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Cantabrian Mountains: Cordillera Cantábrica

The Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica in Spanish) is a mountain chain extending approximately 300 km across northern Spain, moving almost parallel to the Bay of Biscay. They run from the western limit of the Pyrenees, as far as the pass of Leitariegos, to the borders of Galicia, limited by the valley of the river Miño, and several smaller rivers. They move nearly parallel to the coast of the Bay of Biscay.

Geologically the range can be divided into three sections:

  • Macizo asturiano . (Asturian Mountains)
  • Las Montañas de Cantabria With Picos de Europa
  • Los Montes Vascos. (Basque Mountains)

Some geographers regard the mountains of Galicia beyond the Miño as an integral part of the same system; others confine the name to the eastern half of the highlands between Galicia and the Pyrenees, and call their western half the Asturian Mountains. There are also many local names for the subsidiary ranges within the chain, which includes the Picos de Europa.(geology, wildlife and nature guide to Picos).

Carlos de Haes ; Los Picos de Europa. (1860 )
Museo del Prado (167 x 123 cm.) .

As a whole, the Cantabrian Mountains are remarkable for their intricate ramifications, but almost everywhere, and especially in the east, it is possible to distinguish two principal ranges, from which the lesser ridges and mountain masses radiate. One range, or series of ranges, closely follows the outline of the coast; the other, which is loftier, forms the northern limit of the great tableland of Castile and León, and is sometimes regarded as a continuation of the Pyrenees. The coastal range rises in, some parts sheer above the sea, and everywhere has so abrupt a declivity that the streams which flow seaward are all short and swift.
The descent from the southern range to the high plateaus of Castile is more gradual, and several large rivers, notably the Ebro, rise here and flow to the south or west. The breadth of the Cantabrian chain, with all its ramifications, increases from about 60 m;in the east to about 115 m. in the west. Many peaks are upwards of 2000m. high, but the greatest altitudes are attained in the central ridges on the borders of León, Asturias, Palencia and Cantabria. Here are Torre de Cerredo (2,648m), Torre de Llambrión (2,642m), Peña Vieja (2,613m) and Peña Santa de Castilla (2,596m);. A conspicuous feature of the chain, as of the adjacent tableland, is the number of its parameras, isolated plateaus shut in by lofty mountains or even by precipitous walls of rock.
The Cantabrian Mountains make a sharp divide between "Green Spain" to the north, and the dry central plateau. The north facing slopes receive heavy cyclonic rainfall from the Bay of Biscay, whereas the southern slopes are in rain shadow.
The Sierra de Ancares is an extension, to the south-west, of the Cantabrian Mountains, forming the boundary between Galicia and Léon. The Ancares form the boundary between the Galicia and Leon. The highest point of the range is the peak of Cuinña (1,987 metres). This area of Spain contains many isolated rural communities that were largely cut off from the outside world until roads were built in the mid 20th century. The traditional dwelling of the Ancares was the palloza, a thatched house.

Source adpated from wikipedia

Highest mountains in the Cordillera Cantábrica



Torre Cerredo

Picos de Europa





Picos de Europa