Sierra de Andújar Natural Park

Sierra de Andújar Natural Park
 

Overview
The Sierra de Andújar Natural Park is located north of Andújar and is part of the immense Sierra Morena. The Sierra Morena is a mountain range which stretches for 400 kilometres east-west across southern Spain, and providing the watershed between the valleys of the Guadiana to the north and the Guadalquivir to the south. The Sierra de Andújar Natural Park is over 70,000 hectares and is heavily covered by Mediterranean forest and scrubland which is home to many endangered species including the lynx, wolf, black vulture and imperial eagle. Its most characteristic species are the oak and cork oak, in the form open stands, and in the higher altitudes where humidity is higher, the gall oak.

There are many game reserves located in the park where it is possible to hunt deer and boar. The economic impact of hunting is important for the income of residents of the Park and it has largely replaced subsistence agriculture which is now restricted to the more productive areas of the park. It is also possible to see the differences in the landscape between cattle farms and those engaged in hunting. The latter providing abundant dense thickets designed to provide shelter to wild boar and deer and which also provide an ideal habitat for many other animals.

As demand has grown from relatively wealthy Spaniards for a ‘country retreat’ this has also meant that most of the marginal farms have been sold off and are now used primarily as places of recreation rather than as businesses.

The park is located between the Despeñaperros Natural Park and the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park.

Walking
The visitor centre is called the Centro de Visitantes Las Viñas de Peñallana. There you can find information on the walks and accommodation available within the park.

Two of the well-marked routes within the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park are as follows:-
The Sendero Encinarejo takes the visitor on a 3km walk along the Jándula river. The end of walk brings you to the Encinarejo reservoir which is an ideal place to cool down.

The Sendero Sanctuario Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza is a 4km circular walk which leads you through pine forest and provides wonderful views from the Cerro de la Cabeza.

 

Sightseeing
Especially recommended is a visit to the castle of Burgalimar, one of the oldest in Europe, in the town of Baños de la Encina. Other architecture of interest is the town hall in the town of Villanueva de la Reina, and the Palacio de los Coello.

The Sanctuario Virgen de la Cabeza is a famous a hermitage perched on the top of a granite outcrop, the Cerro de Cabezo. It is particularly important for its romeria (pilgrimage) which is held on the last Sunday in. Due to its location, it provides the visitor with stunning views of the Sierra and the Jándula river valley.

Andújar is another place worth visiting as it has many monuments such as the roman bridge on the River Guadalquivir, the church of Santa María where there are paintings by El Greco, the church of San Miguel and the Gothic church of San Bartolomé. The town hall, which was previously the Casa de Comedias, the Hall of Justice and a Renaissance palace known as the Casa de los Niños de Don Gome. In Baños de la Encina there is a medieval fortress built by Alhakem II, which was declared a national monument in 1931 and is one of the few remaining buildings by the Caliphs left in Spain.

Animals/Birds
The Natural Park is one of the last two places in Spain where the endangered lynx are found. This Natural Park currently holds around 70% of the world population of Iberian Lynx, about 0ne hundred individuals. This stunning animal lives within some of the last remaining unspoiled Mediterranean forest where it specialises in hunting rabbits and birds. The park is also home to the increasingly rare wolf that also inhabits the Sierra. Other rare species include the imperial eagle and black vulture. Other birds of prey include golden eagles, griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, buzzards and owls. The park is also home to wild boar, roe deer, otters and wild cat among others.

Plants
The vegetation in the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park is mixed, but is predominately Mediterranean including cork and holm oak, strawberry trees, lentisc and wild olives. There are also forests of umbrella and Austrian pines. The banks of the Jándula river are home to willows, poplars, oleanders and alder trees.

 

 
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