Nature and culture
Las Sierras de Béjar y Francia received the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation in 2006, and are located less than an hour by car from the historic centre of the World Heritage city of Salamanca. The reserve forms part of the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Nature Reserve and the Quilamas and Candelario nature areas.
This reserve is located in the centre of Spain, in the southeast of the province of Salamanca, in the region of Castile-León. The landscape has green leafy forests and steep mountains, with altitudes ranging between 360 and 2,425 metres. Here you will also find numerous unique and outstanding places such as the forest of strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) at Miranda del Castañar, one of the oldest and largest in Europe; also Peña de Francia, an extraordinary natural viewing point located almost 1,800 metres above sea level, home to a 15th-century Dominican monastery. The fauna in this area includes such vitally important species as the Iberian lynx, the black stork and the black vulture. Also worth noting is the wide variety of native amphibians and reptiles to be found here, such as Schreiber’s green lizard and the Iberian newt.
What you need to know
Visitors to this nature area will also be able to enjoy its wealth of artistic and cultural resources. Options include discovering the interesting traditional architecture and monuments to be found in some of the region’s towns and villages, such as La Alberca, Miranda del Castañar and Béjar, the last of which is also on the Silver Route.
There are a variety of ecosystems to be found here, and particularly an abundance of well-conserved Mediterranean-type oak, chestnut, ash and strawberry-tree forests.
Information for visits
The Sierra de Francia visitor centre is in the village of San Martín del Castañar, and information on routes and activities in the Sierra de Béjar is available at the tourist office in Béjar. Cycle touring, hiking and skiing at the nearby La Covatilla resort are just some of the options available.