with neighboring France
Pyrenees, or Pirineo, are a mountain
range located at North of the Iberian Peninsula, among Spain, Andorra
and France. It is prolonged throughout 415 km. from the Mediterranean
sea to the East, until the Cantabrian sea in the West. In its central
part has a width of about 150 kms. and is the geographical area of
the mountain range of Pyrenees that extends approximately among the
summits of Somport, in the western part, and the massif of
Maladeta, in the oriental one.
In the North hillside - in France -
it lapses for the regions of Aquitaine (Atlantic Pyrenees), Noon-Pyrenees
(High Pyrenees, High Garona and Ariège) and Rosellón (Oriental Pyrenees).
In the South hillside - in Spain - it does for Navarrese, Aragon (Huesca)
and Catalonia (Lérida and Gerona). The small country
of Andorra is also in Pyrenees, between Spain and France. In these
mountains there are picks of more than 3.000 meters high, as Aneto
(3.404 m), Posets (3.375 m), the Monte Perdido (3.355
m) and Vignemale (3.298 m); there are also small glaciers,
lakes and circuses of origin glacier, and great number of valleys
The word Pyrenees seem to come from
the mythological daughter of Atlas, Pirene. According to the Greeks,
Pyrenees received this name of Pirene,
a youth of the region to which Hercules took in one of his trips;
when she died he accumulated stones to seal here her tomb. Another
version that it is an old toponym, of íberian origin or Basque. According
to this language, the mountain range was denominated ilene os
that means "mounts of the Moon", ilene is the Moon.
In the geological, the slopes in the
traverse sense are much more accented in the French slope that in
the Spaniard, while lengthwise descends smoothly toward the Cantabrian
sea but in a more abrupt way toward Mediterranean one. They were formed
in the Tertiary Era, with the great alpine-himalayan folding, but
it differs since Alps: while in these play a decisive part the landslide
layers, Pyrenees can be qualified on the whole like a mountain range
of autochthonous folding.
Aragonese Pirineo belongs almost totally
to the central sector of the Pyrennes Mountain range, where the biggest
bench marks and the maximum width of the mountainous system are reached.
Inside the great complexity of this mountain range, of structures
aligned according to the address W-N-W and -E-S-E, in Aragonese Pirineo
they are also recognized pleats of orientation North-south, being
the whole Prepirineo an alóctona (from another country)
unit, several kilometers to the South displaced, that is denominated
layer of landslide of Gavarnie-Monte Perdido.
The picks of Pyrenees that overcome
the 3.200 meters of altitude, orderly according to height, are the
following ones: Aneto, 3.404 m., Posets, 3.375 m., Monte
Perdido, 3.355 m., Maldito, 3.350 m., Espadas, 3.332
m., Cilindro de Marboré, 3.325 m., Maladeta, 3.312 m.,
Vignemale, 3.298 m., Tempestades, 3.290 m., Soum
de Ramond, 3.259 m., Marboré, 3.252 m., Margalida,
3.241 m., Perdiguero, 3.222 m., Russell, 3.205 m.
The glaciation of the Quaternary Era
affected Pyrenees in a more decisive way that to the Spanish other
mountain ranges, some prints of modeling glacier exist from Canigó
until the pick of Adi. Most of the current ibones (mountain
lakes) are from glacier origin. Nowadays Pyrenees only possess circus
glaciers or with small length above the 3.000 meters: Balaitus,
Vignemale, Monte Perdido and Maladeta.
The Pyrenees mountain range is origin
of many and important rivers: Adur, Garona, Nivelle, Tec, Têt,
Aglí and Ande , belonging to the French slope. Bidasoa,
Aragón, Gállego, Cinca, Ésera, Segre, Ter, Llobregat,
Muga and Fluviaá are those that belong to the Spanish
The representative 'par excellence'
of the pyrenees flora has always been the Edelweiss or flower of snow.
At the moment only it is in certain areas of difficult access, like
in the slope between Canyon of Añisclo and Pineta, or
in the high areas of the valley of Ordesa
We should be cautious when ingesting
some vegetable species, because for example, the aconite and the seeds
of the tejo are poisonous. In the humid areas they are also
very common the black pine, and the beech, very significant in the
National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido.
Pirineo constitutes an unique place
for the view of several animal species. The abrupt of the land has
impeded the human masificación that is always a danger for the biodiversity.
Between almost 200 animal species that survive in the mountain range,
highlights on all the presence of the mythical Brown Bear, even pursued
and exhausted, seems to recover very slowly of its decline, although
its population reaches the 20-25 specimens only.
Highlights the rebeco that passed
of being on the edge of the extinction at the beginning of the XIX
century to the 45.000 today specimens. Equally happens to the deer
or the roe deer, extended by the whole low mount, as well as the omnipresent
wild boar. It doesn't happen similar with the bucardo (Capra
pyrenaica) or mountain goat of Pyrenees that was extinguished
in the year 2000. They are easy to see the groundhogs among the alpine
pasturelands. In total about 42 species of mammals exist in Pirineo.
Among the birds, the unquestionable
king is the osprey. Extinguished in almost all Europe, is here, in
Pirineo, where the species has found its last refuge, at the moment
in expansion and providing specimens for breeding projects and recovery
in Alps. They are considered in some 90-95 couples and 500-600 osprey.
The great predator of the Pyrenees airs is the real eagle, followed
by varieties of night and day species: abejeros, real or black
kites, hawks, kestrels, real owls or the northerly strange owl that
passed of being considered extinct to offer a population around the
80 couples, as well as ghoulish birds: the tawny vulture, the alimoche
(Egyptian vulture) and lately a recently arrived in expansion, the
In the forest the capercaillie, in
clearing extinction danger and very affected by the massive tourism,
seems in setback when one speaks of the Spanish slope (4 males in
Navarrese, 75 in Aragon and about 450 in Catalonia) and very well
conserved in the French one (around the 3.500 males). Next to it,
about 120 species of small birds among those that highlight the black
hooter, real pito, pito dorsiblanco, torcecuello
and treparriscos. In the high mountain lives one of the big
pyrenees jewels, the white partridge or alpine lagópodo. The
700 couples of this prodigious one shy animal indicates that we are
still before the last virgin regions of Western Europe.
Pirineo offers us in all splendor, just
as it is, and allows multitude of sport activities, today already
regulated. It demands us to change, nothing else that taken care for
this beautiful sample and prodigy of the nature can be transmitted
and offered in inheritance for our descendants.