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Natural Parks in Andalusia

Sierra Nevada National Park

Natural Parks in Andalusia

Sierra Nevada National Park and Natural Park – Granada – Almeria

The Sierra Nevada National Park and Natural Park are located in the central part of the Cordillera Penibética, the massif of Sierra Nevada is the largest of the Iberian mountain areas equipped with its own structural unit. Called by the Arabs of the Middle Ages as “Sierra del Sol”, it has not only one of the most valuable floras across the European continent, but also hides a rich cultural and historical heritage accumulated over centuries. Tartars, Visigoths, Romans … have left their mark in the Alpujarras region; to south of the massif, while the most important cultural heritage comes from the Muslim civilization of which we still remain, for example, sophisticated irrigation techniques. This huge natural fortress served as a refuge for the Moors until, after many revolts and uprisings were expelled in the mid-sixteenth century after the uprising of Aben-Humeya.

Sierra Nevada occupies a considerable area of the provinces of Granada and Almería. The Natural Park with an area of 171,829 hectares, of which 86,208 are also National Park includes 60 municipalities of the natural regions of the Marques of El Zenete, the Valle de Lecrín, the Sierra Nevada west, the basin of the River Nacimiento and, finally, La Alpujarra, the most extensive and that was the last Moorish redoubt in the Kingdom of Granada.

Mulhacén Peak with its 3,481 metres is the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula. But there are also more than 20 peaks over 3,000 metres that are only surpassed in the rest of Europe by the Alps. As remains of ancient glacial lakes are sprinkled among the many peaks (Altera, Laguna de Aguas Verdes …), as well as a special edge shaped glacial cirques and valleys in troughs.

The main plant communities dotted over this rocky massif are the holm oak groves, deciduous forests of chestnut and oak, high mountain groves and padded brushwood on the very highest, where the species form a cushion to protect the low winter temperatures and icy winds. The numerous rivers that run through Sierra Nevada are flanked by galleries formed by poplars and willows. In the “cascajares”, accumulations of loose stones, and the “borreguiles”, high mountain pastures typical of wet soils, are located most of the more than 60 species that grow exclusively in the Sierra Nevada. It must, therefore, the visit to the Botanical Garden of La Cortijuela in the vicinity of Cerro del Trevenque where there are showed more than a hundred species of flora in the Park.

We can also find and often unnoticed, invertebrates that are exclusive to this massif between those who are over 20 species of butterflies. The sienna provide shelter for numerous species of small birds, a good number of raptors and various species of mammals among which the wild goat, grazing on high sheep-like mountain. After obtaining a permit, hunting enthusiasts flock to the National Hunting Reserve of Sierra Nevada to get this trophy.

Agriculture is the main resource of the mountains, cereals, vines and olive trees are the most common growing. In the protected and better watered valleys there are abound of cherries, apples, walnuts and hazelnuts. There are also magnificent chestnuts, adapted and naturalized since the XVI century, occupying the wetter headwaters of streams and ravines. The mining operations have great tradition. Nowadays it is extracted iron from the deposits Alquife, but formerly they were used also other minerals, lead and silver in Busquístar and Güejar Sierra, copper in Jerez del Marquesado, etc.

In the town of Lanjarón we can find a mineral water bottling plant, the first of its kind in Spain, as well as a spa where you can enjoy the medicinal properties of these waters. In Pampaneira and other towns of Barranco de Poqueira exist textile crafts workshops where they make rugs, blankets, curtains, among others. Beekeeping is a major activity peak in Sierra Nevada and specifically in the Alpujarra. To 1,476 metres high is the village of Trevelez, where you can taste the famous and excellent hams.

In Monachil River basin there is a tourist complex around the ski resort.
Other activities that can be practiced in Sierra Nevada are the trout fishing in the park preserves, hiking, mountaineering, etc.

There are also many shelters as “The Ubeire” (Fiñana) and “El Cerecillo”(Laujar de Andarax).


(*) Note: Municipalities in Sierra Nevada Natural Park and Sierra Nevada National Park, Municipalities in Park and not in National Park

Sierra Nevada National Park and Natural Park in Granada and Almeria

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