Sierra Morena
The Sierra Morena is one of the main systems of mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

It stretches for 400 kilometres East-West across southern Spain, forming the southern border of the Meseta Central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, and providing the watershed
Water divide
A drainage divide, water divide, divide or watershed is the line separating neighbouring drainage basins...

 between the valleys of the Guadiana
The Guadiana , or Odiana, is an international river located on the Portuguese–Spanish border, separating Extremadura and Andalucia from Alentejo and Algarve...

 to the north and the Guadalquivir
The Guadalquivir is the fifth longest river in the Iberian peninsula and the second longest river to be its whole length in Spain. The Guadalquivir is 657 kilometers long and drains an area of about 58,000 square kilometers...

 to the south.


The Sierra Morena is the result of uplift produced by the pressure of the northward-moving African Plate
African Plate
The African Plate is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of Africa, as well as oceanic crust which lies between the continent and various surrounding ocean ridges.-Boundaries:...

It has valuable deposits of lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

, and other metals, some of which have been exploited since prehistoric times. The ancient Iberians
The Iberians were a set of peoples that Greek and Roman sources identified with that name in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula at least from the 6th century BC...

 used their mountain passes as a passage between the high plateau in the north and the Guadalquivir basin.

Situated within the province of Jaén, the Despeñaperros
Despeñaperros is a gorge or canyon carved out by the Despeñaperros River. It is located in the municipality of Santa Elena in the northern portion of the province of Jaén, Spain...

, an abrupt canyon created by the Despeñaperros River, with sheer walls over 500 metres high, is the natural path
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

 for crossing the Sierra Morena into Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

 from the north of the peninsula.

In literature

The Sierra Morena mountains were notorious in former times for being a haunt of bandits
Bandits is a 2001 American crime-comedy drama film directed by Barry Levinson. It stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett. Filming began in October 2000 and ended in February 2001. It helped Thornton earn a National Board of Review Best Actor Award for 2001...

 and highwaymen.
It has been referenced in the novel Don Quixote, wherein Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza is a fictional character in the novel Don Quixote written by Spanish author Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605. Sancho acts as squire to Don Quixote, and provides comments throughout the novel, known as sanchismos, that are a combination of broad humour, ironic Spanish proverbs,...

 suggests it to be a refuge from the Holy Brotherhood after Don Quixote frees a group of galley slaves. In Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

's satire Candide
Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best ; Candide: or, The Optimist ; and Candide: or, Optimism...

, the main characters stop there on their escape from Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 (chapter 9-10). 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 Sierra Morena was also the setting for the majority of Jan Potocki
Jan Potocki
Count Jan Nepomucen Potocki was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler, adventurer and popular author of the Enlightenment period, whose life and exploits made him a legendary figure in his homeland...

's "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa , is a frame-tale novel by the Polish Enlightenment author, Count Jan Potocki...

". The famous song "Cielito Lindo
Cielito Lindo
"Cielito lindo" is a popular Ranchera song from Mexico, written in 1882 by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés . It is roughly translated as "Lovely Sweet One". Although the word "cielo" means sky or heaven, it is also a term of endearment comparable to sweetheart or honey. "Cielito" can thus be translated as...

" mentions the Sierra Morena.


Much of Sierra Morena's natural beauty is now protected in natural parks, such as Despeñaperros
Despeñaperros is a gorge or canyon carved out by the Despeñaperros River. It is located in the municipality of Santa Elena in the northern portion of the province of Jaén, Spain...

, Sierra de Andújar (Jaén), Sierra de Cardeña-Montoro, Sierra de Hornachuelos, Sierra Madrona
Sierra Madrona
Sierra Madrona is a mountain range of the Cordillera Mariánica or Sierra Morena. It is located in Ciudad Real Province, in the region of Castile-La Mancha as well as the Córdoba and Jaén provincial limits, Andalusia, Spain...

, Sierra Norte de Sevilla
Sierra Norte de Sevilla
Sierra Norte de Sevilla is a Spanish geographical indication for Vino de la Tierra wines located in the autonomous region of Andalusia, southern Spain...

 and Sierra de Aracena, in Huelva.
The Sierra Morena is a habitat of the endangered Iberian Lynx
Iberian Lynx
The Iberian lynx, Lynx pardinus, is a critically endangered species native to the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe. It is one of the most endangered cat species in the world. According to the conservation group SOS Lynx, if this species died out, it would be one of the few feline extinctions...


Other uses

The name "Sierra Morena" is also applied to the highest point on Kings Mountain
Kings Mountain, California
Kings Mountain is an unincorporated community in San Mateo County, California, located along State Route 35 between Skeggs Point and Pise Mountain. This is about seven miles north of Woodside Road . In the U.S...

 in San Mateo County, California
San Mateo County, California
San Mateo County is a county located in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It covers most of the San Francisco Peninsula just south of San Francisco, and north of Santa Clara County. San Francisco International Airport is located at the northern end of the county, and...

 in the U.S., as identified by the U.S. Geological Survey.

External links

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