Cádiz), which, through the N-322 (Córdoba-Valencia) connects the area to Western Andalusia and the rest of the Communities.
The entrance to Andalusia, from the North of Spain, is performed by the Natural Park of Despeñaperros, to continue to Bailén, where we take the N-322, towards Linares and Úbeda until Torreperogil. Here we take the right road A-315, towards Peal de Becerro, and from there the A-319 to Cazorla.
The entry into the region for the N-322 from Albacete, can be made from the diversion of Torreperogil, or before in Villacarrillo, towards Mogón, to Santo Tomé. From here on the JV-7101 to Cazorla, or deflected by the JV-7102 to Chilluévar.
For those visitors coming from the south of Andalusia, Murcia and Alicante, they will be accessible by the A-92 to the vicinity of Baza, where it links with the A-315 that leads to Pozo Alcón, Quesada and Peal de Becerro.
Those visitors from Almería and Granada, have another choice; get through the A-320 by Iznalloz and Guadahortuna to Jódar, and until Peal de Becerro (C-328), and by the (A-319) to Cazorla.
Also those who access from the north of the province of Granada can make it through to the C-321 from La Puebla de Don Fadrique leading to Santiago de la Espada. This latter access is widely used by visitors from the Community of Murcia.
If you want to access from Valencia, the easiest and fastest way is the N-430, which leads to Albacete, where it joins the N-322 towards Génave, Villacarrillo, Mogón, Santo Tomé and Cazorla.