Sierra de Gredos, nature and stars

La Sierra de Gredos It is in Spain, it is spread over several provinces and part of it is declared regional park. It is a place of great natural beauty, landscapes with lakes, cliffs, cañoñes and cirques that have been taking shape over the centuries and centuries.

It is an area of outdoor sports, ideal for mountaineering, cycling or climbing but also, just one hour from Madrid, provides the best celestial scenery for gaze at the stars.

The Sierra de Gredos

Its geological constitution tells us about granite rocks, that is, rocks that were formed through the slow confrontation and subsequent crystallization of magma layers. Later, 42 million centuries of erosion would do the rest and thus the current elevations that make up the so-called Central Sistem.

The Sierra de Gredos, for its part, is characterized by huge elevated blocks but also by huge sunken blocks that form wonderful trenches. There are three sectors: the eastern, the central and the occidental. Inside there are lagoons and a very rich and varied fauna and flora.

El Sierra de Gredos Regional Park It is an area that is in the south of the province of Ávila, within the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. Has around 86 hectares and just over 21 million people live here. There are a large number of municipalities and many population centers.

It is a park full of vegetation: there are willows, black poplars, junipers, rockrose, rebollos, pines and chestnut trees, as well as bushes of various species.

Visit the Sierra de Gredos

El Access point to the regional park is the so-called Gredos Platform. It is a parking lot located at about 1750 meters of altitude, the end point of the old platform of Gredos road, current AV-931.

The two destinations that a visitor cannot miss here is the Gredos circus and Gredos Lagoon, so let's quickly see what it's all about. El Circo is an area of ​​glacial origin, within the province of Ávila. It is the largest circus in the Central System since it has an area of ​​more or less 33 hectáreas. But do we know what a glacial circus is?

It is simply a depression in the ground that is shaped like an amphitheater. It is the product of the glacial erosion that has been modifying the walls of the mountains or the birth of the valleys. It is that part of the compact glacier that is moving and in this way, in that movement, it erodes the terrain and in this case it does so in a semicircular way. Hence the term «glacier circus«.

Inside, a glacier cirque may have a lagoon that is the ancient site where the original glacier rested. In the Circo de Gredos, there is the so-called Laguna Grande de Gredos, about 1940 meters high. It is known that the glacier that was here must have been the largest in the entire sierra. The visit is done following a route that takes you directly to the center of the circus and the best time of year to walk it is summer.

The route begins right at the Gredos Platform of which we spoke before, at an altitude of 1770 meters, and through meadows and landscapes the route heads south and reaches the Laguna Grande de Gredos and the small refuge that is built next to it. , the Elola shelter, and which is six and a half kilometers away. Local folklore says that the lagoon, deep, is a hole that reaches the very center of the Earth and also that in its waters lives a woman who disappeared long ago from the region ...

We talk before Almanzor Peak and we must say before we forget, that It is the highest peak in the Sierra de Gredos and the Central System. You have 2591 meters and is considered a ultraprominent peak, that is to say that it is more than 1500 meters high, of prominence. It has very little erosion, it is made of granite, it is part of the Circo de Gredos and its name derives from a regional leader in times of the Muslim occupation.

This peak was climbed for the first time in 1899. The cross on the top was placed in 1960 and your promotion, nowadays, is only advised if you know what you are doing. The main route is through the Laguna Grande de Gredos and its refuge, but there is another that is less used and part of the town El Raso.

Why did we say at the beginning of the article that the Sierra de Gredos is a destination to gaze at the stars? Because in 2013 the northern zone acquired the certification as Starlight Tourist Destination: that is, it has a dark sky with a radius of 900 square kilometers.

A Starlight Reserve is an area that is geographically defined and recognized by the foundation of the same name that operates within a program endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and the UNESCO. Whenever this valuable recognition is requested, a commitment is acquired that goes through defending the night sky quality avoiding any light pollution.

Well, the Sierra de Gredos Regional Park is such a beautiful space, a special place to feel part of the universe and enjoy the best astronomical observation. Thus, there is part of the tourism that in addition to visiting some towns and enjoying their rural and picturesque accommodation or doing gastronomic walks or mountain sports, what they do is astronomy tourism. What do you think?

Practical information about the Sierra de Gredos and the regional park:

  • Surface: 86.236 hectares.
  • Location: Castillo and León, province of Ávila.
  • Favorite areas: Pico Almanzor, Laguna Grande, Circo de Gredos.
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