Altitude: 397 m
The El Piélago natural monument is located to the north of the municipality of Linares, between the border areas of this municipality and Vilches. It is an area of almost seven hectares, 6.71 hectares to be precise, and was declared a natural monument on 1 October 2003 by the Junta de Andalucía (Regional Government of Andalusia).
In addition to being a natural monument, El Piélago is of extraordinary natural, scenic and historical value. The river Guarrizas accompanies the construction in the vicinity of Sierra Morena, when it comes into contact with the surrounding countryside.
The special scenic and historical interest of the natural monument El Piélago lies in its connection with the mythical Roman bridge of Vadollano. This Asset of Cultural Interest dates back to the 3rd century BC and forms part of the route of the Via Augusta, which connected the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome, with Gades, what we all know today as the city of Cadiz.
The river Guarrizas, upstream, stops its current, causing quiet places where its water flows slowly. When it reaches the Vadollano bridge, however, the waters of the river draw a rugged landscape where the Guarrizas river is encased in large granite blocks. It is here, due to the unevenness of the land, that the two small waterfalls originate, which amaze everyone who visits the area.
When you pass the waterfalls, the waters of the river join again in a deep pool.
Further downstream from the Roman bridge of Vadollano, we are lucky enough to find the ruins of what was once a chocolate factory. The strategic location of the factory meant that it used the motive force of the water of the river Guarrizas to generate energy.
The surroundings of this natural monument consist of a landscape of granite rocks, through which the Guarrizas river (belonging to the Guadalquivir river basin) cascades in two impressive waterfalls. In fact, all the locals know this phenomenon as the Linares step.
The natural monument El Piélago enjoys an intense and well-preserved riverside vegetation. It is surrounded by a forest of wild olive trees, typical of the area, with the presence of ash trees and an interesting avian fauna.
The ash trees in the area have the characteristic of having remarkable carvings with colossal shadows that invite visitors to rest. There, together with the continuous murmur of the flowing water, we can make out in the sky the spectacular flight of unique birds of the area, such as the black kite, the white wagtail, the grey heron, the mallard...
How to get there
To get to El Piélago natural monument, leave Linares and take the A-312 regional road towards Arquillos. It is a very simple and easy route: when we have passed the Vadollano railway station, on the outskirts of the municipality, we will find a turning on the left. This is the direction to take, as the turn-off leads directly to the site.
It is even very common to see horsemen and horsewomen with their horses along the way.