Learn Spanish » Spanish Culture Blog » Sierra de Guadarrama National Park
As the fifth largest national park in Spain, the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park enjoys a fantastic central location near Madrid and tourists flock to the area to enjoy the cooler temperatures and stunning views on offer. There are over 1500 different types of plant, and 45% of all animal species in Spain can be found in this national park, making it an incredibly diverse and impressive area of flora and fauna.
- The Guadarrama National Park is home to eleven varying ecosystems, including the only designated area of “high Mediterranean mountains” in Spain
- Guadarrama is particularly popular with people wishing to escape the bustle of Madrid, who want to go hiking as it is home to numerous routes taking in the beautiful scenery and countryside
It took some time for the Guadarrama National Park to obtain its national park status. The first attempt was postponed in 1920 and was not revitalized until the start of the 21st Century. In the meantime however, several areas were designated protected sites: El Escorial was named a World Heritage Site, the Peñalara mountain area (which has the highest peak in the park at 2430m above sea level) was named as a National Park and the regional park by the Manzanares River basin was designated as a biosphere reserve. It was not until 2010 that the Guadarrama National Park was officially named, and today sits across parts of Castile and Leon (in the provinces of Avila and Segovia) and the Community of Madrid. The law for the implication and naming of the National Park was finally passed in June 2013.
Another attraction of the Guadarrama area is the abundance of hiking opportunities. There are hundreds of kilometers to walk, with many maps and guides showing routes around the area; from those that stay on lower ground, to those that go right up to the mountainous peaks. At only an hour’s drive away from Madrid, the hiking areas give city dwellers and tourists alike the opportunity to experience nature and enjoy the scenery, while remaining close to the city itself.
The flora and fauna of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is hugely diverse and interesting. Towards the top of the mountains, cattle are grazed on the mountain grass and these cows are used to breed a special form of beef that is unique to the area. Lower down, species such as Scots pine, Bearberry and Lepiota can be found amongst many other trees, plants and shrubs. As you would expect from a biosphere reserve, the array of fauna is also incredibly large, making up 18% of all the fauna in Europe. There are snakes indigenous to Spain, as well as lizards, deer, various other small mammals, eagles, vultures and herons to name but a few. Most recently the park has been a cause for excitement, as a pack of Eurasian wolves has been seen, having been absent for over 70 years, which highlights the diversity of the area and emphasizes just how important, and impressive, this biosphere is.