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Granada Geopark during European Geopark Week

in Galera Municipality in Granada Province, Andalucia, Spain
By Nick Nutter | 25 May 2021
Castellon Alto

Where else can you see the most complete set of fossil remains of the largest mammals to roam Europe during the last 2.5 million years? Nearby is one of Europe’s largest megalithic dolmen sites and an ancient travertine aqueduct. Towns dating back to the Iberian period and villages that have been occupied since the Neolithic dot the landscape that is largely made up of Badlands, a vast depression eroded by rivers and streams during the last 2 million years. This is the Granada Geopark.

European Geopark Week

From Wednesday 26th May until the 6th June 2021 it is European Geopark week, an annual event to encourage people to appreciate and enjoy the unique features of all the 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries. The event is now in its sixth year and for the first time, Granada Geopark is taking part.

Granada Geopark

The Granada Geopark covers nearly 5,000 sq kilometres and comprises the Guadix and Baza depressions, an area that 5 million years ago was one huge lake that drained into the Atlantic Ocean. Now the depressions are surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the Iberian Peninsula, (Macizo Prebético and Sierra de la Sagra [2381 m], Sierra Mágina [2187 m], Sierra de Arana-Huétor [1940 m], Sierra Nevada [3484 m], Sierra de Baza-Filabres [2271 m], Sierra de las Estancias-Cúllar [1471 m] and Sierra de Orce-María [1612 m]).

The arid, rugged Badlands in the centre of these mountains, that includes canyons up to 250 metres deep, was formed when Lake Baza drained away. The fluvial terraces of the main rivers formed alluvial plains that are known as vegas.

Humans arrived on the scene whilst the area was a little less arid than today and rapidly occupied the fertile river valleys and the terraces at each side of the valleys. Wild animals were abundant for the hunter gatherers and the terraces later proved ideal for the Neolithic people. They were responsible for the dolmens at Gorafe. One of Spain’s first societies, the El Argar, evolved from those neolithic farmers and built their characteristic settlements on high outcrops of rock, such as the one at Galera called Castellon Alto. They were succeeded by Iberians and then the Romans, all of whom left their mark.

During European Geopark week activities are organised throughout the Granada Geopark area in the municipalities of Guadix, Baza, Huéscar and Montes.

Guided tour of the Mina de Yeso del Castellon Alto de Galera

Julie and I are looking forward to an activity organised by on the evening of Saturday 29th May. The activity is a guided tour of the Mina de Yeso del Castellon Alto de Galera. Castellon de Alto de Galera is an important archaeological site, its Argar history well recorded, what is less well known is the spectacular gypsum mine on which it stands or the geological and geomorphological reasons for its being in that enclave.

The tour will be conducted by professionals from three fields: official tourist guide, archaeologist and geologist who will, hopefully, integrate the geological, geomorphological and archaeological aspects of the site.

Geoparks in Andalucia

Of the 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks worldwide, 15 are in Spain. Andalucia has four Geoparks:
Cabo de Gata-Níjar
Sierra Norte de Sevilla
Sierras Subbéticas

For further information about this and other activities in the Granada Geopark

Go to Explore Granada Province
Return to Granada Geopark travel guide

More in the Granada Geopark travel guide

Geoparque Granada | Basti, an Iberian Roman fortified town and Necropolis
Geoparque Granada | Guide to Baza a town of National Historic Interest
Geoparque Granada | Castellón Alto - visit an Argaric settlement
Geoparque Granada | Guide to Galera a village on the Altiplano of Granada
Geoparque Granada | Guide to the mountain village of Gor
Geoparque Granada | Guide to Gorafe - centre for the Interpretation of Megalithism
Geoparque Granada | Guide to the town of Guadix
Do Not Forget Your Compass and Whistle
Geoparque Granada | Las Angosturas de Gor a Copper Age settlement
Geoparque Granada | Guide to the Megalithic Dolmens of the River Gor
Geoparque Granada | Guide to Orce village, home of the first hominids in Europe
Geoparque Granada | Paleontological Centre of Interpretation in the Valley of the Rio Fardes
Geoparque Granada | A Walk Along the Toril Aqueduct
Geoparque Granada | Tútugi Iberian Necropolis
Geoparque Granada | Walk to the Petroglyphs

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Find Granada Geopark Week on the map

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