What to see in Sierra de Baza Natural Park

Sierra de Baza Natural Park was declared as a natural park in 1989. Its strategic location as an area of passage between Andalusia and the Spanish east through the natural path, which is the intrabetic furrow, made the footprint of man in these lands go back to the Lower Paleolithic.

Heritage of Sierra de Baza Natural Park

The popular housing in Sierra de Baza Natural Park area has mainly two versions. On the one hand, there are houses of Roman-Muslim reminiscences of wooden structure, with balconies of great flights and whitewashed walls. The other option has troglodyte airs and arises from the adaptation of the numerous caves that are in its clay mounds. Its characteristics include the front clearing that generates a terrace through which the house is accessed and the arched door with brick jambs. They are usually one-story with terracotta tile floors and, both inside and outside, they appear covered with lime.

On the other hand, the Cortijo de Narváez (Narváez Farmhouse) works as a reception and interpretation center within Sierra de Baza Natural Park.

The municipality of Baza has five recreational areas within the Sierra de Baza Natural Park: the Fuente del Pino Recreational Area, the Tablas Recreational Area, the La Canaleja Recreational Area, the Pinarillo Recreational Area and the Bastidas Recreational Area. However, the Los Olmos Recreational Area belongs to Caniles.

You can also find in Sierra de Baza Natural Park the so-called Pozo de la Nieve, a municipal-owned mountain refuge that welcomes the hiker in the Prados del Rey (King Fields). In the past, the mountain people installed their natural refrigerator here and in summer they used it to preserve food and make ice cream.

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Landscape of Sierra de Baza Natural Park

Sierra de Baza Natural Park sits with its 52,337 ha. in the central-eastern zone of the province of Granada. Surrounded by an arid landscape and dressed in intense green, it rises as a climatic and mountainous island in the center of the Hoya de Guadix (Guadix Wide Valley) and the Hoya de Baza (Baza Wide Valley) as a counterpoint to the surrounding highlands.

The base of the massif of Sierra de Baza Natural Park marks its dominions on the plain and puts a brake on the advance of the desert.

The municipalities of Baza, Caniles, Gor, Dólar and Charches converge in this ecological reserve. The towns of Baza, Caniles and Gor, border the perimeter of Sierra de Baza Natural Park.

The intricate orography marks the hydrographic network of Sierra de Baza Natural Park. The Sierra de Baza establishes the watershed between the Hoya de Guadix (Guadix Wide Valley) and the Hoya de Baza (Baza Wide Valley). Its main river is the Gor River, which collects the waters from the southern slope at the hands of the Barranco Casas de Don Diego (Don Diego Houses Ravine) and flows into the Guadiana Menor River.

The heights of this mountain range between 847 meters in Baza town and 2,271 meters in Calar de Santa Bárbara (Santa Bárbara Calcareous). From its top you can see an impressive panoramic view of the mountain ranges that surround Sierra de Baza Natural Park.

Other important elevations are the Rapa (2,228 m), the Picón de Gor (Gor Charcoal) (2,157 m), the Calar de San Sebastián (San Sebastián Calcareous) (2,159 m) and the Calar del Descabezado (Headless Calcareous) (2000 m). In winter, its peaks and highest parts are covered with snow. Further north the hill of Cerro Quintana (Quintana Hill) (1921) rises towards the sky and to the south the summits of Saint Cristóbal (1458 m) and Las Tejoneras (2030 m) stand out. The nature of these mountains is basically limestone. Waterproof materials abound in these steep slopes and with the thaw a large number of flooded areas appear, such as the plateau that rests at the foot of Calar de Santa Bárbara, covered with green meadows most of the year. In the north and center of the park there are caves and lapiaces typical of its karst morphology.

The intense mining activity of other times has also left its mark, with the limestone and gypsum mines, now abandoned. Linked to the limestone-dolomitic nature, the aquifers that emerge to the surface in the form of springs and fountains make an appearance, such as the Fuente de las Víboras (Viper Fountain), near the Barranco de los Hoyos (Hoyos Ravine), the Fuente de los Atrevidos y de Morales (Atrevidos and Morales Fountain), in the southeast, and the Fuente del Royo del Serval (Royo of the Serval Fountain), in its western limit. The upwellings sprout crystalline in the Barranco de la Fraguara (Fraguara Ravine), the Barranco de Jarales (Jarales Ravine) and the Barranco de las Casas de Don Diego.

Finally, in the south and central-eastern areas, the slopes were terraced so that they were repopulated with pine trees, while glacial redoubts survive on its southern domains.

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Flora of Sierra de Baza Natural Park

Sierra de Baza Natural Park enjoys a semi-arid Mediterranean climate. The rains are abundant in autumn and spring. They have a greater incidence on the north slope than on the south and tend to be more abundant in the west than in the east, because the clouds from the ocean cannot cross the high elevations and discharge on its western side. The westerly winds are the strongest. The most typical of its weather is given by its days of summer drought.

All this influences the vegetation that covers Sierra de Baza Natural Park, which is influenced by the massive reforestation based on black pine and Aleppo pine that was undertaken in the 1940s and 1950s, at whose feet it sprouts in autumn mushroom paradise. However, in its rugged physiognomy there are still fragments of the primitive Mediterranean forest, autochthonous pine forests and high mountain pastures, deciduous species that occupy the most humid areas and masses of conifers of repopulation. The vegetation adopts different clothes depending on the height. Between nine hundred and fourteen hundred meters, the original holm oak survives with the fragrant procession of broom, rosemary and white rockrose. Around it there are tall bushes of juniper, torvisco, kermes oak and hawthorn. Other climbing plants such as asparagus and honeysuckle along with peonies, orchids, primroses and mosses complete the vegetation. The Llanos del Chaparral and the Dehesa del Raposo are a faithful example of this Mediterranean ecosystem. In areas punished by grazing, the pasture takes over the landscape in the company of kermes oak and broom, which with two meters of wingspan form authentic groves.

Where the trees have disappeared, compact espartales and rosemaries appear dotted with thyme, immortelle, brush, running thistle or milk thistle. Between 1,300 and 1,800 meters the holm oak forest loses density and category. It is the thorny species that invade the deep and dry soils thanks to the barberry, hawthorn and wild roses, to which are added the blackthorn, the hellebore and the «Ononis aragonensis».

Sage and lavender flourish in the stony grounds of Sierra de Baza Natural Park, while the black pine descends from the peaks to occupy the steep slopes. A large number of species sprout up on poor, scrub-free lands that form the so-called pure pastures. In some shady places and ravines, modest maple and thorn forests still survive as a sample button, escorted by rose hip, peony, honeysuckle, hellebore and spring, whose degradation gives way to an intricate tapestry dominated by hawthorn, blackthorn Andalusian, bramble, rose bushes and barberry. When autumn arrives, these deciduous forests carry out in a chromatic explosion and the tops of the maples stain the landscape in red and ocher.

Above eighteen hundred meters, Sierra de Baza Natural Park keeps its greatest treasure. Like authentic botanical relics, the Scots pine and Salgareño pine forests stand on their peaks to remind us of what the original Betic pine forests of the Andalusian southeast were. Its slender figure shines with its own light in the central nucleus of the Baza massif, especially over the Calar de Santa Bárbara and the Prados del Rey, the Calar de San Sebastián, the Fonfría, the Relumbre and the Mayoral. In shady and powerful soils they grow dense until reaching more than ten meters in height. Due to their advanced age and the incessant action of the wind, their glasses usually have the shape of a flag. A dense carpet of junipers and creeping junipers swirls in its environment, although other shrubby species and thorny deciduous plants also find accommodation during the wetter seasons.

The birch trees occupy the ridges and rocks next to the thyme and a thorny community that stands up to the snow, the ice and the hot summer: the mancaperros, the nun seat and the little cross broom. On rocks containing some magnesium many of its twenty-one endemisms flourish.

The green high mountain meadows are frequent in various points of Sierra de Baza, but especially significant in the so-called Prados del Rey, close to the Calar de Santa Bárbara and at two thousand meters high. Although less extensive, they also have a presence on the northern slopes of the ravine and Fonfría. Its profuse herbaceous vegetation forms true sheep, very similar to those of Sierra Nevada.

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Fauna of Sierra de Baza Natural Park

An important source of wealth in Sierra de Baza Natural Park area is livestock, with the Segureña sheep. Hunting and beekeeping also bring their benefits.

Although most of the jurisdiction of Sierra de Baza Natural Park is publicly owned, it has a sector dedicated to hunting activity that is managed by a hunting society in close collaboration with the Environment Agency.

The wolf, the lynx, the roe deer and the deer disappeared from Sierra de Baza Natural Park without leaving a trace throughout the past century. However, in the habitat that covers its slopes, genets, badgers, marten, weasels, rabbits, hare and a good number of birds and rodents find shelter.

In the scattered maple forests that bear witness to its vegetal past, the wildcat and the eagle owl roam. While sheltered by the holm oaks of intricate vegetation and under the penetrating gaze of the booted eagle and the Bonelli's eagle, the fox, the wild boar, the field mouse, the bastard snake, the smooth snake, the ladder snake, the common gecko and the long-tailed lizard are looking for life.

In the native pine forest of Sierra de Baza Natural Park, which has managed to reach us flawlessly because of its inaccessibility, the goshawk inhabits, while above this height and around the high mountain meadows they have established their private reserve of hunt several pairs of golden eagles.

The mountain goat, reduced to small populations, falls high on the bare rock rocked by the trill of wheatears, rockers and scribes. And the griffon vulture crosses the sky very attentive and coincides in its flight with the buzzard.

Faced with such a display of life, Sierra de Baza Natural Park cannot continue to be that great unknown and, from the province of Granada, it invites you to discover the charms of a mountainous island.

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Other curiosities of Sierra de Baza Natural Park

If you are a hiking lover you will find numerous forest paths that cross Sierra de Baza Natural Park in all directions. The most important is the GR-7 Trail, an authentic forest highway that connects these lands with the Pyrenees.

In addition, Sierra de Baza Natural Park offers the visitor a guide service to taste its intimacies with the help of experts. Field work and other types of activities related to the crafts of the region are also carried out.

On the other hand, the influence of the human race in the lands of Sierra de Baza Natural Park dates back to the Lower Paleolithic. This is evidenced by the Cuesta de Baza (Baza Slope) site, where the bones of horses, elephants and rhinos have been found that were hunted by man seven hundred and fifty thousand years ago.

From the Eneolithic, cave paintings of crude schematic style were found on Monte Jabalcón (Jabalcón Mount) and megalithic necropolis.

Meanwhile, in the Gor and Gorafe area there are tombs from the Bronze Age, although their golden age came with the Iron Age. It is then that the legendary metropolis of Basti and Tútugi, the current cities of Baza and Galera, germinated. Basti stood in the nerve center of the so-called Bastetania, and even minted money; while Tútugi established intense commercial and cultural ties with Greeks and Carthaginians. Its inhabitants were the continuators of El Algar culture and they are distinguished from the Iberian peoples as they moved further west and were linked to the Tartessian world.

The spectacular site of Cerro del Santuario (Sanctuary Hill) or Cerro de los Tres Pagos (Three Payments Hill) revealed many unknowns about Basti. The enigmatic Dama de Baza (Baza Lady) was discovered in its famous necropolis. This necropolis houses a giant cemetery that rests on a hill one hundred meters long by forty wide and houses about one hundred and seventy different burials with their respective grave goods that cover a period between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC.

In the first third of the 3rd century BC, the Carthaginians conquered Bastetania. During the Roman domination they lost their sovereignty over this region at the hands of Acci, the primitive Guadix. The Roman footprint survives in the Cerro del Cepero (Trapper Hill), where a cremation necropolis and remains of a large town with an abundance of ceramics and sculptures, such as the robe that is exhibited today in the National Archaeological Museum, rests. Basti was an important Roman pass that from the Pyrenees reached Cástula (Linares) and vestiges of that Via Augusta are still preserved, which was used to connect Baetica and Taha.

In the 6th century the Visigoths conquered these lands and in the early 8th century the Muslims conquered the city; From that moment on, its population, basically Muladí, turned to trade and the artisan industry. Livestock and agriculture became the economic base of the region, with the breeding of horses and sheep. When Arab Spain was fragmented into the Taifa kingdoms, Medina Bastha came under the orbit of Granada, playing an important role within the defensive system of the northern border. It had a powerful wall, of which there are four stone towers and two other smaller towers of stone masonry and mud. This and the fortresses of Huéscar, Orce, Caniles, Benzalema and Benamaurel established an outer safety belt in their torna.

From its Muslim past, Baza preserves one of the oldest baths in the Iberian Peninsula. It was built between the 10th and 11th centuries with powerful walls and covered by strong vaults. In it there are three rooms inscribed in a rectangle that are connected by means of arches.

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