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«Pirineos-Monte Perdido»

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This will cross-reference all available documents in our data base related to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ordesa Valley

The source of the Arazas River is in the very heart of the Monte Perdido or Treserols massif. It descends through perhaps the best-known and most popular valley on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The landscapes in the valley are so magnificent that it was declared the second national park in Spain in 1918, just a month after the Covadonga Mountain National Park.


Lucien Briet left us a valuable legacy of numerous photographs and writings that record the beauty and life of these mountains in the early 20th century. This is how he described the Ordesa Valley:
"In the Ordesa Valley, the most varied aspects are gathered together in marked gradations of vigour, hues, grace and beauty. How often, stretched out in the meadow in true ecstasy, in the infinite state of blessedness to which our spirit inclines, weary of earthly life, captivated by this palace of nature, have I felt as if I had been taken into the bosom of the Lord."
This valley is of glacial origin, as demonstrated by its characteristic U-shape. Immense tongues of ice travelled down it in the Quaternary Period, descending from the highest areas of the massif and following an unusual east-west direction. The tongue of the main glacier was fed by other smaller secondary tongues, such as the Carriata or Cotatuero glacier.

When the ice retreated at the end of the last ice age, various forms were revealed, among them glacial cirques, such as the Soaso Cirque, and sheer rock faces, such as Tozal del Mallo, Tobacor and Gallinero.


The valley extends for a total of 13 km from Góriz Cirque to Navarros Bridge, where its waters join those of the Ara River. The Sierra de las Cutas, the highest peak of which, Punta Acuta, reaches an altitude of 2,242 m, borders Ordesa Valley to the south.
The eye is drawn to the brownish-red rocky walls of Mondarruego, Gallinero, Fraucata and Calcilarruego and to the characteristic horizontal stratification of the limestone, which has resulted in the formation of various grassy terraces hanging over the void, such as the Faja de las Flores and the Faja de Pelay.

The waters of the Arazas River run down the bottom of the valley, giving rise to the pronounced narrowing typical of fluviokarst canyons.

It drops a considerable height over a very short distance, resulting in a string of waterfalls such as Cola de Caballo, Gradas de Soaso, El Estrecho, La Cueva, Arripas, Abetos, Tamborrotera and Molinieto.

All around are forests that have survived virtually unspoiled in their natural state. This is especially true of the forests of Scots pine, which do well on the slopes exposed to the sun. Beech forests are to be found in shadier areas, while fir trees and Spanish pine grow in steeper, higher spots.