Not far north of the Sierra Nevada mountains within the national Province of Jaen, lies Europe's second largest National Park, the Mountains of the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. With its peaks rising to above 2000 metres the range itself provides a refreshing change to the typical mediterranean landscape with endless pine forest extending as far as the eye can see, rivers, waterfalls and dams for all to enjoy.
The attractive & historic town of Cazorla opens the gateway to these mountains whilst in itself providing ample interest to the inland traveller. Backed by sheer jagged peaks with pine forest gripping in precariously, the approach to the Town is, in itself, worth the experience.
Travellers come here primarily looking for rural retreats, local culture, hiking, mountain biking and mountain adventure activities.
Lined with randomly winding, steep narrow cobbled streets, the town of Cazorla is a great start to getting the feel of the area.
Here you will find welcoming friendly people, abundant examples of the times gone by in the "Casco Antiguo" and plenty of shops within the newer more commercial area. Here the pace of life is very much laid back and "chilled out", even by Andalucian standards!!
Tracks lead from some of the upper streets up and out into the mountains backing the town making for some very interesting, easy and convenient walks without even needing to drive anywhere! Above the town lies the pretty village of La Iruela with its impressive castle and amphi-theatre perched on a rock above in true Andaluz fashion. The village is one of the gateways into the National Park and to one of the most popular sites, El Chorro, a huge rock circle with its walls plummetting well over 100 metres. It is here where the traveller can view the nest settlement of the Leonardo Vultures and perhaps the most spectacular not to mention prolonged sunsets every dreamed of.
The main gateway to the National Park, is located some 8 kilometres on from Cazorla at the village of Burunchel. From here the road winds up and up to 1260 metres above sea level and the mountain pass of "Puerto de las Palomas". From this point on a new world can be explored, you will need many days to just scratch the surface. The Park is riddled with an infinite number of forest tracks and trails suitable for both walking and mountain biking. Ordnance Survey Maps can be purchased in Cazorla for more detailled routes.
The National Park is source to one of Spains principal rivers, the Guadalquivir. Winding down through the gorges and valleys of the range, the river extends all the way across Andalucia to Seville and then from there Southwards opening out to the Atlantic at Sanlucar de Barrameda. It is a primary source of water for many provinces of the south.
In spite of its southerly location the Mountains of Cazorla create a very special micro-climate resulting in cool mornings and evenings allowing for a pleasant recovery from the midday heat during the summer months. Cazorla itself lies at an altitude of around 900 metres above sea level. During the winter, it is not uncommon to find snow covering the peaks and, on occasions, down to even the town of Cazorla itself.
Rural Tourism Mountains Activities and Spiritual retreats are the prime alternative industry here whilst the traveller cannot avoid being stunned by the endless rolling hills covered in Olive groves. Indeed the province of Jaén, in which it lies, is Spains primary provider of Olive oil.