Biosphere Reserve. Andalusian Nature Reserve



General information


Expanse : 51.695 Ha

Towns :

Prov. of Málaga : Benaoján, Cortes de la Frontera, Jimera de Líbar, Montejaque y Ronda.

Prov. of Cádiz : El Gastor, Benaocaz, El Bosque, Grazalema, Prado del Rey, Ubrique, Villaluenga del Rosario y Zahara de la Sierra.

Information :

Oficina del Parque 

Avda. de la Diputación s/n

El Bosque (Cádiz) 

TFNO: 956 72 70 29



Declared as Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO, the mountain range of Grazalema offers an spectacular view of reliefs over limestone rocks, as a result of its violent geological history: valleys forming gorges, caves, edges and gullies, ... and a great number of nature forms created by the disolution processes happened at ancient geological times.

The Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema is located between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga, with an extension of 51.695 Ha. at the most occidental side of the Betican Mountain Range. It was a border zone during the age of the Arab Kingdom of Granada and the Christian Kingdom of Castilla durign the 13th and 14th century, and a place of several fights between both kingdoms.This is the origin of a place where a very concentrate population lives, where the villages are located on the top of mountains and at the hills' sides, being part of the landscape. This awesome cultural frame, typical of lots of civilizations living at the mountain range's belt surrounding the Mediterranean, exists nowadays despite of the centuries.

A total number of 13 towns are included at the Park's area, bigger or smaller, being its name: Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Villaluenga del Rosario, Benaocaz, Ubrique, El Bosque, Prado del Rey and el Gastor at the province of Cadiz and Benaoján, Montejaque, Cortes de la Frontera, Jimena de Líbar and Ronda at the province of Malaga. 

This Mountain Range of the province of Cadiz has got a height between 600 and 1600 m. over its valleys and surrounding depressions. It is an area of wild reliefs, with valleys formed by vertical natural walls like the"Garganta Verde" (Green Gorge), whose depth arrives to the 400 m. It is also common to find several caves, like the ones found at the"Complex Hundidero-Gato", the biggest cave of Andalusia, or the"Cueva de la Pileta", known word wide by its prehistoric rests.

Despite the men's presence since ancient times, the mountain range still conservs an important vegetation, consistint basically of Mediterranean species: holm oaks, cork oaks, gall oaks, wild olives and carob trees. At the shady place of the Sierra del Pinar is located a wonderful forest of Spanish firs, the best converved of this kind of fir tree, which can be only seen at the Serranía de Ronda.

Next to this place there can be seen little forests or separate trees of this ancient specie, which shows its ancient extension. The visit to the Spanish Fir forest, as well to other areas of the Park' s Natural Reserve, can be only done at specific dates and with limitation to the visitor's number. Sometimes is also obligatory to make the trip with a guide.

Elms, willows and poplars are the main species of this typical forest which follow the rivers and streams' courses, like the one that can be seen at the highest part of the El Bosque (the forest) river's course. All that natural species, with a total amount of 90, can be seen at the Botanic Garden of El Bosque, whcih offers two different ways to visit.

Lots of bird's species live at the Parque. But, due to its size and to its majestic way of flying, the ones we will pay attention to will be specially the birds of prey and the carrion's birds. Among them, the most important is the vulture, living at the park one of its biggest colonies at Europe.

Although the most important cultural heritage comes from the Arab age, there can be seen lots of Roman rests, as ancestors of the current cities: «Iptuci» (Prado del Rey), «Ocuri» (Ubnque), «Acinipio» (Ronda),...Also several traditions as well as ways of working have arrived to our days almost complete and without modifications. Among the old craftwork traditions is remarkable the wool blankets at Grazalema (where also ponchos and scarfs made of this material can buyed). The leather work and leather made clothing are typical of Ubrique, Prado del Rey and Cortes de la Frontera. At the last mentioned town are also important the cork work, the leather bags and wallets, the umbrellas and roofs made of heather, the arab ceramics and the copper work. An original craftwork is the "gaita gastoreña", a kind of bagpipe made of a corn's horn, typical of El Gastor. The work of bags, sparto grass and honey are also important economic resources.

The region's gastronomy is also an important cultural treasure.Generally speaking, at all these villages can be tasted the homemade cold cuts. The «soup of Villaluenga» is specially tasteful at winter time. At Benaocaz the «suspiros» (sighs), delicious sweets cooked at the oven and the popular bread soups. It is also very popular the sweets cooked at Grazalema, where the bitter sweets of almonds are made, as well as the litle cubes and the typical soup of Grazalema. The hot punch of Montejaque y and the grape juice of Prado del Rey are the most popular drinks of the area. Other typical products are the cake made of cold cuts, sheep's cheese, etc.

The legacy of ancient times can be also seen at the traditional Fairs and Festivals, celebrated specially during the summer time. At Zahara de la Sierra, streets and squares are decorated with different kind of river's vegetacion during its main festivity: The Corpus Christy celebration. The tied bullfight, typical of Grazalema, Villaluenga and Benaocaz, is celebrated at the month of august. At Ubrique at may, 3rd, takes place «la quema de gamones» (asphodel's burning). At this festive day, the people of Ubrique burn asphodels making it explode.

One of the most popular and famous Festivals takes place at Benamahoma: the fights between «Arabs and Christians», in memory of the ancient battles which took place between this two races.