Before winter, when the weather was still just how I like it – shortsy and sunny – we took a day trip just about 1.5 hours north of Seville to check out a bit of the Sierra Norte de Sevilla mountain range.
This string of mountains, part of the larger Sierra Morena, sits north of Seville (as its name suggests) and is home to a lot of that delicious jamón ibérico and wine production, as well as lots of wildlife and other rural treats. It’s also a bit of a cooler retreat for folks around here when the weather’s too hot down in Seville.
When visiting this area, you sort of have to pick and choose what you’re going to do if you’re only going up there for the day. There’s a lot to see and do and eat, and we chose to check out the famed Cerro del Hierro natural monument, which is a unique group of karst rock formations in the middle of the mountains.
So, one Saturday morning, we hit the road with our pals, Ana and Lynnette, to explore the area and eat some good food, and generally just hang out. Our modus operandi on a regular basis.
Our first stop was the village of Constantina, to have a little walk, a drink, and then dive into some sustenance before wearing out our legs in the mountains. We sat out on the patio of some restaurant whose name escapes me, eating plates of tasty meats and drinking in the sun.
And watching folks on horseback just stroll by. Because I guess that’s how they roll up here.
After spending our fair share of time doing nothing but living, we hopped in the car and headed up the winding back roads of the park, where we pulled over to see and climb about some waterfalls that dot the area. Careful, ladies!
Hopping back in the car, it was more winding and twisting, and we eventually made it up to the Cerro del Hierro itself. Before we get to its uniqueness, it’s important to note that this area was heavily mined back in the day as it’s chock-full of mineral goodness.
There’s still a little pueblo here, which used to be the company town for miners. I find it rather interesting that the town still exists – in good form, no less – as we’re used to seeing places like this completely left to die a slow death and eventually be sucked into a life after people scenario.
Not here, though! The town of what’s gotta be less than 100 people is still in action, looking pretty, with a quaint little plaza. There’s not much here, but there is a bar, so at least the folks of this village have that! Got to, right?
What’s kind of funny is that this area is known as the siberia sevillana due to how ridiculously freezing it gets. It can drop to -14º Celsius (6º Fahrenheit), which doesn’t sound too terrible if you’re from a place that actually gets cold. But, considering the January highs in Seville easily top 15C (60F), these temperatures can be quite brutal. Brrrr.
So anyway, next to the town are the rock formations and former mining area of Cerro del Hierro itself. This is what we came to see.
Before walking into these looming rocks, we stuck our heads in and around the abandoned buildings that once housed the mining businesses and the bosses of the mine themselves.
Up and at ’em, we hiked into the [mountains? rocks? cliffs? karst thingies?] and walked along the trails that weave in and out of the park.
Some of them had blocked access due to some restoration or something, but we gladly went other directions to stand below these behemoths.
We found quite a few rock climbers here, as it’s a popular destination for those who feel the need to scale things. We chatted with some of them for a bit, and watched them do their thing on the sheer cliff faces.
See him up there? Oof!
It looks quite fun, although I’m not sure I could ever look down from up there. Heights and I are not the best of comrades.
There was another abandoned building inside the rocks themselves, where it seems people like to leave their mark. In keeping with this tradition, we scratched a little something on the walls as well.
We also stumbled across a huge cavern on our stroll. We weren’t supposed to go in, but we did. Buyer beware!
But, it was cool to see as I’d never personally guess that we’d find caves like this in the south of Spain.
After exploring for a few hours, we headed back out of the rocks and down the hills.
Once at the bottom, our interest was piqued by the cork trees that were scattered throughout the area.
I had no idea that cork trees were a type of oak – the same trees that provide acorns (bellotas) that help your jamón ibérico taste so delicious.
I guess I always figured that the acorns came from what we know as the standard oak tree, and that cork came from cork trees. Who knew?!
Sweltering in the heat a bit and needing some respite from our weekend exercise, we hopped back in the car and made our way back down through the park and the mountains, where we found a cafe to have a drink and eat some of the delicious brownies that Lynnette brought. A delightful, post-exercise reward.
And such and so, and this and that! A great day in the previously unknown-to-us Sierra Norte. Friends, food, and some exercise to walk it off. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. If you find yourself along the southern tourist haunts of Spain, why not take a side trip to somewhere that a lot of your average tourists never even know about?
Thanks much to Ana for the idea to head up here for the day, and for driving!
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Have you ever been to the Sierra Norte de Sevilla? If so, what’d you think? If not, what say ye? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!