Asturias is the single-province Autonomous Region with the most Biosphere Reserves in Spain: seven. The Picos de Europa National Park, the Eo river, Oscos and Terras de Burón, the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias Natural Park, the Somiedo Natural Park, the Ubiñas-La Mesa Natural Park, the Redes Natural Park and the Ponga Natural Park are the seven sites that make up the Biosphere network of the Principality of Asturias.
Cares Gorge (Cabrales) (Cabrales).
Covering two per cent of the Spanish territory, Asturias is home to almost 1 per cent of all the world's Biosphere Reserves. This is such a significant proportion that it is not surprising that Asturias represents the Natural Paradise par excellence.
Mountains and valleys, high peaks, rivers and streams, waterfalls, forests, canals, springs, caves, coastline and beaches, cliffs, villages and towns... The landscape and country folk take on a thousand forms in Asturias, and they are all a living expression of a region that loves and treasures its natural beauty, and is aware of the immense cultural and environmental value of such richness.
An in-depth tour of the 7 Asturian Biosphere Reserves is a journey in constant communion with nature which is always refreshing, healthy and rewarding.
Cuadonga/Covadonga Lakes (Cangas de Onís).
The Picos de Europa National Park was the first in Spain and one of the first in the world, when it was declared the Cuadonga/Covadonga Mountain National Park in 1918. It is also one of the largest and most popular in Spain. It is home to the founding landmark of the Kingdom of Asturias, Cuadonga/Covadonga, as well as world climbing hotspots such as the Picu Urriellu or Naranjo de Bulnes, and the Torrecerredo, which with an altitude of 2,648 metres is one of the highest peaks on the Cantabrian coast. In addition, it is the origin of cheeses of international renown such as Cabrales or Gamonéu.
Pico Peñamellera from the lookout of Alevia (Peñamellera Baja).
The Eo river, Oscos and Terras de Burón Biosphere Reserve is a site that stands out especially for the excellent condition of some of the ancient water mills, as well as the remarkable preservation of ethnographic assets, the history of the countryside and ancestral activities: the handicraft, the shellfish gathering in the Eo estuary and sea fishing. The Oscos are a harmonious balance between the landscape and its inhabitants, where the life of the "ferreiros" (blacksmiths) and their heritage are still very evident, and where the nature trails linked to water - in the form of rivers, waterfalls or mills - are one of the greatest attractions.
The Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias Natural Park is home to the Muniellos forest, the largest white oak grove in Europe. However, although Muniellos is the main attraction, the rest of the Reserve is also spectacular with its rugged terrain and woodland, and with the basins of the Narcea and Ibias rivers forming landscapes with deep valleys and high mountains. An area of vineyards, cortinos (constructions to protect the beehives from the brown bear), corripas (constructions for the storage of chestnuts) and cunqueiros (wooden bowls), and the territory of the brown bear, this Park is an area with its own unique identity.
The Somiedo Natural Park is well known for its brañas (high pasturelands) and lakes. The large differences in altitude in this area led to transhumance agriculture, a system whereby farmers moved crops and livestock from the valleys in winter to the high mountains in summer. This is how the brañas (high pastures), with their cabanas de teito (thatched crofts) and corros de piedra (stone enclosures) originated. In these highland brañas, the vaqueiros de alzada (highland cowherds) spent the summer with their cattle. Somiedo has well-known brañas such as La Pornacal and emblematic lakes, such as Lago del Valle. These two landmarks are crucial to discovering the essence of the Somiedo Natural Park.
The Ubiñas-La Mesa Natural Park stands out for its contrasts and variety of landscapes. It has picturesque villages such as Bermiego, perched on a hillside, with a legendary and ancient yew tree; with gorges such as the one formed by the river Val de Sampedro in the area of Cueva Huerta, which is the largest cave as yet discovered in Asturias. And there are also spectacular waterfalls such as the Xiblu, and beech forests such as Montegrande and Valgrande. The Teverga Prehistoric Park, the Quirós Ethnographic Museum, and the Agüeria Pass are some of the unique attractions of an area where wildlife (bears, wolves, capercaillies, golden eagles, etc.) has a perfect haven.
The Redes Natural Park is the reserve of reservoirs that provide drinking water to a large area of Asturias. It is also home to a spectacular waterfall - Tabayón del Mongayu - and the place where one of the oldest cheeses in Asturias is made: Casín, which has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). And, of course, it is the site of such well-known landscapes as the beautiful braña de Brañagallones, the Redes Forest and Lake Ubales. It also boasts beautiful villages and well-known trails such as the Alba, which begins and ends in Soto. A land of wood craftsmen, the area is well-known for its madreñeros (clog makers), and Caso is home to the Wood and Madreña (Clog) Museum. There is also a Water Museum in Sobrescobio.
The Ponga Natural Park is home to the famous Peloño forest, a beech forest that becomes a miracle of nature in autumn. It is also the site of the Arcenorio meadow and the Moandi pass. Here, the rivers Ponga and Sella form imposing gorges in a steep and rugged landscape. One of the most typical features of the area are the unique hórreos beyuscos (stone granaries), and mountain lovers can enjoy well-known trails such as Picu Pierzu, Valle Moru, Senda del Cartero and Foz de los Andamios. In short, a landscape of woodland and meadows; a diverse, beautiful and well-preserved natural area.