Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park
In the west of the province of Córdoba lies the Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park, one of the most important green areas of Córdoba. It is part of the Sierra Morena Mountains, the vast 400,000 ha Unesco Biosphere Reserve and the Natural Parks of the adjacent Parque Natural Sierra Norte de Sevilla (Province of Seville) and the Sierra de Aracena and Natural Park Picos de Aroche (Huelva).
The territory extends over 60,032 ha of which 95% of the region is forested, mainly with cork and holm oak dehesas (areas of mixed forest and grassland). It is home to one of the best-preserved Mediterranean forests and ecosystem banks in the Sierra Morena. With an abundance of big animals (deer and deer), the park has a long tradition as a game reserve.
Monasterio Santa María de Los Ángeles
a monastery built-in 1489 (10 km northeast of Hornachuelos, and accessible via the Bembézar hiking trail, see below) is worth a visit for its dramatic position on the steep slope overlooking the Bembézar River. The beauty of this landscape attracted saints, those seeking tranquillity and inspired romantic kings and poets. The scenery is best described in the famous work of the Duke of Rivas, “Don Álvaro y la Fuerza del Sino.”
Fauna – largest colonies of Andalusian vultures
In addition to beautiful scenery, the park has many birds of prey, including golden, eagles, buzzards, kestrels and hawks. It has one of the largest colonies of Andalusian vultures, with about 100 pairs, and one of the significant black vulture populations of the Sierra’s Morena, with 50 pairs. The park’s three reservoirs – Bembézar, Breña and Retortillo – are popular with numerous large cormorants in winter. Other more shy animals you can see include the otter, the Egyptian mongoose, the deer, and the boar.
Almodóvar del Río – one of the most beautiful castles in Andalusia
On the highest hill is one of the most beautiful villas in Andalusia. You can already see the contours of the castle from far and wide and dominate the village and the surrounding area. You reach the castle via a narrow winding road. The place Almodóvar, ‘the round’, is a reference to the hill on which the castle is built.
Originally a Roman fortress, the castle became imperative under the rule of the emirate of Córdoba. Pedro de I later rearmed the fort to preserve his treasures and, according to tradition, sent over a huge black spider from Africa to deter intruders. Centuries later, the castle became the property of the Order of Santiago.
The castle in its current form dates from the 20th century after a thorough renovation of 36 years. The castle has nine towers, the onion-shaped of which has a beautiful view of the river. The central tower has three floors, the top one in Mudejar style. The ground floor was used as a prison for centuries. At the foot of the castle, the white houses of Almodóvar del Río stretch, with the Baroque Church of the Immaculate Conception, the 18th-century town hall and the chapel of the Virgin with the Rosary with a beautiful Baroque facade.