Municipality: Santa Elena
Regions: Campiña Norte de Jaén
Altitude: 1.064 m
Los Órganos Natural Monument is located in the Despeñaperros Natural Park; more specifically, in the municipality of Santa Elena, in the north of the province of Jaén. Declared a natural monument on 23 November 2001, this enclave is also considered a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) to protect its almost 85 hectares of land.
The Despeñaperros Gorge is known for being the busiest gateway to Andalusia. However, it is also the site of emblematic places and spectacular landscapes, as is the case of the natural monument of Los Órganos.
This place acquires its peculiar name due to its shape: a set of enormous vertical columns of quartzite rock that resemble in their entirety the great organ pipes of the most representative cathedral of the Gothic style.
This phenomenon is not an isolated event and is known as basaltic organs or basaltic columns. They are formations of volcanic origin, generally hexagonal in shape, created by eruptions thousands and thousands of millions of years ago. The weathering of these rocks, caused by water and wind erosion, give rise to this natural phenomenon of great geological and geomorphological interest.
The chromatic contrast of the grey of the rocks of the organs with the intense yellow and orange of the surviving species of lichen, a kind of fungus, only adds to the beauty of this place.
From its viewpoint, which has the same name, you can appreciate the astonishing dimensions of the natural monument Los Órganos. The origin of this natural phenomenon can be found 500 million years ago, when the whole area was covered by a sea of epochal depth. It is thanks to this shallow depth that the area was filled with sands and clays brought by the rivers that flowed into the area.
When the forces of the earth, 300 million years ago, brought this land to the surface, the erosion of the river, the rains and the wind that have been occurring since then have been sculpting the relief, creating these beautiful shapes.
On these rocks, the most common vegetation of the Mediterranean forest, such as holm oaks, cork oaks and scrubland, have found a suitable place to live, accompanied by genets, martens and numerous other birds of prey.
The natural monument Los Organos has been a place of settlement for many civilisations throughout history. In fact, prehistoric man left an important legacy in the form of cave paintings that are still present today.
In the natural monument Los Órganos, in the heart of the Despeñaperros Natural Park, a series of activities can be carried out:
- Caves. If on the outside the natural monument of Los Órganos is impressive, imagine being able to discover it from the inside!
- Geotourism. Be amazed by the footprints carved into the rock by millions of years of history, even before the first man appeared.
- Hiking. Take a shoe and dare to discover step by step the ancestral paths that have left their mark on the past, present and future.
In the natural monument Los Órganos you can follow the Cueva de los Muñecos trail, which has two branches:
- The first one, in an ascending direction, takes us from the Municipal Centre of Historical and Cultural Heritage "El Aprisco" to the Cerro del Castillo. The culture of the Iberians is represented at every step along this path.
- The second one, going downhill, takes us from the Municipal Centre of Historical and Cultural Heritage "El Aprisco" to the Iberian Sanctuary of Collado de los Jardines. Numerous figurines have been found here, representing priests, warriors, women and men, etc. The final stretch of the path is full of holes, so we must be extremely careful. When we reach the end, we will discover the Cueva de los Muñecos (Cave of the Dolls).
Once we have visited the monument of Los Órganos, we can make the most of our visit and go to the Cimbarra Waterfall, the Valdeazores Ravine, the Arroyo Martín Pérez Recreational Area, the La Aliseda Recreational Area or the El Empeadrillo Roman Road.