With a size of 210,000 hectares, the Cazorla Natural Park is the largest protected natural area in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. This is a complex core of rugged mountains, crisscrossed by fast flowing rivers that form numerous waterfalls, lakes and still pools sheltered by magnificent forests. It is orientated from southwest to northeast and divided by the headwaters of the Guadalquivir River. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO for its scenic beauty and biological wealth, which, together with the cultural heritage of the area, make this environment one of the most visited in Spain
Its fauna is rich and varied; of note are its large populations of deer, mountain goats and wild boar, bobcat, fox, otter and fallow-deer, the latter two having been introduced for hunting.
The mountain goat is one of the iconic animals of the park. Its population was greatly diminished by hunting in the early twentieth century but with the creation of a National Game Preserve they grew in number to reach 11,000 specimens by 1988, its present population of 500 specimens today being due to a scabies outbreak.
Of birds, the Griffon vulture and Golden eagle stand out, as well as the Osprey, (this is in the process of restocking). Of reptiles the Valvere lizard and Hocicuda snake are of note.
The largest continuous forest, and more specifically of pine forest, in Spain, lies in these mountains. There are examples of almost all species, (the most abundant being Pinus nigra), and the oldest specimens in Europe. These species were partially repopulated after the declaration of the Sierra de Segura as a Maritime Province in 1748 and the massive use of wood from its forests for shipbuilding. Its growth has been favored by abundant rainfall .We find, as a relic of the ancient Mediterranean forests, Aleppo pine, accompanied by strawberry trees and bushes up to an altitude of 900 mts.,
In the upper altitudes there are Oak forests, Gall and important areas of Maritime pine. In the wetter areas we can find examples of ancient Yew and Holly, both extremely rare in Spain. On the banks of the rivers are Ash, Willows, Poplars, reeds and cattails that shelter waterfowl and small mammals. This Park contains some of the richest flora of the entire Mediterranean basin. Of the more than 1,300 listed species, 24 are exclusive to this territory, such as the Cazorla Violet (Viola Cazorlensis), a unique carnivorous plant (Pinguicula vallisnerifolia), and others like the Geranium Cazorlensis or the Aquilegia Cazorlensis.
Within the park is the Torre del Vinagre Botanic Garden, where you can learn about the most typical plants, all properly labeled.