Sierra Morena

Sierra Morena

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Sierra Morena

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The Sierra Morena is one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain.It stretches for 400 kilometres East-West across southern Spain, forming the southern border of the Meseta Central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, and providing the watershed between the valleys of the Guadiana to the north and the Guadalquivir to the south.


The Sierra Morena is the result of uplift produced by the pressure of the northward-moving African Plate.It has valuable deposits of lead, silver, mercury, and other metals, some of which have been exploited since prehistoric times. The ancient Iberians used their mountain passes as a passage between the high plateau in the north and the Guadalquivir basin.

Situated within the province of Jaén, the Despeñaperros, an abrupt canyon created by the Despeñaperros River, with sheer walls over 500 metres high, is the natural path for crossing the Sierra Morena into Andalusia from the north of the peninsula.

In literature

The Sierra Morena mountains were notorious in former times for being a haunt of bandits and highwaymen.It has been referenced in the novel Don Quixote, wherein Sancho Panza suggests it to be a refuge from the Holy Brotherhood after Don Quixote frees a group of galley slaves. In Voltaire's satire Candide, the main characters stop there on their escape from Lisbon (chapter 9-10). Nikolay Karamzin's 1793 prose "Sierra-Morena", where the Russian writer tells...
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