Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park

Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park
 

Overview
The Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park is part of the immense Sierra Morena. It is located in the Seville province and is one of the largest protected areas in Andalucia covering 177,484 hectares. The landscape is sierras of rolling hills, dominated by open stands of oak and cork oak. There is also Mediterranean forest interspersed with some olive groves and vineyards. There are three main rivers which run through the park: the Huéznar Rivera, in the central area of the park, the Viar river to the west and, finally, the Retortillo in the east. The park is home to the rare black stork and imperial eagle. Roman and Arab architecture can be found in some of the few towns and villages within the park.

The park is located between the Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park and the Sierra de Aracena y los Picos de Aroche Natural Park.

Walking
There are two visitor centres where information is available relating to the park’s walks. One is in El Robledo, the other near Almadén de la Plata at Cortijo Berrocal, Finca Las Navas in Berrocal. There is also a tourist office in Seville which can also provide information. 

There are many well marked walks ranging from 2km to 18km.  Vía Verde of the Huéznar River is one of the longer routes, it is also a cycleway.  This disused railway was once used for transporting minerals.

The Sendero Los Castañares starts and finishes in Constantina and is a particularly beautiful walk to do in Autumn as it takes the hiker through sweet chestnut groves, up to a hilltop view and back down again.

The Sendero La Capitana takes the visitor up the Sierra’s highest peak (La Capitana, 959m).  This is one of the more difficult routes but you are rewarded for your efforts with stunning panoramic views over Sierra Morena and Extremadura.

 

Sightseeing
Cuevas de Santiago and Cueva de los Covaches are a series of underground caves and caverns.  Cuevas de Santiago is near Cazalla de la Sierra and is where the remains of prehistoric artefacts dating back to the Paleolithic period have been found.  Cueva de los Covaches is in Almadén de la Plata.  These impressive caverns have been declared a site of cultural interest due to its Neolithic cave painting and the discovery of Bronze age artefacts.

Two towns worth visiting in the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park are Cazalla de la Sierra and Constantina.  Constantina is the largest town in the Sierra and has an interesting historic interest in the form of its ruined castle and Moorish narrow streets.

The Huéznar waterfalls (Cascadas de Huéznar), near San Nicolás del Puerto, have been declared a natural monument.  A popular picnic area, it is shaded by woodland providing a little respite from the heat during summer.  The source of the Río Huéznar is also here.  El Cerro del Hierro is also another interesting site to visit due to its strange rock formations.  Its karst landscape has been caused by erosion over thousands of years’, it was also mined for iron for many centuries.  It has been declared natural heritage site for its geologic and historic values. In Almadén de la Plata  there is La Travesia Necropolis which dates back to the  Bronze Age.

Animals/Birds
The park is home to short-toed eagles and griffon vultures, there are also some of the endangered black vulture, imperial eagle and black stork. Other birds of prey found here are red kites, Bonelli's eagles and eagle owls. 

Mammals include wild boar, foxes, genets, Egyptian mongoose, badgers, polecats and wild cats.  There is a large population of butterflies, several of which are endangered.

Plants
The flora like the fauna of the park is rich and diverse. Cork and holm oaks are the predominant trees. Gall oaks, Pyrenean oak, sweet chestnut, elms and ash are just some of the other species of trees found.

A significant proportion of the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park is taken up with dehesas.  Dehesa is a type of wooded pastureland found in Spain and Portugal. Dehesas are communal property used for the grazing of livestock, where residents can also obtain non-timber forest products such as wild game, mushrooms, and firewood. The dehesa system has great economic and social importance and the exploitation of the dehesa usually coincides with areas that could be termed "marginal" because of the poor quality of the soil and the lack other economic opportunities.

 

 
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