The Picos de Europa ("Peaks of Europe", also the Picos) are a mountain range extending for about 20 km (12 mi), forming part of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. The range is situated in the Autonomous Communities of Asturias, Cantabria and Castile and León. The highest peak is Torre de Cerredo, at an elevation of 2650 m (8,690 ft).

Picos de Europa
English: Peaks of Europe
Naranjo de Bulnes (Picu Urriellu) seen from Pozo de la Oración, Cabrales, Asturias.
Highest point
PeakTorre de Cerredo
Elevation2,650 m (8,690 ft)
Coordinates43°11′51″N 04°51′06″W / 43.19750°N 4.85167°W / 43.19750; -4.85167
Area646 km2 (249 sq mi)
EtymologyNamed for Europe
Picos de Europa is located in Spain
Picos de Europa
Location in Northern Spain
RegionIberian Peninsula
Range coordinates43°12′N 4°48′W / 43.200°N 4.800°W / 43.200; -4.800
Parent rangeCantabrian Mountains
Type of rocklimestone

Name edit

A widely accepted origin for the name is that they were the first sight of Europe for ships arriving from the Americas.[1] The name can be traced to Lucio Marineo Sículo, who mentioned the Rupes Europae in 1530. Ambrosio Morales, chronist of Felipe II of Spain, mentions the Montañas de Europa in 1572.[citation needed] Prudencio de Sandoval calls them the Peñas o Sierras de Europa in 1601.[2]

The origin of the name can be also traced back to ancient times when this mountainous region was inhabited by various peoples, including the Cantabri, an ancient Celtic tribe. The Cantabri were known for their resistance against Roman invasions and their rugged way of life in the mountains.[3]

Geography edit

The range consists of three major massifs: Central (also known as Urrieles), Eastern (Ándara) and Western (also known as the Picos de Cornión). The Central and Western massifs are separated by the 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) deep Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares), with the village of Caín at its head. The waters in the Cares mostly arise from cave resurgences. Some of the water in the Cares river is diverted through a hydroelectric scheme, with a canal running in the northern wall of the gorge to Camarmeña.

Almost all of the rock in the Picos is limestone, and glacial action has contributed to create an impressive area of alpine karst. The highest peak is Torre de Cerredo, with an altitude of 2,650 metres at 43°11′51″N 4°51′06″W / 43.19750°N 4.85167°W / 43.19750; -4.85167. Many other peaks reach altitudes of over 2,600 m. The area is popular with mountaineers, climbers and mountain walkers. There is a good network of well-established mountain refuges. The best-known climbing site is the Naranjo de Bulnes or Picu Urriellu, in the Urrieles massif which can be considered the most famous climb in Spain.[citation needed]

Vega de Liordes, an enclave in the León sector of Picos de Europa belonging to the municipality of Posada de Valdeón registered −35.8 °C (−32.4 °F) on January 7, 2021.[4][5]

Nature edit

Cantabrian brown bears (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus) and wolves (Canis lupus signatus) live in the more remote regions. Rebeccos (Cantabrian chamois - Rupicapra pyrenaica parva) are fairly frequently seen (according to a 2006 Ministry of the Environment report, there were around 8,000 sightings that year); choughs and buzzards are common, various eagles and vultures are frequently seen, and there is a diverse butterfly population in the park.

Most of the region is now protected as a single Picos de Europa National Park in Cantabria, Asturias and León provinces of Spain; the Asturian part was Spain's first National Park. Access is via minor roads to each of the three massifs from the north and from the south to the aerial tramway at Fuente Dé and to Caín at the head of the Cares Canyon.

Caves edit

The Picos de Europa contain many of world's deepest caves, including Torca del Cerro (−1589 m), Sima de la Cornisa (−1507 m), Torca los Rebecos (−1255 m) and Pozo del Madejuno (−1252 m). Discovery of new caves and their exploration still continues.

Gastronomy edit

The Picos support a dwindling group of shepherds who move up from the valleys in the summer with their sheep, goats, cows, and an occasional pig. The area is famed for its piquant blue cheeses, such as Cabrales cheese and Picón Tresviso Bejes.

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ Poyato, Cristobal (2013). "Picos de Europa". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  2. ^ Xosé Lluis del Río (2008). «Aproximación a la toponimia de los Picos d'Europa».
  3. ^ "Picos de Europa – An Absolute Hiking Paradise in Spain". Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  4. ^ "Vega de Liordes (León) bate este jueves el récord histórico de temperatura mínima en España con -35,8 grados" [Vega de Liordes (León) beats this Thursday the historical record for the minimum temperature in Spain with -35.8 degrees] (in Spanish). 7 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Spain records coldest ever temperature at minus 35.8 degrees Celsius". Retrieved 12 January 2021.

External links edit