INTRODUCTION TO THE COUREL MOUNTAINS UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK

MAIN EVENTS IN THE GEOLOGICAL HISTORY OF GALICIA. (SPIRAL OF TIME).

  • First rocks of Galicia represented by the zircons of Cabo Ortegal and Ordes.
  • Formation of the Fold of the Courel. Formation of the Malpica-Tui unit. The current lands of Galicia are united for the first time.
  • Location of the granites of Galicia.
  • The opening of the Atlantic Ocean begins.
  • Hesperian Massif (western half of Iberia), the only landmass where Iberian dinosaurs lived.
  • Second intense erosive stage.
  • The convergence process of the northern edge of the Iberian Peninsula and the formation of the basin of the Pontes begins.
  • The Sierra del Courel begins to rise.
  • The river Sil begins to fit in its bed.
  • First fauna in the Pontes.
  • Formation of lignites in Galicia.
  • End of the formation of the Galician estuaries.
  • First human remains found in the Courel.
  • Roman gold mining.
  • Destruction of the Fragas del Courel by the sliding steel industry ??.
  • The deterioration of several areas of the Courel begins due to the slate quarries.

UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARKS

What is a UNESCO World Geopark?

A geopark is a geographically well-defined territory (578 km2 in our case, following the municipal limits), which includes landscapes and places of international geological relevance, and which is managed according to the concepts of protection, education and sustainable development, thus generating its own economic development.

Through awareness of the importance of its geological heritage and in relation to other natural aspects and cultural heritage, UNESCO Global Geoparks disseminate and interpret key factors related to the sustainable use of natural resources or the mitigation of the effects of climate change. Therefore, they provide the public with the keys to understand both the processes of geological, ecological, archaeological, ethnographic, historical, industrial relevance, etc. Of particular importance in this regard are geosites, places of particular attraction due to their great geological interest.

Each geopark is a new way to enjoy the natural environment through geotourism. This, in turn, is an important opportunity for local and regional economic activity. As for the future, from geoparks we also work on teaching geological values ​​to the little ones, for example through different geoconservation initiatives.

Spain has 15 UNESCO Global Geoparks covering a total area of more than 20,000 Km2. The UNESCO Global Geoparks Network includes 147 territories in 41 countries. Data corresponding to 2020.

Courel Mountains UNESCO Global Geopark

On April 11, 2019, the Courel Mountains Geopark, born from the union of the municipalities of Folgoso do Courel, Quiroga and Ribas de Sil, was officially incorporated into the European and Global networks of UNESCO Geoparks (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Science and Culture). It was in recognition of the geological richness of this region as a basis for the local development of its entire territory.

The main global contribution of this geopark is its tectonic, geological and mineralogical character in which the Global Geosite Lying folds of the Serra do Courel stand out internationally. In addition, it is as a whole a place of recognized international reference for the intimate connection between geological heritage and human beings, as evidenced by its extraordinary natural and cultural heritage. 52% of the Courel Mountains are, on the other hand, protected by the Sites of Community Interest Ancares-Courel and Central Massif of Galicia, the Natural Site of Tourist Interest Devesa da Rogueira and the Natural Monument of Galicia Geological Fold of Campodola-Leixazós.

When you visit our geopark.

  1. Approach the geopark from the Sil Valley with Mediterranean vegetation, to the most remote wetlands in the north, with deciduous forests, waterfalls and embedded rivers.
  2. Discover the heart of an ancient great mountain range, in whose Paleozoic entrails large folded folds were formed, such as the Serra do Courel, of international interest.
  3. Explore the footprints of the ancient glaciers that occupied our mountains, now dominated by leafy, warm and humid forests, where chestnut, oak, hazel or holly are its protagonists.
  4. Learn how humans colonized the Courel Mountains, using more than seven types of native rocks to build pre-roman forts, castles and today’s traditional villages, from their foundations to slate roofs.
  5. Find the gold mines that financed the Roman Empire, and how the Romans dared to divert the river Sil underground and draw miles of water channels to extract such precious metal.
  6. Be surprised by the strength of the water used to model the Courel iron in pre-industrial smithies, as well as cereals in water mills, some of which are still in operation.
  7. Get involved in the wildest nature, whether walking in the mountains or practicing sport climbing on limestone, canyoning in our embedded rivers, and caving through underground rivers and vertical chasms.
  8. And, finally, taste the geology through the traditional Galician cuisine, complemented by red and white wines of the Ribeira Sacra, the traditional oil of Quiroga from unknown olive trees, the cooked and dried chestnuts of the Courel, as well as the honey, once protected by high walls from the onslaught of brown bears, which are once again inhabiting our mountains in harmony.