In Spain there is a great variety of landscapes and ecosystems inhabited by various species of flora and fauna. Among them we can highlight the High Mountain areas with various and different flora and fauna. However, among of these landscapes there is one that is different to all of them and to most of the landscapes you can find in Europe, which are the deserts. Spain is a country that is rich in deserts and has quite a lot spread all over the territory. However, the only place considered as a properly desert in Spain is the desert of Tabernas, in the province of Almería, and officially is considered as the only one desert in Europe.
Even though if this big desert in Almería is the only one considered as the properly one in Spain and in Europe, the fact is that there are at least five big deserts in Spain such as the Bárdenas Reales in Navarra, the desert of Larva in Jaén and the Gorafe desert in Granada. We are going to talk in this article about the desert of Monegros, which is also unknown for a lot of people in Spain. Its original name, Montes Negros, dates back to its Arab past, due to the pine trees and junipers that covered the Monegrina steppe, giving it a dark colour.
The Monegros desert, will sound familiar to many people due to the Music Festival that is held there every summer. For more information about the festival, you can visit this link: https://www.monegrosfestival.com/es/, where you can find the latest information about the festival and the artists playing this year at this festival, and as well you can get information about the tickets. This festival is focused on electronic music and since that, the desert started to become a very popular destination for music lovers
Actually, the climate in Monegros is semi-desert which means that there are almost permanent droughts, which make it a little different to most deserts and the landscape is very similar to the Bardenas Reales desert, which is quite close, and about two hours away by car from each other. We have to highlight that these two deserts are located in the North of Spain, so we can see that in this are of Spain and very near the Pyrenees there are some deserts too, and not just only in South Spain or in the Canary Islands.
The Monegros desert is older than Bardenas Reales, and therefore more eroded. In some centuries, it is very probable the Bardenas Reales will look similar to the landscape in Monegros. Something logical due to their proximity since they share a similar morphology.
And this is what it makes Spain fascinating, since you can find a lot of diversity in the climate and in landscapes depending on the area of Spain where you are.
In this photo you can see the famous Tozales or particular rock formations that you can find in the Monegros Desert. The Monegros tozales are located in an area of the Monegros desert called Jubierre. Its landscape is the result of intense erosion generated by rain and air, which have created a series of impressive reliefs and a network of ravines. The materials of the Jubierre formations are limestone, sandstone and clay. This special mixture of soft and hard materials is what have made possible the creation of this spectacular natural rock setting.
“Toza” is an Aragonese word, which describes a hill, or mountain range. The mixture of materials makes that the tozales have an impressive range of colours that go from rusty reddish to greenish-gray, with a wide range of tones. The route to visit the tozales is known as the Jubierre route. This route is very well signposted, and it is suitable for active tourism, since it can be done on foot, by bicycle and in most of its sections by car. There are many places where you can park your car and do this route by foot or by bike.
This desert is located near the big city of Zaragoza, and it is the Province of Huesca. This desert has the qualification of “Most Singular Landscape, Unique in Europe”, and has an area of 276,440 hectares. In this way, it is one of the five largest deserts in Spain. Its geological history dates back more than 25 million years, made up of steppes, mountain ranges, ravines and valleys. In its interior it has a very rich biological diversity of fauna and flora. Its sandy aspect is broken by salty lagoons and rafts such as La Sariñena or La Playa, although they are liquid oases in a desert complex. Its name comes from the black mountains, since that was how it was known before its pines and trees were cut down.
The best place to get to this desert is through Zaragoza. Los Monegros can be reached by car, by train and by plane. It is 50 kilometres from Zaragoza and 75 km from Huesca. It is very easy to get there by car, first by taking the Highway A2 towards Zaragoza and, shortly after passing Zaragoza, you can already see that you are going through the area of Los Monegro due to the change of the landscape. Stony soils, golden fields of cereals, juniper trees, scattered villages, lagoons and ponds. A landscape that will really leave you impressed and absorbed at the same time. Then, you can get the A-1104 road which will take you to Los Monegros.
The A-1104 is a one-lane, two-way road, without discontinuous delimiting lines. From now you can see this arid landscape and try and plan some of the routes around this desertic area. The ideal is to travel by car or motorcycle since you have the freedom to see many areas around it and also some villages.
In the 19th century in Los Monegros there were about 6,000 hectares of vineyards. There was a great wine culture around the villages located in this area because it was made as a product for self-consumption. However, in the last century, the irrigation with the construction of the Los Monegros canal, sank the wine-growing tradition of the region and is not possible to cultivate much more wine. Even thought there are some areas where they plant cereals such as wheat. People began to dedicate themselves to the cultivation of extensive crops and nowadays there are only 80 ha of vineyard.
This is a geological steppe, and also a demographic desert, since not many people live around this area. It is a silent region where it hardly rains and, the winters are quite cold and with temperatures reaching minus celsium degrees, and the summer is too hot with average temperatures of 28 and 30 degrees in summertime. So, the climatic conditions gave this territory a particular and characteristic identity.
In Los Monegros you can find the The Sierra de Alcubierre, which crosses Los Monegros from northwest to southeast and its highest point is one where the hermitage of San Caprasio at 834 meters hight.
If you want to stay overnight in this area The ‘Hotel Cueva Tardienta’ is a four-hectare tourist complex next to the town of Tardienta, and it is a hotel in which the rooms are decorated with a Moroccan aesthetic and will remind you that you are in another country. Travelling in the North Spain and discovering its amazing places is really and adventure, for more information about accommodation and ideas of what to do in North Spain, we recommend visiting our website where you will be able to rent an apartment with sea views in San Sebastián.