Roman rabbit coin of Hispania

December 16th, 2019

Roman coin of Hispania with distinct rabbit, endemic to Iberia and exported elsewhere.The most widely–accepted theory says Phoenicians called Iberia i-shepan-im, the Land of Rabbits (or to be more precise the land of hyrax north African animals they confused) which became Hispania.

Spanish esparto grass on the River Thames

December 16th, 2019

A remarkable photograph taken in 1938 shows a group of men unloading huge piles of esparto grass from barges on the River Thames. In the smoggy background is Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. The grass was shipped from the Murcian town of Aguilas and was probably destined as cellulose to produce high quality paper for book printing.
Before the arrival of synthetic fibres, Aguilas was the chief distribution centre for esparto, exporting shiploads across the Mediterranean and to northern Europe.

Landscapes of Pancorbo

December 16th, 2019

Ignacio Zuloaga (Éibar, 1870-Madrid, 1945) painted numerous landscapes of Spain including this bleak yet inviting evocation of Pancorbo ( 1917) in the province of Burgos. Espacio cultural Ignacio Zuloaga, Zumaia, Guipúzcoa. More here.

Image result for Darío de Regoyos `pancorbo

A train passing through Pancorbo was also depicted by Darío de Regoyos in 1901. From MNAC

The approach to the village also appears in this watercolour by Edgar Thomas Ainger Wigram’s  Northern Spain (1906).

The Pancorbo gorge by Gustave Doré (1873)

The biggest olive tree in the world

April 26th, 2018

The biggest olive tree in the world is reputedly the Oliva de Fuentebuena in Jaén. According to the Guinness Book of Records it is over 10m high with a girth of more than 4m.

More here


May 7th, 2017

Clay soils in parts of the Monegros are eroded easily leaving weird sandstone formations called torrellones, looking like something straight out of Arizona. This one is called Cabeza de Perro, Dog’s Head. 

Image by Rodriguem on Wikicommons

Lammergeyer continues recovery in Aragón

May 5th, 2017

The lammergeyer or bearded vulture is continuing to recover in Aragón, its Iberian stronghold, with 90 pairs recorded in 2017, up from less than 40 in the 1980s. More here

Chicks from Aragón are to be taken to teh Picos de Europa to help in the reintroduction project there. Here

Origin of the Pyrenees 

May 3rd, 2017

The Pyrenees, according to Greek mythology at least, take their name from Pyrene, daughter of King Bebrycius who was raped by Hercules, after which she gave birth to a serpent. Terrified by how her father would react, Pyrene fled to these hills, where she was torn apart by wild animals. Hercules later came upon her lacerated remains, and overcome with grief, commanded the surrounding mountains help create a tomb for her by piling up rocks. Thus, the Pyrenees were created. 

A more likely explanation is that the Iberian microcontinent began to crash into Europe some 55 million years ago causing a massive uplift and slowly and powerfully forming the range.

Andaluician coast, 1860 by Carlos de Haes

December 20th, 2016

Memories of Andalucía, (1860) Mediterrean coast near Torremolinos. by Carlos de Haes, Museo del Prado. Difficult to imagine today.

Eurasian lynx in Spain

December 15th, 2016

A couple of interesting recent developments on the old presence of the Eurasian lynx in Spain and its hopeful reintroduction. It is thought the animal would have co-existed with the very edge of the Iberian lynxes range in northern Spain and the Pyrenees.

The possible presence well into the 20th century of the so-called gatillop in the Catalan Pyrenees as the animal is known in Catalan has long been discussed. There is now a Catalan government plan, as yet to be carried out, to release Eurasian lynxes in the Vall D’Aran in the Pyrenees. More here (2016)

Evidence now shows that the Eurasian lynx existed in Northern Spain in the Cantabrian mountains until at least 400 years ago. (2015 RTVE)


Wildlife of the Sierra Morena documentary

December 14th, 2016

Stunning images in trailer for the WildMed documentary on the wildlife of Sierra Morena, the largest Mediterranean forest in the world.

Wildmed, el último bosque mediterráneo.