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El Montseny Natural Park


El Montseny Natural Park is located in the Catalan Pre-coastal mountain range, of which this massif is the highest part. It covers an area of 31,063.94 hectares, spread over eighteen municipalities in three regions (Osona, La Selva and El Vallès Oriental).


The relief of El Montseny starts with elevations of under 200 metres on the eastern side that rise to just over 1,700 m. The Tordera river divides the mountain into three large subunits: El Pla de la Calma and Puig Drau (1,344 m) in the West, the peak of El Matagalls (1,693 m) in the North, and Pic de les Agudes (1,706 m) and Turó de l´Home (1,707 m), the massif´s highest peak, in the East.


The broken mosaic formed by the diverse terrain gives the Natural Park its great scenic and biological wealth of mountain ranges, streams, woods, cropland and high plains. The presence of Man in the area from remote times has modelled a humanised landscape showing even more the partitioning of the mountain.


The management plan for El Montseny Natural Park, promoted by Barcelona and Girona Provincial Councils, is based on balancing the conservation of the natural systems and cultural heritage, compatible social and economic development, and regulated public use, and on the commitment to the project of participating municipalities, local government offices, and groups associated with the region.


The Special Plan for the Protection of the Natural Environment and Landscape of El Montseny Natural Park became effective on 31 January 2009. This plan replaced that approved in 1977 (Barcelona province) and 1978 (Girona province), which had been in force for 30 years and needed review in order to adapt it to changes in the principles of protecting the natural environment, to new environmental, planning and urban regulations, and to the natural and social reality of El Montseny. The plan is intended to provide a tool to make El Montseny a vital, dynamic region, where protection of the natural environment is compatible with the quality of life of the people who live there and the enjoyment of visitors.


In 1978, UNESCO included El Montseny in the MAB (Man and Biosphere) World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The physical environment


El Montseny, rising between the plains of El Vallès, Osona and La Selva, is a mountainous mass with a characteristic form, dominating and visible from many parts of Catalonia, known everywhere for the beauty of the scenery.

The special configuration of the terrain, the altitude and gradients and the distance from the sea, at a typically Mediterranean latitude, form conditions for considerable climatic diversity.

In summary, one can say that, as the altitude increases, the climate changes from Mediterranean to cold mountain, with different intermediate stages and vary ing according to the aspect of the slopes.

Vegetation


The differences in humidity and temperature explain the vegetation that thrives on El Montseny. In the form of zones, and as the altitude rises, the characteristic Mediterranean plant formations are found in the lower parts (holm oaks, cork oaks and pinewoods), rainy middle mountain types higher up (mountain holm oak and oak), Central European environment at over 1,000 m, (beech woods and groves of fir), and finally sub-alpine habitat at the summit (thickets and high meadows).

The confluence of these factors in an area of broken contours, sliced through by streams and cliffs, produces an extraordinary variety of habitats. Different relict species are to be found on El Montseny, the last site on which they settle. The area therefore has high ecological value and features the presence of some remarkable examples of endemism.

Fauna


El Montseny is a place of refuge for a number of species typical of higher-latitude (Central European) environments. The massif is the southern limit of their area of distribution in Catalonia.

The woodland character of El Montseny determines to a large extent the fauna that live there. Among the holm oaks are the wild boar, the fox, the genet and the dormouse, among the best-known mammals; among the most common birds are the goshawk, jay, and robin, and there are various species of amphibians, reptiles and fish. The Park´s most remarkable species is the Montseny brook newt, which was discovered only a few years ago and is the massif´s only endemic vertebrate.

Human occupation and heritage


Evidence of initial settlements on El Montseny, which date from the Palaeolithic Age, may be found at the Riera de Breda, El Congost, El Brull, El Montseny and Sant Marçal. There are also megaliths from the Neolithic period on the Serra de l'Arca, and at Les Pinedes, among other sites.

In the Iberian period, the area surrounding the massif was occupied and stable settlements appeared on some hills, which saw the construction of fortifications, such as the walls on the hill of Montgròs, in the municipality of El Brull, and the different fortified settlements of Montclús at Sant Esteve de Pa lautordera, Can Fle quer at Samalús, and La Mora Tower at Sant Feliu de Buixalleu.

From the Roman period there remain buildings such as the Roman villa at Can Tarrés (La Garriga) and others on the neighbouring plains, all along the line of the Via Augusta and the Via Ausa.

It was not until the Middle Ages that the more inland establishments became generalised and dispersed and the exploitation of the natural resources was intensified. Most of the existing farmhouses date from this period.

This period reached its height in the 19th century, after which there began a slow process of depopulation.

At present, the decrease in agricultural, forestry and stockbreeding activities has brought about a change in family economies. Other activities, basically services, such as rural tourism, restaurants and catering supplement family incomes, and are combined with the extensive country culture of the area.

The Middle Ages are well represented, with Romanesque examples of religious architecture in more than a dozen little mountain temples. Of particular interest are the church with pre-Romanesque paintings at Sant Pere Desplà (Arbúcies), and the parish churches of Montseny, El Brull, La Mora, Sant Marçal, Sant Cristòfol de la Castanya, Sant Martí de Montseny, Aiguafreda de Dalt and Sant Cristòfol de Cerdans. Significant remains of military buildings include the castles of Montsoriu (the country´s most important example of military architecture of the Gothic period from the tenth to fourteenth centuries), and of Montclús, Fluvià, El Brull Cruïlles, and the fortified farmhouses of Bellver and La Sala. There are also sites such as the one at Tagamanent, with constructions from the Roman and Gothic periods, or the one at Sant Segimon, an important 17th-century hermitage.

Activities


One of the fundamental objectives of El Montseny Natural Park is to guarantee and manage public use. In this respect, from the beginning, the park has been endowed with a network of facilities and amenities supplying environmental education, research, sport and leisure.

 

Excursions

 

From the information centres in the Natural Park the visitor can fi nd out about trails, points of interest and other useful details for the full enjoyment of time spent there. Every Sunday, there is a service of guided walks through the park. The park is also crossed by three long-hike trails, marked on the land by red and white markings: the GR 5, which crosses El Montseny from Campins to Aiguafreda, passing through Fontmartina, Montseny and Pla de la Calma; the GR 83, which passes through Riells and Arbúcies, and the GR 2, which passes through Seva, El Brull and Aiguafreda.

Complete itineraries information may be found at itineraries on foot which may be consulted on the Internet.

 

Services for leisure

 

For the users' leisure, the Natural Park has a series of infrastructures and facilities throughout the road network, in the most frequented places. Video fi lms and permanent exhibitions give more detailed information about the park. On the roads crossing the park there are parking areas and leisure areas for the use of the visitors, some of which have toilets, tables and drinking water available. An extensive range of tourist services is available on the mountain. To stay for more than one day, the visitor can choose between campsites, hotels and rural accommodation.

This information may be found in greater detail and updated at Park Agenda which may be consulted on the Internet.

Information


El Montseny Natural Park Office. Masia Mariona
Mosqueroles. BV- 5119, km 2,5
08479 Fogars de Montclús
Tel. +34938 475 102
Fax +34938 475 368
E-mail: p.montseny@diba.cat
Opening hours: Workdays from 9 am to 4 pm (Closed in Christmas and New Year's Eve)
'Patxot Universe' permanent exhibition
Video film: Man and El Montseny

Access


Equipment and services


Recommendations


  • Respect agriculture and livestock as they are the livelihood of many inhabitants of this park.
  • Use the network of signposted tracks and paths. Vehicles, bicycles and horses must not be driven or ridden off roads and tracks for public use. Remember that the maximum permitted speed is 30 km/h. Do not block the way when stopping your car.
  • Enjoy the park and preserve the natural and architectural wealth.
  • El Montseny Natural Park is an ideal place for openair activities and sport. For your safety, take the precautions appropriate for the activity you intend to undertake.
  • Respect the peace and quiet, especially of bird nesting places. Do not make unnecessary noise.
  • Hunting and fishing are regulated by law and are only allowed in designated hunting and fishing preserves.
  • Abandoning pets and exotic species is cruel and punishable by law.
  • Chestnuts are both an economic resource for their owners and also a food for many animal species. Collect them in moderation and upon authorisation from the trees' owners.
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a rare tree that provides shelter and food for many species of animals. It is protected by law and collection of both the tree and parts thereof is penalised.
  • Remember that burning branches and other materials, throwing fireworks, lighting fires and barbecues in the forest areas and in a radius of 500 metres are expressly prohibited (except in the period of the year in which the law so allows and with prior authorisation from the competent body).
  • Do not throw away rubbish. Use the bins or containers provided or those of nearby villages.
  • No wilderness camping, including camper vans, of any kind is permitted If you wish to camp, you must have a permit; the town councils will inform you of how to obtain one.
  • If you gather wild mushrooms or medicinal herbs, do not damage the forest by using tools or by digging in the earth.