What to see in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park


The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, with 52,000 hectares, is located northeast of the province of Cádiz and northwest of the province of Málaga, in the westernmost massif of the Baetica System.  It includes several mountain ranges, among which the Sierra del Pinar, the Sierra del Endrinal, the Sierra del Caíllo, the Sierra de Zafalgar and the Sierra Margarita.

Within the limits of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park are the municipalities of Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Villaluenga del Rosario, Benaocaz, Ubrique, El Bosque, Prado del Rey and El Gastor, in Cádiz; Benaoján, Montejaque, Cortes de la Frontera, Jimera de Líbar and Ronda, in Málaga.

Considering its natural characteristics, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is considered one of the most important ecological areas of Andalusia. Its unique wealth of fauna and flora, has made it endowed with the qualification of Biosphere Reserve since 1977.

Cultural heritage of the Sierra de Grazalema

The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz also keeps an interesting historical legacy, housing a large number of archaeological sites and historical remains, from necropolis to chasms.

Among the municipalities that make up the Sierra de Grazalema we can see that there are declared six Historic Sites as the town of Benaocaz, the town of Ronda, the town of Zahara de la Sierra, the town of Ubrique, the old town of Grazalema and the population of Algodonales.

We also find among the municipalities of the Sierra de GrazalemaCultural Interest Goods such as the Cabezo de Hortales in Prado del Rey, the Necropolis of the Giants in Ronda, the Castle of Zahara de la Sierra, the Castle of Benaocaz, the Castle of Aznalmara in Ubrique, the Cave of the Pileta in Benaoján, the Hexagonal Tower in Zahara de la Sierra, the Walls of Benaocaz, the Castle of Fátima in Ubrique, the Cave of the Cat in Benaoján and the Agüita Tower in Ronda.


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Landscapes of the Sierra de Grazalema

From the orographic point of view, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in Cádiz constitutes the highest and steepest core of the province.

The landscape of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park stands out mainly due to the immense development of the reliefs on limestone rocks. Along with these materials, other types of rock appear that, by generating a different landscape, produce a beautiful contrast that is undoubtedly one of its most particular attractions.

Due to its topography and special weather conditions, the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park present as their most original feature the presence of a periglacial modeling still active that has led to the formation of canchales (Sierra del Pinar, Sierra de Líbar and Sierra de Juan Diego).

From the point of view of hydrography, sudden contacts (fractures, shifts, discordances) between the low permeable layers of the Cretaceous and the karstic layers, make the Sierra de Grazalema have an original hydrographic organization, which is distinguished by its important springs.


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Flora of the Sierra de Grazalema

The geological evolution of the land of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, gave rise to the appearance of endemic species such as the spanish fir, the holm oak, the gall oak, the cork oak and the carob tree; all typical of the mediterranean forest.

In the Gorge of Barrida, belonging to Ubrique, we can appreciate one of the most beautiful areas of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, dominated by the andalusian quejigo. These quejigares are accompanied by heather.

In the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park we can also find cork oak groves in places like the Gaduares River, the Tavizna Depression and the Gorge of Barrida. But the most characteristic forest species of the Sierra de Grazalema of all we can appreciate, is the spanish fir, perhaps because it is an exclusive spruce of this mountain range. The best mass of spanish firs that exists today and that we must not miss if we have occasion, is in the shade of the Sierra del Pinar, a territory of unusual beauty and unique charm that forms a forest of more than three hundred hectares of spanish firs and which is unique in the world. Other areas where we can count on its presence are in the Sierra de Hinojar, the Sierra de Labradillo, the Sierra de Zafalgar, the Sierra de Caíllo, the Sierra Margarita, the Sierra de la Silla and the Sierra de los Pinos; although in all these places appear isolated specimens or sometimes forming small forests. The spanish fir, on the other hand, does not form homogenous masses since it usually appears mixed with the oaks, especially in the high enclaves, and with the gall oaks, in the low ones. In the high elevations, the spanish fir is accompanied by groves of serbales and maples, as well as rocky formations that constitute the most varied and important vegetation from the floral point of view, since they appear a great diversity of habitats in which a lot of species coexist.

Finally, we can also find in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, examples of gallery forests, composed of various species of willows, which preferentially occupy the headwaters of rivers and streams in areas of clean waters. Among the willows are also other specimens such as ash and elm, and in the lower areas, poplar are incorporated. The best representation of the gallery forest is located on the upper course of the El Bosque River (between El Bosque and Benamahoma). Other wonderful examples of gallery forest are found in the Tavizna River and in some stretches of the Ubrique River, the Stream Bocaleones and the Guadalete Rivers.


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Fauna of the Sierra de Grazalema

The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park has a rich and interesting fauna, due to the abundant vegetation that generates an important amount of food resources; we speak, above all, of the autumnal fruits, as well as the spring and winter pastures.

The coexistence in a relatively small area of such a number of biotopes is, as well, another of the causes that explain the existence of a varied number of animal species that populate the Sierra de Grazalema.

In the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, there are species such as the griffon vulture, which has one of the largest colonies in Europe, or the spanish goat or ibex in this enclave. But, to know this variety, the best and most appropriate will be to place ourselves in the particular biotope of each of these species.

We begin with the forest biotope, the dominant one in the Sierra de Grazalema, where we include all the arboreal formations, and also sub-trees, regardless of the species that appear as dominant. These areas are occupied by some representatives of the group of mammals, such as deer, roe deer, cinnamon, dormouse, common vole or field mouse. However, most of its members belong to the group of birds, among which the wood pigeon, the turtle dove, the spider mite, the greenfinch, the finch, the little owl, the grosbeak, the sparrow miller and the scribe soteño. The species of insectivorous birds, such as the woodpecker, the cuckoo, the hoopoe, the warbler, the striped kinglet, the redstart, and the great tit, enjoy a greater number of individuals. Among the group of predators, the park conserves some species that are in danger of extinction, such as the wild cat, the mongoose, the owl and the eagle owl, as well as other species of great interest such as the booted eagle or the sparrowhawk, and reptiles such as the viper or the aesculapius snake.

In the rupicolous biotope of thr Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, unlike the previous one, we will only find a small vegetable biomass. Birds such as the wild pigeon, the woodland scythe and the gaudy sparrow, and also mammals such as the ibex appear here. Among the predators, the eagle owl, the common hawk, the golden eagle and the eagle of Bonelli, accompanied by some mammals such as the marten or the weasel. The reptiles are represented by species such as the ocellated lizard, the snout viper or the bastard snake, and among the ghouls, the common vulture, the griffon vulture, the egyptian vulture and the crow stand out.

The scrub areas of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, without taking into account their origin always have common physiognomic characteristics that make possible their grouping as a biotope, stand out for their abundance of species. Among the vertebrates, we can highlight the field mouse, the common vole, the dormouse and the rabbit. The most common birds are the goldfinch, the little green, the wild partridge and the red partridge. There are some amphibians and reptiles such as the mottled sapillo and the spur toad; the long-tailed lizard and the red-tailed gecko.

Finally, the abundance of species attracts predators from other places, although the Sierra de Grazalema in Cádiz also has its own predators, such as the ocellated lizard, the snout viper, the lesser kestrel and the weasel.


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