The Natural Park and Marine Reserve of the Sierra de Irta.
The Sierra de Irta is located within the towns of Alcala de Xivert, St. Magdalena de Pulpis and Peñiscola. This natural treasure is considered as one of the most fascinating natural parks of the peninsula and is the only coastal area that is free of buildings between France and Andalucia.
The Natural Park and Marine Reserve of the Sierra de Irta is a privileged area located in the region of Baix Maestrat and is protected area since 2002.
The white calcareous rock substrate, the spectacular coastal cliffs, characteristic vegetation and a rich architectural heritage, are integrated in a harmonious way in the last stretch of coast about 14 km remaining undeveloped plots between France and Almeria. It is a landscape of great personality that communicates a sense of undiscovered paradise. Many visitors enjoy this Natural Park characterized by sustainably coastal tourism that reconciles recreational use in the coves and beaches with the conservation of natural values.
Sierra de Irta – Geographical Location
Down the road N-340 we find the two main entrances to the Natural Park Sierra de Irta one of them by the town of Alcossebre following the CN 142 and later by the CV 141 we can head to the town of Peñiscola.Both provide direct access to the natural coastal area. On the other hand we also find at the same N-340 another possibility of access to the interior of the park located in the municipality of St. Magdalena de Pulpis.
Sierra de Irta - Soils
Karstic modeling is a consequence of the dissolution exerted by CO2 laden waters in contact with calcareous and dolomite causing surface forms that can be external o internal and underground forms that shape the landscape called karst, generating a highly singular hydrological environment.
In the Sierra de Irta are also of interest forms of external development karst modeling the underground development and large freshwater springs which constitute the main natural outlets karst aquifer in the costal area. External development forms are represented in the Sierra by karren morphologies whose origin is related to the dissolution of limestone and dolomite below the soil cover o simply by the action of rain water or sea water on the surface of these rocks.Examples of lapiaz morphology observed in the Sierra de Irta are grooves, ridges, cracks, cavities, tubular holes, etc. that forms the surface of carbonate rocks. We also find unique forms of lapiaz in the coastline. Rafts represented by corrosion and rough surfaces are developed over large well-cemented block and plates. The shapes are developed internal or surface means kartico characterized by the formation of cavities or duct work (potholes and caves) which are developed from the ground surface to the deepest parts even to discharge areas. Water infiltration inside the mountain form the aquifer of the Maestrat and can appear as natural outlets of freshwater springs and wells as in the case of Pou del Moro, Mas del Senyor, etc. In the coastal infiltrations result in upwelling that flow to the sea as those seen at the foot of the cliff tower Torre Badum and at the beach Playa del Ruso.
Sierra de Irta - Tree mass
Flora: Vegetation of the Sierra de Irta en Peñiscola shows a typical mediterranean landscape scrubland dominated by palms (Chamaerops humilis) and where the only forest formations are White pines (Pinnus halepensis) that have replaced the holm potential vegetation of the Sierra mountain pine forests are groves that are accompanied by mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) and kermes oaks (Quercus coccifera).
It is curious to find inside olm grove (olmeda) accompanied by some popular tres but the abundance of water in this area due to the confluence of two gorges makes it possible.
Dominate plant formation is the coastal maquis formed by the mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), black hawthorm (Rhamnus lycioides) and other sclerophyllous evergreen scrubs and small leaf that often lead to a web of impenetrable vegetation.
Include the magnificent palm population (Chamaerops humilis) unique European authchthonous palm tres forming the first barrier against the sea as well as the existence of two microreservas one of them is located in Cala Argilaga here grows the relojillo (Erodium sanguischristi) and the other on the cliffs of the Torre Badum, only microreserve where Limonium (Limonium perplexum) grows.
In the Natural Park Sierra de Irta the birds are the largest and most diverse faunal group. The species living in the bush are the most abundant such as different species of warbler ( Sylvia spp.).
Also good population of raptors both day and night highlighted by the Bonelli´s eagle ( Hieraaetus fasciatus), the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the buzzard (Buteo buteo) Bonelli´s eagle (Circaetus gallicus).
In the coastal environment appear species more relevant to be classified as a vulnerable species would be the case of the Audouin´s Gull (Lanes Audouinii) and sensitivity to the alteration of its habitat the cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). The population of mammals is characterized by the landlocked area, all groups being widely distributed include the res squirrel ((Sciurus vulgaris), the boar (Sus scrofa), the fox (Vulpes vulpes), genet (Genetta genetta) and the badger (Meles meles).
Interpretation center of the Sierra de Irta in Peñiscola
El Prat de Cabanes
El Prat de Cabanes –Torreblanca is a narrow strip of land of marshes and swamps formed by quaternary deposits. This natural area is located on the coastal plain that stretches between the towns of Torreblanca and Cabanes. The characteristic landscape prat is typical of a wet coastal area separated from the sea by a cordon of gravel and boulders. Among the outstanding values of the natural park, wildlife has great importance because you can find endemic species such as dribbling, the fartet or samaruc. Birds are the best represented group faunistic. Vital plant communities are represented by: the salt marsh, the characteristics of dune cordon and aquatic.
Tineca de Benifassa
The Natural Park of Tineca de Benifassa was declared in May 2006, covering about 5000 hectares contained in nearly 26.000 plan ordinance of natural resources is located in the historic district of the same name, the populations Pobla de Benifassa, Coratxa, Boixar, Fredes, El Ballestar, Bel y Castell de Cabres.
Besides its high environmental value and the continuity of habitats included the term Vallibona. The rugged terrain of this massif from the intersection of mountain ranges united the work of generations of people with their traditional uses results in an area of spectacular landscape and high biodiversity.
The Natural Park Penyagolosa located between the municipal terms of maestrat Vistabella del Maestrat, Xodos y Villahermosa del Rio, represents a first order geographic landmark and a cultural tradition deeply rooted in Valencia. With its 1.094,45 hectares and its highest peak (1.814 m) it is considered the roof of the Community of Valencia par excellence, surpassed only by the height of the Barracas (Cerro Calderon).
In the foothills of the Iberian and Catalan Coastal Range the Penyagolosa massif is part of a crossroad of geological environments, biological, cultural and social. El Penyagolosa is a reference to the Valencian hiking part of the lives of several generations of mountaineers.