Treasures of Spanish lithology

All countries keep true wonders throughout their geography. Undoubtedly, those generated by time and climatological agents on their rocks are the most attractive. Proof of this are the numerous treasures that Spanish lithology presents.

The main lithological domains are siliceous, represented by granitic rocks and mostly located to the west of the peninsula; the limestone, in the eastern zone, and the clayey, accumulated in the main sedimentary basins. In the Canary Islands we find the fourth type, monopolized by rocks of volcanic origin.


Lithology, from the Greek lithos, (‘stone’) and logos (‘study’), is the branch of geology in charge of the physical and chemical characteristics of the rocks existing on Earth. Meanwhile, geomorphology is the branch of geography that is responsible for the study and arrangement of these types of rocks on the earth’s surface.

Starting from these two premises, we are going to highlight some treasures of Spanish lithology that you should write down for your next trips. Don’t miss them!

1. Los Barruecos, treasures of siliceous lithology

If we imagine that the Iberian Peninsula is a cake, the siliceous lithological domain would be the base, the most consistent, the cookie. In this area, mainly located to the west of the peninsula and in mountain areas, we will find crystalline and rigid rocks. These respond to different forms of alteration, according to their altitude and climatological location.

Some of the most representative icons can be found in the province of Cáceres. Los Barruecos is a place that was declared a Natural Monument in 1996 by the Junta de Extremadura.

Over there, the great masses of granite have been fracturing and eroding throughout history, and have formed spectacular berrocals and accumulations of balls at the foot of the mountains. Sometimes, the granite balls are arranged in a capricious way on the slopes and form true granite chaos.

Other examples of great importance can be found in the community of Madrid, in places such as La Pedriza, or in the Sierra de Gredos, with formations such as Los Galayos.

2. The Enchanted City

Limestone or karstic lithology is represented by sedimentary rocks, formed from pre-existing rocks or organisms, deposited after being transported by rivers and oceans. This area would be the cake of the peculiar cake mentioned above.

To the west of the peninsula and forming an inverted Z from the Pre-Pyrenees to Cádiz, the greatest karstic thicknesses are located. The formations are very diverse and respond to the erosion produced by water on rocks of this type.

This lithological domain is represented by formations such as lapiaces or grooves sculpted by runoff, potholes, gorges and sinkholes or cenotes, which are cavities originating in places where water stagnates.

In the province of Cuenca we can enjoy the famous Enchanted city —on the cover—, a spectacular tourist park, where you can learn and learn about the geological process of the karst. In the same way, you will be able to admire its capricious geomorphological formations. Due to its peculiarities, the Enchanted City was declared a Natural Site of National Interest in 1929.

Other landmarks of special tourist interest within the karst are the Ruidera lagoons between Albacete and Ciudad Real, the Cantabrian La Hermida gorge or the Águila Caves.

3. The badlands of Fortuna, icons of clayey lithology

The final decorations of the cake are left to the taste of the consumer. Either way, the clayey lithological domain would be something like melted chocolate on top of previous layers, or even sugar. glass that decorates the last surface of the cake.

Clay rocks are made up of poorly resistant sedimentary materials., such as clays, marls and gypsum deposited at the end of the Tertiary. Its location includes a good part of the depressions and sedimentary basins, and also the coastal plains of the Mediterranean.

Rain and stream water wear away the slopes and the powerful thicknesses of the formations; thus, it generates figures such as gullies, mesas, moors, and solitary witness hills, which are isolated hills with a horizontal ceiling. This whole set, developed over a wide area, is called badlands.

The most curious examples are found in the Region of Murcia, specifically in the municipality of Fortuna, although we can enjoy vestiges of this type in many parts of the country. For example, in the Zamoran town of Toro, in the Barrancas de Burujón in Toledo or in the Granada municipality of Guadix.

4. The Canyons of Teide

To visit landscapes of volcanic nature in Spain, the best option is to do it in the Canary Islands. These were formed during the Tertiary Era, when magma rose through cracks and fractures formed in the seabed, giving rise to the archipelago.

The most characteristic types of relief are volcanic cones, ravines, dikes, badlands and calderas, which are circular craters caused by the collapse of volcanoes.

Undoubtedly, the most famous examples are found on the island of Tenerife, in the Teide National Park. Here we can enjoy hundreds of cones, lava flows and caves that enrich, even more so, its scientific and landscape interest. In addition, this National Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007.

Spain, land of treasures

Of course, the Canary Islands are the icing on the cake that is geomorphological Spain, and that has a thousand and one places, like the ones we have shown you, yet to be discovered and savored.

Nature therefore enjoys absolute freedom to configure authentic formations that run from start to finish in this country, and that they are a real invitation for inveterate travelers who wish to admire them.

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