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Did you know that... the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

 

Impressive massif of limestone rocks that the rivers Guareña and Trema have been in charge of drilling into its interior and originating the karstic complex of Ojo Guareña, rises on the southern slope of the Cantabrian Mountain Range, north of the province of Burgos, forming part of the Merindad de Sotoscueva. The Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña is made up of a complex network of galleries, some of them connected to each other, forming a network of 110 kilometres that extend over several levels. It is the largest set of caves in the Iberian Peninsula and can be included among the ten largest in the world. The magnitude of this complex, of an extraordinary morphological, hydrological and scientific interest, and the archaeological importance that it has, have made it be declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1970 and in 1996, in addition, the natural area of Ojo Guareña has become a Natural Monument. Inside there are many archaeological sites of great importance ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages. Paintings, engravings and traces of the Upper Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age have been found, as well as ceramics from the Roman period and remains of habitat from the Middle Ages.

Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

A little more history

 

One of the most important finds, as well as being unique in Spain and Europe, is the barefoot prints in the Sala de las Huellas (Footsteps Room). In an area of around 400 metres, footprints can be found in both directions. Religious values are also present in Ojo Guareña, as can be seen in the cave of San Bernabé. The name of the merindad of which it forms part also seems to revolve around the caves "Sotoscueva".

 

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What to see in the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña?

 

To understand and enjoy more and, if possible, better than what the Ojo Guareña complex offers is a good option to approach the House of the Park, located in Quintanilla del Rebollar occupying the building of the old schools. Afterwards, in the cave of San Bernabé, formerly known as Río Escondido, which is one of the fourteen caves that make up the 110-kilometre network, and which houses the semi-cave hermitage of San Tirso and San Bernabé, you can admire a popular artistic activity. 

Hermitage of San Bernabé in the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

The visit

 

The guided tour begins with the cave where you begin to understand the greatness of the natural space in which we move. A few small pools accumulate the water, they say that with healing powers, it filters into the cave; washing with it can cure eye problems or eczema in the skin. Some enigmatic holes, which have the shape of a truncated cone widening downwards, speak of how the grain and diverse fruits were stored in them, that is to say, they acted as silos and pantries. Upon entering the hermitage, a pleasant surprise floods us with admiration, its mural paintings. Painted on the same rock in the year 1705, in the central part of the vault they relate the martyrdom of Saint Tirso; and in the area of the low relief of the walls it is the miracles of Saint Barnabas and Saint Tirso that are represented.  The first archive of the town hall is also kept here, with its original coat of arms from the 17th century, year 1616, as the place was the seat of the consistory until the middle of the 20th century, and was also used as a prison. 60 meters below the cave you can see the cause of the name of the place, Ojo Guareña, is the sumidero-ojo where the river Guareña stops running on the surface to submerge and flow underground thus continuing with its millenary work of excavation and formation of the caves of this fantastic karst of the Natural Monument, in which the river Trema has also had something to do.

Cave of San Bernabé in the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

To discover

 

The other cave that can be visited, that of Palomera, is a real underground hiking incursion, with different sections of routes and duration, adapted to the peculiarities of the visitor. The access ramp, with its 40 metres of unevenness, together with the small caving equipment, water boots, helmet, headlight...with which we will have to equip ourselves, already gives us an idea of the environment where we are going to move. Culture, nature and a bit of adventure tourism are intermingled as we go through different rooms where we will discover archaeological sites, cave paintings, waterfalls, stalactites ..., without forgetting the inhabitants of the place, trying to discover in them the endemic species that live here. The Fountain Room is characterized by its natural steps, the Wax Museum, the Cacique Room... After about an hour's walk you reach the Sima Dolencia, which is another of the main entrances to the caves, where a large number of animal bones were found and converted into phosphates. The San Martín stream precipitates through it, offering a beautiful spectacle in times of rain or thaw. In the Via Seca was found the skeleton of a young person who could enter the cave back in the sixth century BC and then found no way out. In the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña nature sports and hiking are guaranteed, and from its viewpoints you can see and admire all its majestic surroundings.

Surroundings and villages of the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

Traditions

 

On the Sunday after 11 June, the feast day of San Bernabé, a traditional pilgrimage is held in the cave hermitage of San Tirso y San Bernabé. A typical act of it was that, after the religious service, the children were soaked with the curative waters of the cave.

 

Curiosities

 

The Palomera Cave, in the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña, was opened to the public for the first time in November of the year 2.013 becoming the largest visitable cave in Spain.

Walk to the Sumidero del Guareña in the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

Useful information for visiting the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña

 

To visit the Palomera Cave it is essential to reserve in advance

  • The visit will be of reduced frequency and with a limited number of visitors, approximately 20 people per group with a daily limit. 
  • The start of the visit will be in the car park "El Alto de la Concha", which is located approximately 600 meters from the entrance of the cavity. At this point the guides will be waiting for the visitors.
  • The visit lasts approximately 4 hours. But there is the possibility of a shorter tour.
  • It is necessary to wear appropriate footwear, with rubber soles and drawing to avoid slips and of course warm clothing.
  • It is advisable to be in good physical shape.
  • For more information and reservations the phone numbers are 947 138 755 - 645 490 288 or email cuevasojoguarena.sanbernabe@gmail.com

 

To visit the Cueva Ermita de San Bernabé, which has different timetables depending on whether it is summer or winter, it is advisable to book

  • Tickets are sold at the box office next to the Cave.
  • Tours are always guided and last 45 minutes. 
  • Maximum groups are 30 people.
  • Comfortable shoes and warm clothes are recommended, the interior temperature ranges between 11 and 13 degrees Celsius. 
  • The information telephone numbers are 645 490 288 or 947 138 755. The following e-mail address is also available: cuevasojoguarena.sanbernabe@gmail.com

 

The Park House of the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña is in Quintanilla del Rebollar - Merindad de Sotoscueva.

 

 

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The Legend

 

Legend has it that the skeleton found in the Vía Seca is that of a Gothic king who, while hunting around the place, saw a shepherdess and was enchanted by her beauty. The zagala when seeing herself persecuted entered the cave and the Goth king behind her penetrated in the labyrinthine place and they say that during days, of the entrails of the caverns shouts of help came out, but of the enamored king nothing was heard again. When his skeleton was discovered, it was seen how he tried to find his way out, because he found marks of footprints, footprints of his knees when he tried to crawl through narrow cavities, and even how he made a small dam in order to get water. But the poor king died lost and of starvation inside the cave.

 

 

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Get to the car park of the Alto de la Concha o de San Bernabé

 

To get to the small town of Cueva, before the Ojo Guareña complex formed by the hermitage and the cave of San Bernabé, we have to do it through the BU-526 road that joins the national N-232, at Soncillo, with the N-629 in Bercedo. Both national ones communicate Santander and Laredo, respectively, with Oña and later with Pancorbo in the N-1. It is in this BU-526 where after passing through Espinosa de los Monteros, Quintanilla del Rebollar or Pedrosa de Valdeporres, Vallejo de Sotoscueva depending on our point of origin, we will find the road that leads to Cueva, from there ascend to Ojo Guareña where we will have, in its highest part, parking areas near the initial point of the route. Through this same road but by its other slope, following local roads, we can also reach Ojo Guareña from towns such as Villarcayo or Puentedey among others.

 

Once there

 

This zone of the Natural Monument of Ojo Guareña has several zones of parking where we will be able to leave our vehicle. From them we can approach to visit the cave and the hermitage of San Bernabé or the Cave of Palomera. Also through the various roads that we can access to this area also lead to the rest of corners of this wide natural area.

 

 

 


SENDITUR is not responsible for any variation in the information described, as well as for the misuse of its guides and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. Likewise, we invite you to document yourself with books and specialized guides to complement the information described. From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go. For any suggestion, SENDITUR invites you to send an email to

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Listado de experiencias
Roberto Ruiz
Created the 08-08-2016
(5)

Una maravilla de zona, no me la esperaba así.

List of Routes
  • Closeness
  • First name
  • Difficulty
  • Distance
  • Duration
  • Assessment
PATHS CULTURAL HERITAGE NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Medium

2:40 h.10.4 km.

Path of the Ventanón
Difficulty-MediumGreen difficulty category, level 3. Excursions of moderate distance and slope, not exceeding either great distances or slopes.
IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Low

0:15 h.0.8 km.

Waterfall of Mea
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Adapted

0:15 h.0.32 km.

Lookout of the Gándara River Waterfalls
Difficulty-AdaptedGreen difficulty category, level 1. Itineraries conditioned and prepared for the use and enjoyment of persons with reduced mobility.
PATHS NATURAL HERITAGE
2
Difficulty-Moderate

2:35 h.9.4 km.

Birth of the Asón River
Difficulty-ModerateRed difficulty category, level 1. More demanding courses, either because they are longer, more slope or have a specific difficulty.
IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Low

0:20 h.1.4 km.

Blue Well
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
PATHS IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Low

1:00 h.4 km.

Walk of the Oca
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
MOUNTAIN CULTURAL HERITAGE NATURAL HERITAGE
2
Difficulty-Moderate

3:10 h.10.4 km.

Gorge of the Purón River
Difficulty-ModerateRed difficulty category, level 1. More demanding courses, either because they are longer, more uneven or have a specific difficulty.
IN FAMILY CULTURAL HERITAGE NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Low

0:30 h.1.5 km.

Walk of the Molinar
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
FLORA AND FAUNA IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
2
Difficulty-Low

1:50 h.6.7 km.

Jump of the Nervión
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
IN FAMILY NATURAL HERITAGE
1
Difficulty-Adapted

0:20 h.0.9 km.

Waterfall of Gujuli or Goiuri
Difficulty-AdaptedGreen difficulty category, level 1. Itineraries conditioned and prepared for the use and enjoyment of people with reduced mobility.
TOURISM
0
Difficulty-Low

96:00 h.393 km.

Route through the charming villages of Burgos
Difficulty-LowGreen difficulty category, level 2. Short walks, with little slope and without difficulties.
Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco
Manzanedo, Burgos
Monastery of Santa María de Rioseco

One of the most beautiful ruins of Merindades

Cave of Covalanas
Ramales de la Victoria, Cantabria
Cave of Covalanas
Cave of Cullalvera.
Ramales de la Victoria, Cantabria
Cave of Cullalvera.
Natural Park of Valderejo
Lalastra, Álava - Araba
Natural Park of Valderejo

It is the smallest of the natural parks of Alava.

The Salt Flats of Poza de la Sal
Poza de la Sal, Burgos
The Salt Flats of Poza de la Sal
Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Holm oak
Artziniega, Álava - Araba
Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Holm oak
See restaurants in Puentedey
Puentedey, Burgos
See restaurants in Puentedey

Puentedey, Burgos

See accommodation in Puentedey
Puentedey, Burgos
See accommodation in Puentedey

Puentedey, Burgos

See things to do in Puentedey
Puentedey, Burgos
See things to do in Puentedey

Puentedey, Burgos

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