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07·JAN·2014

Espuña Regional Park

The Sierra Espuña is a vast regional park at the heart of Murcia. Stretching across a patchwork of mountains, pine forests, open plains, reservoirs and ravines, the 25,000 hectares of space offers stunning scenery that can be explored in a variety of ways.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century deforestation caused by logging, mining and farming had left this area almost completely without vegetation. In 1889, the forester and Cartagena-native, Ricardo Codorníu, shocked at what he saw, undertook the mammoth task of reforesting the area. He planted pine trees over an area of 20,000 hectares in a project that was revolutionary for its time. Following its success, in 1931 the park was declared a site of cultural interest and in 1992 it became protected as a regional park and a designated protection area for birds.
Today the Ricardo Codorníu visitor centre welcomes visitors to Sierra Espuña. The centre provides information on the park’s flora and fauna as well as maps for those wishing to take a walk in the hills. Walking routes range from short walks along wooden platforms to longer routes suitable for the more adventurous. Or if you just fancy taking in the sights in comfort, there are a number of picnic tables and barbeque pits available to the public, a favourite amongst locals on the weekends. In the late sixteenth century, Sierra Espuña was used to store ice. The Pozos de Nieve, or snow wells, can be still be seen today. These are 25 circular structures dug into the ground that acted as early refrigerators in which snow would be collected and compacted. This would later be collected in the Spring as ice and distributed to towns and cities in the region. Mirador del Collado Bermejo is one of the best vantage points in the whole park. At an altitude of 1,021 metres above sea level it’s a bit of a trek up Sierra de la Muerra (or you could drive). From here you can see Espuña River Valley and the acres of pine forests. Walking is not the only way to enjoy Sierra Espuña. Local businesses offer a range of fun ways to explore the park including quad bikes, buggies, bicycles, kayaks and rock climbing. Sierra Espuña is around two hours from Alicante Airport and Drivalia Car Rental. For further information visit the Region de Murcia website.