Cuenca Natural Spaces
Is nestled in the Heart of the High Serranía of Cuenca. A variety of animals find shelter in this beautiful valley. The park was founded on 22 October 1964 and named an Experimental Game Preserve. Its principal function was to act as a hunting farm, to elevate the population of such species as deer, fallow deer, mountain goats, roe deer, "muflón," and wild boar.
After 1 July 1966, the park became the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture and Environment of Castilla-La Mancha.
The name "El Hosquillo" comes from the park´s rough, inaccessible terrain, covered by dense vegetation. With an area of 910 hectares, it is the property of The Town Hall of Cuenca.
The park features a variety of ecosystems. Nesting among the high cliffs which enclose the valley are important species of protected birds of prey: royal eagles, pilgrim falcon, "leonado" vulture, royal owl. Other important areas include the abundant pine groves of the Serranía, and the Escabas and Truchas Rivers, home to trout and otter.
The vegetation is another principal component of "El Hosquillo", which features such trees as black pine, "quejigo," boxwood, "aliaga," yew, holly, willow, poplar, and hazel ...
The Spring of the Cuervo River
Near Vega del Codorno, and 80 km from Cuenca, at the edge of the mountains, is one of the region´s most attractive spots. Here the Cuervo River springs from the earth, and its rapid waters spill from high rocks, forming a capricious and beautiful waterfall.
To get to the spring, visitors leaving Cuenca should take the road along the Júcar River Gorge, which enters the Serranía.
Interesting villages and sights line the entrance to the Serranía: Villalba de la Sierra, Uña, Huélamo, and Tragacete. All of these are worth visiting. Some date back to the Medieval Era, and feature original architecture. They are all nestled in strategic locations, and are surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The Spring of the Cuervo River lies 12 kms past Tragacete.
Once there, visitors will enjoy a wide array of amenities along the river, including restaurants, campgrounds, and esplanades. To get to the actual spring, hike along the marked trails, which run parallel to the river, upstream. This route will lead you past the impressive waterfalls. A bit higher up, the trail brings us to the river´s spring. In a silent grotto where the water gushes out of a gap in the side of a rock, we witness the birth of the Cuervo River.
The Enchanted City
The Jucar River forms a huge impressive canyon between Uña and Villalba de la Sierra. It is here, at hearly 5000 ft of altitude, that one of nature's whims fills travellers with astonishment: The Enchanted City, declared a Natural Site of Natural Interest.
These geologic phenomena, known world-wide, are rock formations which are literally sculpted by the activity of water, wind and ice. Throughout the centuries, this erosion has moulded the rocks into human figures, objects, and animals, with near-impossible precision. The result is a crazy complex, a city which seems to have been put to sleep by some mysterious spell.
It is the different ages and composition of the rocks which have made these formations possible. In effect, the upper part of the rocks (the greyish part) is "dolomia" (magnesial limestone poor in lime) and the lower part (the reddish part) is "margosa" limestone, with less magnesium and less resistance to the erosion.
Walking through the Enchanted City, there is an illusion of walking through a colossal, labyrinthine city, with its streets and squares, Roman bridges, gothic doors, monoliths, forests, and even huge ships raised up on their keels. At the entrance, buried up to its shoulders, the head of an enormous giant sticks out of the earth like a permanent sentry. The route is marked and the formations are official, but visitors immediately notice the similarities: The Boats, The Dog, The Sea of Stone, The Elephant...a multitude of surprises courtesy of nature, which delight adults and feed the dreams of children.
The surroundings of The Enchanted City are also magical. The splended vegetation is made up of savin, juniper, boxwood and blackberry...The flocks of sheep graze in the surrounding area breaking the silence with the sound of their bleating, and there is always a perfume in the air of rosemary, thyme and sweet marjoram ....
The Passageways of Las Majadas
The Passageways of Las Majadas share the same origins and a great similarity with The Enchanted City. Nevertheless, the former is much more linear and of smaller proportions, although also very beautiful. There are two possible walking tours. The first tour features The Sentry and the impressive Sea of Stone, as well as a multitude of perfectly-defined figures. In the second tour, the side streets form a sort of small labyrinth of squares, roundabouts, arches and bridges.
It is well worth visiting a natural pavilion, only a few minutes from The Passageways, which is held up by four columns and seems like a giant temple made of only one piece. There is also a stunn.
The processes which formed the torcas are very interesting, since they commenced following the last regression of the Sea of Theis, an ancient Mediterranean sea, whose most Western shore was located in this mountainous zone of Cuenca.
In the Turonense period, about 80 million years ago, the sea began to pull back for good after several successive advances which took place in the Mesozoic era. Starting from that moment, and thanks to a favourable climate and the activity of carbonated water in the soft limestone, the zones of drainage enabled the creation of fractures, called diaclasas, which allowed the earth to collapse.
The Torcas are located in Mount Palancares, very close to the city of Cuenca. They are an incredibly odd collection of sinkholes, which extend from the Torca del Medio Celemin to the Torca del Tio Senas. Its possible to drive as far as the Torca del Agua, the Torca de Torcazo, the Torca de Torquete, and the Torca de la Novia. To access the rest, you must continue on foot. It is especially worth a visit to the Torca del Lobo, without a doubt the most beautiful of the entire collection.
The richness of the soil at the bottom of the Torcas and the favourable conditions of its microclimate, have resulted in an abundance of pines, oaks, hazels, willows, maples, yews, and other kind of trees. Very close to the Torca de la Novia two centenary trees can be found. They are enormous and of magnificent bearing. They are of the species pinus nigra and are very popular among Cuencans, who know them as the grandfather pine and the candelabra.
The Lakes of Cañada
The Lakes of Cañada can be found by following the Forest Road in the direction of Cañada del Hoyo.
Created by the same phenomenon as the torcas, the lakes were formed by the collapse of a sinkhole over a layer of waterproof earth, in such a way that the bed of the torca stays covered with water.
Lake Tejo, beautifully spectacular, changes tone from milky white to the transparency of glass, foretelling the arrival of the strong summer heat. The change is caused by the intense activity of aquatic microorganisms, and by the phenomenon of carbonated rainfall. However, the sinkhole is a watertight compartment, of unknown renewal, so that any exterior waste or pollution may remain for decades, perhaps longer, which makes the damage practically irreversible; for that reason, it is very important to protect these unique lakes, since geologic phenomena of this type are world heritages.
The Gorges of the Cabriel River
The Natural Reserve of the Cabriel River Gorges is found in the direction of Minglanilla, a village near Contreras Reservoir, with beautiful landscapes.
The Gorges feature three types of vegetation: Mediterranean forests, “roquedales” vegetation, and riverbank plants. This diverse area is home to otters, mountain cats, “mustélidos,” mountain goats, eagles, falcons, owls, and many others.