Sierra Mágina Natural Park

Sierra Mágina Natural Park
 

Overview
The Sierra Mágina Natural Park covers 20,000 hectares and has a rich history which can be seen in the form of its prehistory cave paintings and Muslim and Christian architecture.  It is home to many ruined castles and watch-towers which were built by the warring religious parties.  The Natural Park is named after its highest peak that reaches 2,165 metres.  The limestone mountains are rugged, barren and often snow capped in winter.

This park was a natural border between Moorish and Christian kingdoms in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Therefore, the region is characterized by a peculiar atmosphere reflected in the narrow medieval streets of their towns and castles of Albánchez Magina and the Jódar that houses the visitor center.

The park is located west of the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park.

Walking
The visitor centre is found Jódar in its 13th hilltop Moorish castle.  Here you can pickup maps and information about the park. There many walks within the Sierra, several of which are signposted.  They range in length and difficulty.  Many provide the walker with magnificent panoramic views over the Sierra such as the Sendero de Fuenmayor and Sendero Las Viñas. 

 

Sightseeing
Due to the nature of limestone, the mountains have been eroded leaving sheer cliffs and many underground caverns and caves, some of which can be visited. In many cases you will need your own caving equipment to visit them.  Some of these caves are listed below:-

Cueva de los Esqueletos in Albánchez de Mágina has remains dating from the Paleolithic period.
Cueva de la Granja in Jimena.  This cave has Neolithic cave paintings which point to human settlement here from the 4th to the 3rd centuries BC.
Cuevas de Majuelos y Aro in Pegalajar.  This particular cave has impressive stalagmites, stalactites and columns. Humans remains and artefacts have been found here dating from the 3rd century BC.

Adelfal de Cuadros picnic area is worth a visit for the medieval Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Cuadros, the Torreón de Cuadros watchtower with panoramic views, a cave and an oleander grove along the Cuadros river.
Bélmez is a beautiful and interesting medieval village which is set in a stunning position overlooked by a ring of mountains.  It is home to a ruined Moorish castle and towers.

There are many castles around the Sierrain the Sierra Mágina Natural Park.  Some have been restored and others are ruins, but all have dramatic settings and wonderful panoramic views.  Jódar’s castle is home to the visitor centre for the park.  Its castle is one of the best-preserved castles in Jaen and one of the oldest in Andalucia.
Albánchez de Mágina has an 11th-century restored Moorish castle.  There is a ruined hilltop Castillo de Bedmar in Bédmar-Garcíez which dates from the 15th century.
Huelma, Jimena and Cambil also have castles dating from around the 13th century.

Animals/Birds
Birds of prey such as Bonelli’s and golden eagles inhabit the higher peaks along with mountain goats and Spanish Ibex.  It is also home to many other raptors such as griffon vultures, short-toed eagles, peregrine falcons and kestrels.  The woodlands are inhabited by mammals such as wild boar, wild cat and genet.  Snakes and lizards are common as well as frogs and toads. 

Plants
Holm and cork oaks and gall oaks are found below 1,800m in the Sierra Mágina Natural Park.  There are some particularly well preserved holm oaks, some centuries-old found in the Cerro de Saladillo.  Above 1,800m, there are laricio and Austrian pines, yew trees and endemic small shrubs.  These plants are better suited to the harsh winters. Also found here is a rare blue flowering growell.  In spring time the Sierra is covered in wild flowers.  In autumn many hundreds of different species of mushroom appear.

 

 
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