Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park

Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park

Hornachuelos Natural Park (Parque Natural de Hornachuelos) is located in the west of the province of Cordoba and lies within the massif of Sierra Morena, the Dark Mountains, so called on account of the colour of this slate rich earth. It covers 60,032 hectares and is part of the vast 400,000 hectare Unesco Biosphere Reserve for the Sierra Morena mountain range.  It is home to many endangered species such as lynx, black vulture, black stork, golden eagle and Bonelli's eagle.

This topography of the park is crossed at the easter side by the network Bembézar River watershed that drains much of the central area and whose flow is regulated through Bembézar reservoirs and dam. The western part of the park is crossed by the Guadiato Retortillo.

The mountains have been greatly weathered and eroded over geological time and range in height between 250 metres and 725 metres. This gives a fairly modest difference of only 500 metres in altitude across the park. The topography and poor soil mean that the land is not suitable for cultivation and consequently it has been mainly colonized by Mediterranean vegetation.

There is some oak that may be accompanied by cork in the wetter areas, or by wild olive trees near the Vega del Guadalquivir. There is some pasture with grazing under the oak trees. At the edges of rivers you can find poplars, alders and ash trees, ivy and hawthorn. The streams and rivers are colonized by Ranunculus. Lemna, Potamogeton and Zannichellia. The park is located to the east of the Sierra de Aracena y los Picos de Aroche Natural Park and the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park.

There is a visitor centre at Huerta del Rey which can provide information on the available walks.


The now deserted Monasterio de Santa María de los Ángeles located approximately 10km outside Hornachuelos is worth visiting.  Perched on top of a steep hillside it provides splendid views over the Bembézar river.

The initial formation of the area, along with the erosion that has taken place over time, has created a smooth undulating relief of low peaks, between 250 and 750 metres in altitude, and deep river valleys.

The Hornachuelos Natural Park is home to many birds of prey, these include golden, short-toed and Bonelli's eagles.  There is a large and important colony of griffon and black vultures and also three colonies of tawny vulture. During winter migration the three reservoirs in the park - Bembézar, Breña and Retortillo are visited by larger amounts of great comorants.  The area is rich in game such as wild boars and red deer.  The rare lynx, black stork and wolf are also found here.

The predominant vegetation in the Hornachuelos Natural Park is holm oaks and cork oaks, interspersed with Mediterranean undergrowth.  These include lentisc, Kermes oaks, strawberry trees, dwarf fan palms and myrtle. The river banks are home to poplars, ash trees, willows and oleanders. Endemic rare plants include the clover Trifolium boissieri


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