VILLUERCAS-IBORES-JARA GEOPARK (Spain)
The Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark is located in the south-east of the province of Cáceres (in Extremadura, Spain). It is a mountainous massif that covers 2,544 km2 of nineteen municipalities. Near 15,000 people live in this area.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
The beauty of this unique landform is characterized by structurally-controlled morphological features responsible for the intensely folded and fractured landscape. The Geopark preserves a series of parallel ridge-and-valley systems aligned in a northwest-southeast direction with rocks covering a very broad period of geological time with the oldest rocks in Europe dating from the Ediacaran, Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian periods - between 650 and 400 million years (Ma) ago. Younger rocks that formed 20 to 1.8 Ma ago are also present.
Forty-four geosites have been cataloged as ridges, hills and mountains, faults, river valleys, places with special geomorphological features such as synclines and anticlines, mines, and paleontological deposits. Paleontological deposits are important to explain the great event in evolution known as the “Biotic Explosion of the Cambrian”, 540 Ma ago. Many of the geosites are also of cultural interest, having shelters and cave paintings. The cave of Castañar de Ibor has been declared a natural monument due to its impressive aragonite crystal formation, since Aragonite only forms in specific conditions of pressure and temperature.
The Geopark is also extraordinarily rich in natural heritage including protected birds, biodiversity corridors, monumental trees, and Biosphere Reserves, with emblematic species such as the abundant cranes and raptors linked to the quartzite outcrops of the sierras: griffon, black and Egyptian vultures, black storks, eagle owls and golden eagles.
These elements are complimented by a long history of mining and an associated culture with a tradition of decorated menhir stones, or monoliths, remnants from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Likewise, there are many cultural sites from Roman times and the Middle Ages. One of the most striking aspects of the Sierras de las Villuercas is the high concentration of archaeological sites. These sites confirm the continuous presence of humans from the earliest times of homo sapiens to the present day.
The Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, declared a World Heritage site since 1993, is also located within the Geopark.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States