Sierra de Baza Natural Park

Sierra de Baza Natural Park
 

Overview
The Sierra de Baza Natural Park is part of the Cordillera Penibética located in the northeast of the province of Granada. It covers 53,000 hectares and is home to high jutting peaks of up to 2,000m along with pine forests.  In fact, the large differences in altitude over a short distance are one of the features that characterise this park. For example, Baza is at 845 metres above sea level whereas the Calar de Santa Bárbara only a few kilometres away reaches a height of 2,269 metres above sea level.

One of the most valuable ecosystems in the Sierra de Baza is the native pine forests of the high mountains and these high peaks are often snow capped during winter and are home to several species of birds of prey including the golden eagle.

The consequences of human action is very visible in the Sierra de Baza, which has been subjected to overgrazing, mining, land reclamation and uncontrolled exploitation of forest for timber and fuel. So that the potential area of the oak and Mediterranean forest has been transformed by large areas of pine reforestation. Fortunately, there are still large areas of natural vegetation with important ecological value it represents.

The park has been inhabited by humans from the early Neolithic period, about 7,000 years ago. This presence has been constant as the land within the park offers everything from easily protected narrow valleys and abundant natural resources including year round water and grazing for livestock. For much of this time humans have practiced transhumance and there is  a network of paths and roads which have been used continuously for millennia for the movement of cattle from the lowlands of the region of the surroundings and the peaks of the Sierra,
The effect of man on the park over such a long period of time means that it is not really possible to consider the park a completely natural environment and there are a large number of villages and farms scattered throughout the park today, most of them in ruins. The park is situated north of the Sierra Nevada National Park and south of the Sierra del Castril Natural Park.

 

Walking
There is a visitor’s centre which provides information on the area. There are also seven signposted walks in the park.

Sightseeing
Cave paintings and Neolithic-Bronze remains can be found in the hills of Cerro Jabalcón. Outside of the park in Baza, there are Arab baths which date back to the 13th Century. The town of Baza was founded by the Iberians in the 4th century B.C. and named Basti by the romans. As part of the Roman province of Tarraco, it was an important commercial center. Its bishopric was founded in 306, and the ancient church of San Maximo occupies the traditional site of a cathedral founded by the Visigoth king Reccared in about 600 A.D.; the cathedral was converted into a mosque under Islamic rule (713-1489).

Under the Moors, Baza was an important frontier post along the border with the kingdom of Murcia. It was also a major commercial center, with a population upward of 50,000, making it one of the three most important cities in the Kingdom of Granada. In 1489, during the Reconquista, the city fell to Queen Isabella I of Castile, after a stubborn defense lasting seven months. Her cannon still adorn the Alameda.

Geology
The terrain is made up of deep gullies, numerous brooks and of course the mountains which give the Sierra de Baza Natural Park its name.

Animals/Birds
The Sierra’s mountains are the idea habitat for golden eagles, short-toed eagles, booted eagles, Egyptian vultures, peregrines, kestrels and eagle owls. Other birds found within the park are hoopoes, crested larks red-legged partridges and woodpeckers. Records show that around a 100 species of different birds have been recorded here.
Mammals including wild cats, beech martins, genets, wild boar and deer are found here. As well as water snakes, painted and southern toads and the unique to the Hoya de Baza area the Baza butterfly.
There are also 17 species of amphibians and reptiles including the painted frog and the Betic midwife toad. This means that the park contains 30% of the total number of  Iberian species.

Plants
Although some of the Sierra de Baza Natural Park is quite barren in parts, it is still rich in vegetation. Pine woodland is predominant and consists of mainly Austrian, stone, Aleppo and Corsican species. There are also holm oaks, gall oaks, junipers and Mediterranean scrubland.

 

 
Return to...       Nature Parks in Andalucia