Bardenas Reales, Spain

Risco Caido and Bardenas Reales, Spain


Risco Caido

Cave system of a pre-Hispanic people

In 1996, in Gran Canaria, in the region of the municipalities of Tejeda, Artenara and Agaete, 21 artificial caves were discovered, which in their entirety represent an ancient settlement. The caves were then cut into the soft tuff of a steep cliff. All caves have engravings, drawings and reliefs on their walls. Particularly impressive is the fact that the caves were cut in such a way that the main cave is illuminated by the full moon as well as the sunlight. The arrangement of the light channels is evidence of a very good knowledge of the solar system and the seasons. When traveling to Gran Canaria, there is now one more mystical site to discover. Nothing is more impressive than being able to experience the impressive play of light up close.

UNESCO world heritage

On 07/07/2019, the Risco Caido settlement with the surrounding sacred mountains was declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the justification it is mentioned that one of the least known and most unusual cultures developed here over a period of 1500 years. The buildings that arose in the Caldera de Tejeda became a holy place due to their orientation towards the rising and setting sun and the summer solstice in June and the equinox in October. These extraordinary astronomically aligned structures were used for rituals by this ancient North African people.

Location -Accessibility

According to topschoolsintheusa, Risco Caido is located in the northwest of the island of Gran Canaria. The caves begin about 100 meters above the river bed of a lower reaches of the Barranco Hondo de Abajo. The area is easily accessible for study trips to Gran Canaria. The drive from Las Palmas takes about an hour and takes the GC-2 and G-C220 roads. From southern Maspalomas, the drive via the eastern roads GC-1, GC-3, GC-2 and GC-220 takes about 1.5 hours. The direct route through the mountains via the GC-60, GC-201 and G-C217 is shorter, but takes at least two hours.

Bardenas Reales

Discover Spain’s unique desert landscape

The semi-desert Bardenas Reales is unique in its shape. The UNESCO biosphere reserve is located in the Navarra region and is one of the most bizarre landscapes in Europe. As a unique natural area, the Bardenas Reales desert landscape is always worth a visit and should be part of every study trip to Spain.

Abandoned desert landscape

Bizarre rock formations made of clay and limestone, which seem almost flowing, dry river beds and table mountains characterize the landscape of the Bardenas Reales. The 40,000 hectares of the nature park look like a lunar landscape. Here rock formations and gorges alternate and the area is as good as deserted. A few decades ago there were still some shepherds living in the desert landscape, and some abandoned huts are reminiscent of them. But even today, shepherds from the Pyrenees return to the Bardenas Reales to hibernate in winter. Although part of the Bardenas Reales is a restricted military area, most of the lonely desert landscape can be explored. Hikes through the Bardenas leave unique impressions. Alternatively, the landscape near the Pyrenees can also be explored by bike. The nature park offers 700 km of cycling and hiking trails. Visitors can obtain a card free of charge at the visitor center.

From the seabed to the unique desert landscape

Millions of years ago, today’s desert area was once the seabed, which also explains the numerous mussels that can be found here. Due to the weather, the soft layers of earth were removed and an almost mystical desert was created. The area is also popular for filming. The region has already been the location of a James Bond film and Game of Thrones. But the fantastic landscape not only magically attracts film teams, it is also a paradise for bird species such as the peregrine falcon, golden eagle, griffon vulture and Egyptian vulture. 24 species of birds of prey have made their home in the area with the barren fauna, but some mammal species and reptiles also inhabit this nature park, which is unique in Europe.

A detour to Tudela is also worthwhile, the alleys of the 1000 year old old town are worth a visit.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

small monastery island with great attraction on the Bay of Biscay

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a small island in northeastern Spain – in the Bay of Biscay, which Spain shares with France. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which is followed by a 237-step staircase that leads to the upper region of the island. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is assigned to the Spanish region of the Basque Country in the northeast of the southern European country. Thanks to its natural formations, but also because of the historical monastery building, the island is one of the excursion highlights for trips in northern Spain.

The former monastery of the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

The construction of the historic chapel at the tip of the island is said to date back to the 9th century. Today’s chapel on the island towers around 80 meters above sea level and offers visitors a romantic view of the sea. The chapel is consecrated to John the Baptist – hence the Spanish name San Juan. The Knights Templar is said to have settled here in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the historic monastery complex was built at that time, although it no longer functions as a monastery today. One of the famous local events is the attack by the privateer Francis Drake around 1593.

Cultural highlight and location in northeast Spain

Strategically, the island played a major role for the regional rulers; in the 16th century, the Huguenots invaded here, causing a major fire. Also around 1978 a fire overcame the island and destroyed parts of the church, which was soon rebuilt. The local nature reserve is particularly popular with hikers today. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe became known to a larger audience as the location of the hit series Game of Thrones and formed the scenery for the Dragonstone Fortress in the seventh season. Against this background, the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is an excellent destination for study trips.

Bardenas Reales, Spain