As I mentioned earlier in my first blog and also in my book An English Lady in Cordova – the Alternative Guide (https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect), after having lived quite a few years in Cordova, I soon hungered after the open green spaces. I was used to the greenness of Richmond Park — going on long walks and collecting chestnuts and Boletus mushrooms in autumn, and pressing the curling fronds of fern leaves of different hues as each colour marked a different point in the year: fresh springtime green, summer yellow, autumnal burnished orange, golden and bronze… I was sure that the deer and squirrels were my friends, and I even had names for those regular stalkers. And if it weren’t the verdant sylvan palette of Charles I’s 17th century deer park that I loved, what with its characterful lodges, nature reserves and ponds, then it was the leafy greenness, grassiness and flourishing multicolours of our family garden that was the pride and joy of my parents, and one I used to revel in. So perhaps you can understand why the confines of those dim, narrow, winding cobbled streets of the old Judería Jewish Quarters and the typical patios of Moorish design, suffocated me.
So off we went, with babes in tow, to the patchwork arable pastures, olive plantations and orange groves 25 miles further west along the Guadalquivir Valley plains, at the footslopes of the undulating Sierra Morena. We set up home atop one of these hills, not far from the historic village of Posadas (del Rey) and the castled village of Almodóvar del Río, both situated on the old Camino Califal (the Route of the Caliphs), subsequently called Camino Real (the Royal Road, travelled by King Alfonso XIII) that linked Cordova with Seville.
But enough of my nostalgic ramblings for now (you can read more of this in my book mentioned above) and back to the matter in hand — the Sierrezuela.
This peri-urban park — which has been classed as a Protected Natural Area of Andalusia and also a Site of Community Interest — lies in the hills just above my village of Posadas. The park forms part of the extensive Natural Park and Nature Reserve of Hornachuelos. It is worthy of mention not only because of the richness of fauna and flora, but also because of its historical and ethnological background. Examples of this include the Roman mines, quarries, watering holes, canals, stretches of paved roads, as well as the ancient dolmens pertaining to the Metal Age. There are also great routes for hiking, running and mountain biking and there is a high zip line and adventure zone that stretches from one lofty pine to another. There is an information centre where one can attend talks, go on mushroom, plant and bird-spotting guided walks, and on sultry summer nights, learn all about the constellations. There is also a basket weaving classroom and museum with handmade artisan objects on display (and for sale!). The two bars and restaurant serve great food and there is also an extensive barbeque area with stone benches if you want to go it alone (although you won’t be alone because the locals are a friendly, open, fun-loving gregarious lot!). You can also camp there. But below is a fuller description (for those non-Spanish speakers), borrowed and translated from the council’s pamphlet. (For more information (in Spanish) on the Sierrezuela and Posadas, please go to this link: https://www.posadas.es/ilmo_ayuntamiento/informacion_municipal/medio_ambiente/areas_interes/enp/parque_periurbano_la_sierrezuela_2
A millennial history…
… A tradition of hospitality
The Sierrezuela Periurban Park lies within the municipal finca of La Sierrezuela, situated to the north of Posadas village. It is easily accessed via the A-431 main road and Posadas train station and coach stops. The park is of great ecological importance and is included in the Network of Nature Protection Areas of Andalusia as well as the Natura 2000 Network (European Network of Special Areas of Conservation). The Sierrezuela is located in the Sierra Morena hills, also spilling over into the Guadalquivir Valley and agricultural lowlands – La Vega del Guadalquivir. This beautiful nature reserve is prized for its environmental, historical, cultural and ethnological richness.
The park has a total of 378 hectares of which a small part has been developed for touristic, educational and recreational activity. The main area has been equipped with parking lots and a restaurant/bar with a terrace offering panoramic views. There are also showers, toilets, an equestrian area, fountains and picnic areas with stone barbeques, tables and benches. Close by is an Interpretation and Environmental Education Centre (Centro de Interpretación y Educación Ambiental)which includes an exhibition of traditional wickerwork pieces made from olive branches. Close to this centre is an excellent adventure park which spreads over more than 15,000 m2. There are 70 high-level challenges, tall totem poles and platforms in lofty trees, circuits of varying difficulty, a giant, double zip-line of over 240 metres and a Chill Out zone.
WALKING ROUTES IN THE Sierrezuela
The SierrezuelaPark and surrounding areas offer the perfect location for leisure, sport activities and outdoor fun. The visitor can appreciate and learn about the environment and discover the history of this privileged, natural area. The variety of walking routes allows us to travel back to prehistory, to visit one of the best Roman quarries of Andalusia, to walk through one of the largest, natural palm groves within Cordova province and to trek along the international Route GR-48 ‘De Sierra Morena’ that stretches from the Portuguese border to Jaen.
RUTA DE LOS DÓLMENES – DOLMEN ROUTE
This route starts from the parking lot in the Sierrezuela Park and leads towards the north. The outcrop of dolmens consists of two megalithic graves of prehistoric age made up of large, flat stones. Human remains accompanied by funerary artefacts of at least 4500 years old have been found there, dating the site to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Age. This is the oldest site closest to Cordova and the only dolmen outcrop within the province of Cordova at such close proximity to the Guadalquivir River.
Distance: 2.2 km – 1.4 miles (return)
RUTA DE LA SIERREZUELA – SIERREZUELA ROUTE
Along this track one can observe the great biodiversity that exists in the monte mediterráneo (Mediterranean hills), not only in the way of faunal species — represented by the variety of birds, or the footprints, tracks and traces left by mammals — but also by the richness in flora and fungi. This route is also a sports circuit: there are six workout apparatus (pull-up, push-up bars, inclined ramps) and twenty stops, all signalled and marked on a board indicating the type of exercise that can be carried out, with three levels of difficulty.
Distance: 4 km – 2.5 miles (circular walk)
RUTA DE PATERNA – PATERNA ROUTE
The Ruta de Paterna (Monumental Route)is a historical route and passes by important, ancient monuments. This track, which is close to Posadas, stretches from the Sierra Morena to the Guadalquivir Valley and lies on the west flank of the Sierrezuela. The route starts at the crossroads of Camino Bajo and Camino de Paterna in Hornachuelos. Along the route there is the water source, Pilar dePaterna, which serves as a fountain and water hole, and also a stone quarry, Cantera Honda. The Pilar de Paternais one of the most valuable fountains in the province,forming an important part of the area’s rich, historical heritage. It was catalogued in the Inventario de Fuentes de la Provincia de Córdoba (Inventory of Fountains of Cordova Province). The construction of the fountain dates back to probably the Late Middle Ages. The quarry, Cantera Honda, appeared in an article published in 1928 by Antonio Carbonell Trillo-Figueroa and was possibly associated with the oil industry that was predominant in the Guadalquivir Valley from 1AD to 3 AD, during which time the oil was exported to different locations within the Roman Empire.
Distance: 4.86 km – 3 miles (linear walk)
SENDERO GR-48 – FOOTPATH GR-48 The GR-48 Sendero de Sierra Morena(Sierra Morena Footpath) spans the provinces of Huelva, Seville, Cordova and Jaen, starting in the locality of Barrancos in Portugal. This track consists of thirty sections, covers a total of 590 km (367 miles) with more than 180 km (112 miles) in Cordova province and also enters the locality of Hornachuelos. The footpath crosses Posadas at two stages (the 14th and 15th), passing the first via the southern skirt of the municipal fincas, Rozas del Pozuelo and Sierrezuela.
USEFUL INFORMATION / TELEPHONE NUMBERS: Town hall: 957 63 00 13 ; Tourist office: 957 63 0378
And here are some photos…
And last but not least — my vegetable patch. So far there doesn’t seem to be too much action from the peas, runner beans spinach and Swiss chard seeds, but it does seem like the weeds are fast gaining ground…. Will keep you updated!