Sierra Magina Natural Park – Jaen
Sierra Magina Natural Park Jaen
The Sierra Magina Natural Park, located to the south of the province of Jaén, stands as a solid isolated mountain mass among the countryside of olive groves, looming over the Guadalquivir depression.
On its surface, 19,961 hectares are included 9 municipalities (Albanchez de Mágina, Bédmar y Garcíez, Bélmez de la Moraleda, Cambil, Huelma, Jimena, Jódar, Pegalajar and Torres), with an estimated population of 36,000 inhabitants. As part of the Cordillera Subbética, the Sierra Mágina, with a maximum altitude of 2,167 metres at the peak of Mágina, is the highest mountain in the province of Jaén. On its rugged relief of steep slopes and deep valleys, sits valuable Mediterranean vegetation, which includes species of very restricted distribution in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and other unique of this mountain.
A journey through the park and its surroundings is very rewarding, both for its scenery and for its towns and traditions.
In the countryside of Jaén, Sierra Mágina stands isolated as a solid, valuable refuge for Mediterranean flora which includes species of very restricted distribution in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and others throughout the world only grow here. This is the highest mountain in the province with 2,167 metres of altitude (Mágina), one of the most important in Andalusia. The limestone nature of the rocks causes a rugged landscape where it is easy to find sinkholes, torcales, sinkholes … and other forms characteristic of the called modelling “karst” on which sits a Mediterranean scrub of holm oaks, oaks, and juniper bushes and crawling on the highest peaks.
This set of mountains is located to the south of Jaén, to 30 kilometres from the capital, highlighting among the next depressions of the Guadalquivir and Guadiana Menor and other mountain ranges of lesser height. The nearly 20,000 hectares of this park includes part of the municipalities of Albánchez de Magina, Bedmar y Garcíez, Bélmez de la Moraleda, Cambil, Huelma, Jimena, Jódar, Pegalájar and Torres.
The steep slopes of the mountain and the erosion are the cause of poor soil, which have a clear forest land. The park has peaks over 2,000 metres altitude, which determines that vegetation is composed of different species at different heights. In the lower areas natural vegetation has disappeared almost completely. Along with olive groves, cherry and almond trees, some oaks are preserved although most have been replaced by rosemary and esparto.
Rising to 1,800 metres oaks and maples abound, together with dogwoods, cornicabras, Finally, in the tallest peaks is preserved a small pine Corsican pine but for the most part vegetation consists of plants that have adopted a bearing cushion to withstand the effects of snowfall and wind. And this is precisely where the species of scientific interest, those that are unique Mágina and unique in the world.
At the beginning of this century the main predators disappear in the Mediterranean region: the wolf and the lynx; but instead there are small carnivores such as wild cats, genets and the fox. Among the birds of prey, the kestrel, peregrine falcon and golden eagle. In the peaks winters the unmistakable capiblanco blackbird, while the rock thrush nests in the crevices of rocks. Finches, goldfinches and greenfinches live in the oak forests and olive groves.
In Mágina there is a large population of mountain goats, although they are difficult to observe. It is also abundant the wild boar, living mainly in lowland areas, where vegetation is thicker.
The agricultural activity of the mountain rage back to the end of the XV century when, after the conquest, the new settlers from the realms of Jaén and Granada began to cultivate the land. The olive tree is the most widespread crop in the Natural Park, but it is also cultivated figs, cherries,… The municipalities of the park also have artisan traditions of sweets and pork processing, esparto, etc.
Natural border between Muslim and Christian territories in the XIII and XV centuries, Sierra Mágina preserves in its towns remains of fortifications and castles that date from this period: the towers of Bélmez y Cuadros, the castles of Bedmar y Garcíez, Jódar y Albánchez ode Mágina, and the remains of fortresses and Arab walls in Jimena y Cambil conquered by Christians in 1485.