IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
By Nick Lloyd - Home - Contact


Mountains in Spain

Highest mountains in Spain
(Height in metres)

Teide (Tenerife) 3,718
Mulhacén (Granada) 3,478
Aneto (Huesca) 3,404
Veleta (Granada) 3,392
Llardana (Huesca) 3,375
Alcazaba (Granada) 3,366
Monte Perdido (Huesca) 3,355
Cilindro (Huesca) 3,328
Perdiguero (Huesca) 3,321
Maladeta (Huesca) 3,309

Highest mountains by range

Sierras Béticas

Mulhacén (3,478)
Veleta (3,392)
Alcazaba (3,366)
Aneto (3,404)
Lardana (3,375)
Monte Perdido (3,355)
Cordillera Cantabrica (Picos de Europa)
Torre Cerredo (2,648)
Sistema Central
Almanzor (2,592)
Balearics (Mallorca)
Puig Major (1,445)
Sistema Iberico
Moncayo (2,313)

  • The highest mountain in the French Pyrenees is Mt Vignemale (3,298m).

  • The highest mountain in Andorra is Coma Pedrosa (2,942m)

  • The highest mountain in Portugal is in Malhão da Estrela (1,991 m) -Azores apart.





  • Richard Ford, the 19th century traveller and first British hispanophile, jokingly said in 'Gatherings from Spain' that the country is just one big mountain. 24% is above 1000 m and 76% between 500 and 1000 m. Spain has an average altitude of 660 metres. In Europe only Switzerland is higher (by a long way - average altitude of 1,300 metres).
    So it should come as no surprise that Castilian is so rich in words for mountains, hills, cliffs and plateaus. Here's a by no means exhaustive list.
  • Of the 505,988 km2 of Spain , 57,615 km2 are below 200m, 156,370 km2 are between 201 and 600m, 198,650 km2 are between 601 and 1,000m, 88,766 km2 are between 1,000 and 2000m; and 4,587 km2 higher.
  • Only 12% of mainland Spain lies at a gradient of less than 1 in 20 (5%).
  • The Pyrenees have a maximum width of 130km, run 440 km and cover 55,375 km2. There are 212 peaks above 3,000 m. The highest peak in the Pyrenees is Aneto (3,404m) though until the early 19th century it was thought that Monte Perdido was higher.
  • The largest surviving glacier is on Aneto. It currently covers 163 ha, down from 692 at the end of the 19th century. See Pyrenean glaciers melting fast.
  • The last glaciers disappeared in the Sierra Nevada in 1913 at Corral de la Veleta what was the southernmost glacier in Europe .
  • Weirdly, Naranjo de Bulnes is exactly 88km from the nearest three provincial capitals: Oviedo, Santender and León. It is known as Naranjo (or Naranco) de Bulnes because of its orange hue in the evening light.
  • The highest mountain in Picos de Europa is Torre Cerredo. They say the Picos get their name from the fact they were the first land to be spotted by sailors returning home from the Atlantic.

A Biography of Spanish mountains

Highest Mountains in Spain by province





Height in metres


Cerro Bonales

Sierra de Bonales



Torreón del Pinar

Sierra de Grazalema




Sierra del Tablón




Sierra de Horconera




Sierra de Tejeda




Sierra Mágina




Sierra Nevada




Sierra Nevada


Click here for complete list

Length of mountain ranges in Spain and highest mountains

Range (km)

Length (km)

Highest mountain

Height (m)

Cordillera Cantábrica


Torre de Cerrado






Cordilleras Costeras Catalanas


Turó de l'Home


Sistema Ibérica




Sistema Central




Montes de Toledo


Las Villuercas


Sierra Morena




Cordillera Subbética


La Sagra


Cordillera Penibética




Biography of Spanish mountains (IN PROGRESS)

Almanzor : Almanzor (2,592m) in the Sierra de Gredos is the highest mountain in Sistema Central and the province of Ávila . Formed during the Alpine Orogeny (mountian building), it formed principally of granite and so is not highly weathered. The peak is also known as Moro Almanzor, from Al-Mansur ('the victorious'), the de facto Moorish ruler of Al-Andalus during the late 10th-early 11th centuries. His rule marked what was probably the peak of Islamic power in Spain . Legend has it that Al-Mansur passed by here after a terrible battle with the Christians. He was taken by the beauty of the mountains which at the time functioned as a frontier between Islamic Spain and the Christian North, and so he decided to set up camp for the night. Under the stars, he was captivated by the stories of shepherds from the area. They told him than in the heart of these mountains, terrible noises could be heard that would echo along the gulleys and ravines, and which would shake the very hearts of the people of these parts. The next day, the Moorish king bade the shepherds to lead him to the place they spoke of: a magnificent cirque in centre of the Gredos mountains. When the company reached the place, they were greeted by a deafening silence. Fearful of the King's reaction, they began to shout his name, which the duly returned amplified as an echo.

see Sistema Central

First climbed in 1899 by one Manuel González de Amezúa.

External links: Ascensión de Alamanzor (Spanish)

Aneto: the highest mountain in the Pyrenees at 3,404 metres is part of the Maladetta ridge. The Aneto glacier is still the largest in Spain with 163 ha. though it is melting fast due to climate change and is predicted to succumb by the mid-late 21st century. The glacier covered some 692 ha in 1894 at the close of the so-called Little Ice Age. Aneto's French name, Pic de Néthou, is in disuse as the mountain lies entirely within Spain, specifically in the province of Huesca in Aragon. First climbed in 1842 by a Russian named Chikhachev. See Pyrenean glaciers melting fast.

Chullo : Chullo (2,609m) in the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada is the highest peak in the province of Almeria.

Naranjo de Bulnes: Naranjo de Bulnes or Picu Urriellu as it is known in Asturias, is surely the most striking though not the highest mountain in the Picos de Europa.

" Naranjo de Bulnes is a limestone horn of almost sheer walls which rises above the village of Bulnes to more than 2,500 metres. Its base resembles an immense chunk of bread. Until well into the spring its fissures and crags are adorned with blankets of snow. Climbing Picu Urriellu is extremely difficult, and although each of its faces has been conquered, it is still by far the Spanish mountain to have claimed most lives of climbers. Mountaineers employ the latest gear and methods to make its ascent. The sophistication of their equipment is incredible. However, as is often the case, the first climb was the simplest of all, and for that, the most incredible. A few photographs remain of the two participants. The first to conquer Picu Urriellu was Pedro Pidal, the Marques of Villaviciosa, in the summer of 1904, at a time when the contemporary fashion of the sport added a certain charm to the life of an aristocrat. He was accompanied by Gregorio Pérez acting as a guide, a shepherd from the village of Cain, who was known as 'El Cainejo'. The gear of the two climbers was made up of a haversack with something to eat and a couple of ropes ... The Marques wore gaiters and hunting boots and El Cainejo, espadrilles ."
(From Manuel de Lope 's Iberia: La Puerta Iluminada parte 1 - my rough and adapted translation)

One is reminded of the colonial relationship of Sherpa Tenzing and Edmund Hillary. El Cainejo in his espadrilles accompanies the Marques in his boots. The Marques went on to play a pivotal role in Spanish natural history and conservation. Of El Cainejo, there is little more. He probably went back to his sheep and hunting deer, though there is a monument to him in Asturias. Read complete article here

Weirdly, Naranjo de Bulnes is exactly 88km from the nearest three provincial capitals: Oviedo, Santender and León. It is known as Naranjo (or Naranco) de Bulnes because of its orange hue in the evening light.

The highest mountain in Picos de Europa is Torre Cerredo. They say the Picos get their name from the fact they were the first land to be spotted by sailors returning home from the Atlantic.


Mountains in the Pyrenees

Mountains in Cordillera Cantabrica

Mountains in Sistema Central

Mountains in Sistema Iberica

mountain ranges in spain

Spanish mountain ranges

Spain mountain ranges

Mountain ranges of Iberia


External Links: general