Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa are a mountainous massif located in the north of Spain that belongs to the central part of the Cantabrian mountain range. Although not very extensive, its proximity to the sea makes it prodigious in geographical features of great interest. At present, the Picos de Europa National Park is the second most visited national park in Spain.

This limestone formation extends through Asturias, Cantabria and León and its heights stand out, in many cases above 2,500 metres, because of its proximity to the Cantabrian Sea, since at its northernmost point it is barely 15 kilometres from the sea. Geographically, the Picos de Europa are located in the line of the Cantabrian Mountains, although they are considered to be an independent unit of the latter due to their more recent formation. They occupy a total area of 64,600 hectares distributed among the three provinces.

The Picos de Europa are divided into three massifs: the western massif or Cornión, the central massif or Urrieles and the eastern massif or Ándara.

The highest are found in the Urrieles massif, which happens to be the wildest of the three, as fourteen of its peaks exceed 2,600 metres, with the Torrecerredo, 2,648 metres, as the roof of these mountains and the third highest in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, after Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees. Another mountain found in this massif is the Naranjo de Bulnes or Picu Urriellu, of great historical importance in Spanish alpinism. It was conquered for the first time in 1905 by Pedro Pidal, Marquis of Villaviciosa, and firstly by his partner, Gregorio Pérez DeMaría, from Caín de Valdeón.

In the western massif or Cornión, so called because of the shape of the horn that offers its silhouette when seen from the west, the Peña Santa stands out, which with its 2,596 metres of altitude is 110 metres higher than the next peak of this massif, the Torre de Santa María or Torre Santa de Enol. Because of these two mountains, the Peña Santa and the Torre Santa, this massif is also known as the Peñas Santas.

The Eastern massif, also called the Andara massif because it is home to the circus of the same name, is the most modest of the three, both in terms of height (its roof, the Morra de Lechugales, reaches 2,444 m) and vertical height.

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