Tajo de las Figuras Cave
Benalup-Casas Viejas had one of its best periods of splendor in the Prehistory. A prove of this is the several cave paintings that we can find in the caves or the tombs that form this quarry.
Located in Sierra Momia, in a natural environment inside of Los Alcornocales Natural park, in the municipal township of Benalup-Casas Viejas.
They are considered to be the most important station of cave painting in the south of Spain. This pictorial ensemble dates from the end of the Paleolithic and from the 1st period of the Metal Age.
Nowadays you can only access to the Cave of Las Figuras, which gives name to this Quarry. It is considered an authentic prehistoric religious sanctuary.
There are more than 500 figures painted on the walls of this cave, being a great part of them birds, due to the proximity to the already drained Lagoon of La Janda.
The anthropomorphic tombs are engraved on the rocks, in high and flat places, exposed outdoors to the sun. It is suggested the theory by which the tombs were used for the desiccation and removal of the flesh of the corpses before their internment (burial).
TEMPORARILY CLOSED TO VISITS
The Celemín river is the second most important riverbed and tributary of the Barbate river through its left side. It used to flow into the Lagoon of La Janda.
The dam of El Celemín is located in the watershed of the river with the same name. Its construction accomplishes a double purpose: for supplying water to the agricultural area and as protection of possible flooding of the drained areas.
The Recreational Area “El Celemín” offers an ensemble of recreational and cultural offers based upon the environmental and historical resources of the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales.
The Former Lagoon of La Janda Benalup-Casas Viejas
The former lagoon of La Janda was located in the townships of Benalup-Casas Viejas, Vejer de la Frontera, Tarifa, Medina Sidonia and the north of Sierra de Retín. It is located, more concretely, to the south of Benalup-Casas Viejas. The best possible access to it is the road N-340 from Cádiz or Algeciras.
This endorheic area used to form the biggest lagoon of Spain, with one of the richest and most diverse fluvial ecosystems of Europe. A kind weather, the abundant hunting and the fertile valley of the Barbate river made La Janda a privileged habitat for human migrations who entered to the Peninsula through the Strait.
The tries of draining the lagoon have been going on for a long time. In 1967, in full dictatorship of Franco, is when it was achieved the full drainage. In order to guarantee this work, the works of the marshes began: Almodóvar, Celemín and Barbate. Since then the area has been turned into a large rice field divided into private plantations.
This area is still a flow area of migratory birds although dozens of species were deprived of their lake habitat.
We can point that, according to some historians, in its riverbanks it took place the famous battle of La Janda, in which the troops of Tarifa vanquished the king Roderic, which meant the beginning of the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the year 711.
Los Alcornocales Natural Park
Los Alconorcales Natural Park is located in the southeastern side of the province of Cádiz, with a small portion inside of the province of Málaga, more concretely in Cortes de la Frontera. In the province of Cádiz it includes the townships of Benalup-Casas Viejas, Alcalá de los Gazules, Algar, Algeciras, Arcos de la Frontera, Castellar de la Frontera, El Bosque, Jerez de la Frontera, Jimena de la Frontera, Los Barrios, Medina Sidonia, Prado del Rey, San José del Valle, Tarifa and Ubrique.
Benalup-Casas Viejas is the natural access gate to this Park, leading to an emblematic space in the peninsular area as it has been considered as “the last unspoilt jungle of the Mediterranean” or “one of the 10 wonders of the European nature”.
The natural attractive of this park is made up by some exceptional riparian forests able to carry us to subtropical areas which are missing today in the European continent; these are located in the so-called “canutos”.
Most part of the vegetation is colonized by cork oaks, sometimes mixed with wild olive trees, gall-oaks, oaks, etc. It depends on the humidity conditions.
With an approximate area of 170000 hectares, it is the third largest park of the natural spaces protected in Andalucía.