Sierra Morena

Sierra Morena

Sierra Morena, mountain range, SW Spain, extending c.375 mi (600 km) eastward along the southern edge of the Meseta (central plateau) from the Portuguese border to the Sierra de Alcaraz. Its highest peak is Bañuelo (c.4,340 ft/1,320 m). Partly forested with oak and chestnut trees, the range is also rich in a great variety of minerals, including copper, lead, and coal. The Sierra Morena is crossed by highways and railroads built to take the minerals out of the region. The Despeñaperros Pass is the main route through the mountains, linking Castile and Andalusia.
The Sierra Morena is a mountain range which stretches for 400 km East-West across southern Spain, forming the border of the central plateau (Meseta Central) of Iberia, and providing the watershed between the valleys of the Guadiana to the north and the Guadalquivir to the south.

The name is also applied to the highest point on Kings Mountain in San Mateo County, California in the U.S., as identified by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Sierra Morena is the result of uplift produced by the pressure of the northward-moving African Plate. It has valuable deposits of lead, silver, mercury, and other metals, some of which have been exploited since prehistoric times.

Situated within the province of Jaén, the abrupt pass created by the River Despeñaperros, with sheer walls over 500 metres high, is the natural path for crossing the Sierra Morena into Andalusia from the north of the peninsula.

Much of its natural beauty is now protected in natural parks, such as Despeñaperros, Sierra de Andújar (Jaén), Sierra de Cardeña-Montoro, Sierra de Hornachuelos, Sierra Madrona, Sierra Norte de Sevilla and Sierra de Aracena Huelva.

It has been referenced in the novel Don Quixote, wherein Sancho Panza suggests it to be a refuge from the Holy Brotherhood after Don Quixote frees a group of galley slaves. Nikolay Karamzin's 1793 prose "Sierra-Morena", where the Russian writer tells of a love story between the author and young Elvira, is also dedicated to the mountain range.

The famous song "Cielito Lindo" mentions the Sierra Morena.

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