Recently I visited Huesca, a region in the north of Spain I had never been to. It is on the border with France by the Pyrenees and since I thought summer was a nice time to know it, mainly because of the nice and fresh weather so I could escape from the high temperatures in Madrid, I went there two weeks ago with a friend and her teenager daughter. In five days we had time to visit several lovely medieval villages like Ainsa, Torla or Broto, a village very well known because famous skiing celebrations are held there: Jaca and we visited as well the capital, Huesca. But what we liked most overall was the Ordesa National Park, it is in the Pyrenees and it is amazing and awesome.
Ordesa is a spectacular glaciated limestone site in the Aragonese Pyrenees, which together with the Picos de Europa is the oldest nature reserve in Spain (1918). The reserve comprises of four valleys: Ordesa, Añisclo, Escuain, and Pineta. Monte Perdido stands at 3,335 m, the third highest peak in the Pyrenees. It has been included since 1997 by UNESCO in the Biosphere Reserve of Ordesa-Viñamala. In the same year it was included in the cross-border Pyrénées - Mont Perdu World Heritage Site.
The National Park constitutes a geographic unit. Its orography is dominated by the calcareous massif — the biggest in Europe — of the Three Sisters, whose greatest elevation is Monte Perdido, from which in a more or less radial form descend a series of mountainous crests and glacial valleys. The most important valley is the Ordesa Valley, which is drained by the Arazas River in a southwesterly direction; it was the original area of the National Park.
Most of the rock of the National Park is limestone. Superimposed on the most evident and old glacial erosion is the karstic transformation of the landscape, with multiple caves, canyons, chasms, etc.
The highest areas at elevations above 2,000 m are extremely arid. All precipitation is quickly drained inside the karstic system. By contrast, the bottoms of the valleys are dominated by a lush vegetation of beeches and firs that give way to European black pine at higher elevations.
The Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park and the Viñamala Hunting Reserve: consists of the Ordesa Valley, a canyon with vertical walls, being the result of successive glaciations during the Quaternary period, and the valley of the Arazas River, confluent with the Ara River, with a large number of waterfalls. The massif of Monte Perdido and the heads of the valleys of Ordesa, Añisclo, Escuain, and Pineta are also included in the Park. Viñamala is mountainous with an imposing massif subsequently modified by glacial action. It is covered with distinct types of woodlands, from mixed woodland with Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) to Black pine (Pinus uncinata) woodland in the highland meadows. Sanctuary for wild animals 32 different species of mammals, 65 of birds, 8 of reptiles, 3 of fish and six of amphibians ( pyrenean chamois, marmot, lammergeyer, stoat, Pyrenean lizard, Pyrenean frog, brown trout ).
The Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum),
is one of the symbols of the National Park.
The most important species of the Park was the bucardo or Pyrenean Ibex, which unfortunately became extinct in January 2000 in spite of the preservation efforts. The Pyrenean Chamois is a type of goat. There are other species such as the marmot, boar and the Pyrenean Desman or water-mole and great birds like the golden eagle, the griffon vulture, hawks, and the royal owl.
Related to Monte Perdido, the Lost Mountain, (3355m) is the third highest peak in the Pyrenees but until the early 19th century it was thought that to be the highest. It does, however, boast the highest waterfall (400m) in Europe and the second largest glacier in the Pyrenees and this mountain is home to many legends, perhaps the most evocative of which is this one:
A palace was built at the beginning of time by the mythical Enchanter of the Peaks, Atland, who put a spell on the palace so that only certain people could enter it. Polished walls and towers protected it and hid behind them vast gardens and meadows that were like an earthly paradise. The palace is still bound by Atland’s spell and can only be entered if you are riding on the back of a flying horse.
And now I invite you to travel to Ordesa watching some more of the photos I took in the trip I made there two weeks ago. Firstly there are some taken when we hiked up in a 4x4 tour. I hope you enjoy them!
And these photos were taken when we were walking down the valley in the evening:
Ordesa National Park is also called "The Pyrenees Paradise"......
and I think this is a real truth, don't you think so?