The Top 10 Natural Monuments You Cannot Miss
If Andalucia can boast anything, it is certainly is extensive natural heritage. The eight provinces that make up the Southern Spanish community are home to corners of great beauty and environmental treasure. As we begin 2014, it’s time to start planning the breaks ahead and how we might find some rest and respite in the months ahead. Here we’ve gathered ten natural destinations across Andalucia that you should not miss this year.
1. The Chestnut Saint of Istan
The province of Malaga guards with care an ancient chestnut that is located in the municipality of Istan. The area is known as Hoyo del Bote – a stunning area that underscores the value of this ancient tree. The Castaño Santo, as the tree is known, measures 13 metres in diameter and is home to a number of legends and stories, including the rebellion of Sierra Bermeja in the 16th century. This event was the most representative of the actions of Ferdinand the Catholic, who held a mass there in 1501. To reach this place, you need to follow the sign posted bicycle route named Istan-Castaño.
2. Chaparro Of The Souls of Grazalema
The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is home to another significant natural heritage landmark of Andalucia: The Chaparro of Souls. This beautiful tree is spectacular for a number of reasons. The first to note is the tree’s enormous size, measuring 5.20 metres at the shaft. It is impressively tall with warty protuberances.The second thing to note is the tree’s historical and cultural background as the producer of cork oak that was earmarked to pay for the oil used for the blessed souls lamps in the churches of Grazalema.
3. The Centennial Pine of Mazagon
The Centennial Pine of Mazagon is located on the Huelva coast, on the fossilised dunes of the Asperillo. In addition to its exceptional beauty, the tree’s enormous dimensions are impressive to all. This pine example stands on a twisted trunk that resembles a Greek sculpture, with its branches extending horizontally, giving the impression that it is lying down. Together, these characteristics make the tree appear like a parasol. If you find your way past the province of Huelva, don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this beautiful natural image.
4. El Tornillo of El Torcal
The Malaga province is home to one of Andalucia’s most stunning landscapes: El Torcal.
Within this stunning Karst landscape, one can find El Tornillo, a truly original natural monument. Here, visitors can find marine sediments formed into a huge stone city by 150 million years of erosion from rain, wind and ice. El Torcal is dotted with curious natural sculptures, one of which resembles a giant screw – or Tornillo – hence its name. Be sure to include this emblematic site on your trip to Andalucia.
5. Dinosaur Footprints In Santiesteban del Puerto
The dinosaur footprints of Santiesteban del Puerto in Jaen take us back in time millions of years to the era of these giant creatures. This paleontological site is considered a natural monument and a curious visit for lovers of the environment and history. Here, one can find 24 tracks of up to nine inches deep, made by bipedal dinosaurs from the Triassic Period. Further, the fossilised remains of pollen and vegetation reveal a starkly different environment compared to today, including a warmer climate with conifers, palms and ferns growing throughout.
6. The Encina Of The Meadow Of San Francisco
In the southeast part of the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park in Huelva, one can find the Encina, or Oak, of the Meadow of San Francisco. This specimen is notable for its size and long life at around 600 years old. The trunk’s thickness is impressive, as well as its reach, providing immense amounts of delightful shade on hot summer afternoons. Its acorns also provide high energy food, which is reserved to feed the local Iberian pig. If you are passing through Huelva, don’t miss out on the chance to see this stunning sight.
7. The Tómbolo Of Trafalgar
The Tómbolo of Trafalgar provides a beautiful landscape by the sea. Situated near Cadiz’s Canos de Meca, this stunning natural monument’s rocky area gives way to sandy beaches and is home to a lighthouse that provides unbeatable panoramic views. It is also the only example of a double Tombolo in Andalucia – a small island-like landmass, attached to the mainland by a narrow spit, creating a depression that is often flooded by rain and silted materials. The sea winds have helped create dunes on the south end of the island, helping with their fossilisation.
8. The Bologna Dune
The Bologna Dune is over 30 metres high and 200 wide and is considered a Natural Monument. If you find yourself travelling to the province in search of white sand beaches and crystal clear water, this nationally known location is the right place to look. The area is surrounded by cliffs and exotic vegetation, including Andalucian varieties like juniper, creeping juniper and camarina. If you are looking for a place to disconnect with the world and immerse yourself in a beautiful natural environment, this is a place you cannot miss out on in 2014.
9. Encina de Los Perros
Sevilla is home to the Encina de Los Perros – a natural monument known particularly for its giant size. The oak tree’s trunk of the tree alone reaches 8 metres and its top is so large that it is capable of projecting up to 600 square feet of shade – more than suitable for providing a perfect spot for a pleasant summer siesta. The oak tree has also acquired a deep sentimental value for residents of the surrounding area, as it was once a meeting place for those in love and often the site of their marriage.
10. Anchovy Point
This natural monument is just one more example of the complex formation of the Cadiz coast. The site provides a point of unspoilt beauty where the river and sea come together in a balanced way, with a spit formed by a number of geological episodes. In terms of wildlife, birds take centre stage, as the point provides an ideal place to eat or rest during their migration. If you decide to stop and visit the area, you may have the chance to get in touch with them.
Take note of the tips we’ve provided and don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit these stunning natural monuments in Andalucia, which provide a superb plan for your first break of 2014. Ancient trees and pristine beaches come together to create an unparalleled list of natural wonders that make up Southern Spain.