|The Pyrenees Mountains|
| Spanish: Pirineos|
Basque: Pirinioak, Auñamendiak
|Elevation||3,404 m (11,168 ft)|
|Length||491 km (305 mi)|
|Etymology||Named for Pyrene|
|Countries||Spain, France and Andorra|
|Age of rock||Paleozoic and Mesozoic|
|Type of rock||granite, gneiss, limestone|
The Pyrenees ( // ; Spanish : Pirineos [piɾiˈneos] ; French : Pyrénées [piʁene] ; Aragonese : Pirineus; Catalan : Pirineus [piɾiˈnɛws] ; Occitan : Pirenèus; Basque : Pirinioak [piˈɾinioˌak] ) is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between Spain and France. Reaching a height of 3,404 metres (11,168 ft) altitude at the peak of Aneto, the range separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus).
Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Aragonese is a Romance language spoken in several dialects by 10,000 to 30,000 people in the Pyrenees valleys of Aragon, Spain, primarily in the comarcas of Somontano de Barbastro, Jacetania, Alto Gállego, Sobrarbe, and Ribagorza/Ribagorça. It is the only modern language which survived from medieval Navarro-Aragonese in a form distinctly different from Spanish.
For the most part, the main crest forms a divide between Spain and France, with the microstate of Andorra sandwiched in between. The Principality of Catalonia alongside with the Kingdom of Aragon in the Crown of Aragon, Occitania and the Kingdom of Navarre have historically extended on both sides of the mountain range, with smaller northern portions now in France and larger southern parts now in Spain.
A microstate or ministate is a sovereign state having a very small population or very small land area, and usually both. The meanings of "state" and "very small" are not well-defined in international law. Recent attempts, since 2010, to define microstates have focused on identifying political entities with unique qualitative features linked to their geographic or demographic limitations. According to a qualitative definition, microstates are: "modern protected states, i.e. sovereign states that have been able to unilaterally depute certain attributes of sovereignty to larger powers in exchange for benign protection of their political and economic viability against their geographic or demographic constraints." In line with this and most other definitions, examples of microstates include Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Andorra, the Cook Islands, Niue, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordering France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the Count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell, and the present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a diarchy headed by two Princes: the Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain, and the President of France.
The Principality of Catalonia was a medieval and early modern political entity in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. During most of its history it was in dynastic union with the Kingdom of Aragon, constituting together the Crown of Aragon. Between the 13th and the 18th centuries it was bordered by the Kingdom of Aragon to the west, the Kingdom of Valencia to the south, the Kingdom of France and the feudal lordship of Andorra to the north and by the Mediterranean sea to the east. The term "Principality of Catalonia" remained in use until the Second Spanish Republic, when its use declined because of its historical relation to the monarchy. Today, the term Principat (Principality) is used primarily to refer to the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, as distinct from the other Catalan Countries. and usually including the historical region of Roussillon in southern France.
In Greek mythology, Pyrene is a princess who gave her name to the Pyrenees. The Greek historian Herodotus says Pyrene is the name of a town in Celtic Europe.According to Silius Italicus, she was the virgin daughter of Bebryx, a king in Mediterranean Gaul by whom the hero Hercules was given hospitality during his quest to steal the cattle of Geryon during his famous Labours. Hercules, characteristically drunk and lustful, violates the sacred code of hospitality and rapes his host's daughter. Pyrene gives birth to a serpent and runs away to the woods, afraid that her father will be angry. Alone, she pours out her story to the trees, attracting the attention of wild beasts who tear her to pieces.
Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
In Greek mythology, Pyrene may refer to:
An eponym is a person, place, or thing after whom or after which something is named, or believed to be named. The adjectives derived from eponym include eponymous and eponymic. For example, Elizabeth I of England is the eponym of the Elizabethan era, and "the eponymous founder of the Ford Motor Company" refers to Henry Ford. Recent usage, especially in the recorded-music industry, also allows eponymous to mean "named after its central character or creator".
After his victory over Geryon, Hercules passes through the kingdom of Bebryx again, finding the girl's lacerated remains. As is often the case in stories of this hero, the sober Hercules responds with heartbroken grief and remorse at the actions of his darker self, and lays Pyrene to rest tenderly, demanding that the surrounding geography join in mourning and preserve her name:"struck by Herculean voice, the mountaintops shudder at the ridges; he kept crying out with a sorrowful noise 'Pyrene!' and all the rock-cliffs and wild-beast haunts echo back 'Pyrene!' … The mountains hold on to the wept-over name through the ages." Pliny the Elder connects the story of Hercules and Pyrene to Lusitania, but rejects it as fabulosa, highly fictional.
Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and friend of emperor Vespasian.
Lusitania or Hispania Lusitana was an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal and part of western Spain lie. It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people.
Other classical sources derived the name from the Greek word for fire, Ancient Greek : πῦρ (IPA: /pŷːr/). According to Greek historian Diodorus Siculus "..in ancient times, we are told, certain herdsmen left a fire and the whole area of the mountains was entirely consumed; and due to this fire, since it raged continuously day after day, the surface of the earth was also burned and the mountains, because of what had taken place, were called the Pyrenees."
Diodorus Siculus or Diodorus of Sicily was a Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica, much of which survives, between 60 and 30 BC. It is arranged in three parts. The first covers mythic history up to the destruction of Troy, arranged geographically, describing regions around the world from Egypt, India and Arabia to Europe. The second covers the Trojan War to the death of Alexander the Great. The third covers the period to about 60 BC. Bibliotheca, meaning 'library', acknowledges that he was drawing on the work of many other authors.
The Spanish Pyrenees are part of the following provinces, from east to west: Girona, Barcelona, Lleida (all in Catalonia), Huesca (in Aragon), Navarra (in Navarre) and Gipuzkoa (in the Basque Country).
Spain and its autonomous communities are divided into fifty provinces. Spain's provincial system was recognized in its 1978 constitution but its origin dates back to 1833. Ceuta, Melilla and the Plazas de soberanía are not part of any provinces.
Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.
Navarre ; officially the Chartered Community of Navarre, is an autonomous community and province in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Autonomous Community, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France. The capital city is Pamplona.
The French Pyrenees are part of the following départements , from east to west: Pyrénées-Orientales (North Catalonia and Fenolheda), Aude, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées, and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (the latter two of which include the Pyrenees National Park).
The independent principality of Andorra is sandwiched in the eastern portion of the mountain range between the Spanish Pyrenees and French Pyrenees.
Physiographically, the Pyrenees may be divided into three sections: the Atlantic (or Western), the Central, and the Eastern Pyrenees. Together, they form a distinct physiographic province of the larger Alpine System division.
In the Western Pyrenees, from the Basque mountains near the Bay of Biscay of the Atlantic Ocean, the average elevation gradually increases from west to east.
The Central Pyrenees extend eastward from the Somport pass to the Aran Valley, and they include the highest summits of this range:
In the Eastern Pyrenees, with the exception of one break at the eastern extremity of the Pyrénées Ariègeoises in the Ariège area, the mean elevation is remarkably uniform until a sudden decline occurs in the easternmost portion of the chain known as the Albères.
Most foothills of the Pyrenees are on the Spanish side, where there is a large and complex system of ranges stretching from Spanish Navarre, across northern Aragon and into Catalonia, almost reaching the Mediterranean coast with summits reaching 2,600 m (8,500 ft). At the eastern end on the southern side lies a distinct area known as the Sub-Pyrenees.
On the French side the slopes of the main range descend abruptly and there are no foothills except in the Corbières Massif in the northeastern corner of the mountain system.
The Pyrenees are older than the Alps: their sediments were first deposited in coastal basins during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. Between 100 and 150 million years ago, during the Lower Cretaceous Period, the Bay of Biscay fanned out, pushing present-day Spain against France and applying intense compressional pressure to large layers of sedimentary rock. The intense pressure and uplifting of the Earth's crust first affected the eastern part and moved progressively to the entire chain, culminating in the Eocene Epoch.
The eastern part of the Pyrenees consists largely of granite and gneissose rocks, while in the western part the granite peaks are flanked by layers of limestone. The massive and unworn character of the chain comes from its abundance of granite, which is particularly resistant to erosion, as well as weak glacial development.
The upper parts of the Pyrenees contain low-relief surfaces forming a peneplain. This peneplain originated no earlier than in Late Miocene times. Presumably it formed at height as extensive sedimentation raised the local base level considerably.
Conspicuous features of Pyrenean scenery are:
The highest waterfall is Gavarnie (462 m or 1,515 ft), at the head of the Gave de Pau; the Cirque de Gavarnie, in the same valley, together with the nearby Cirque de Troumouse and Cirque d'Estaubé, are notable examples of the cirque formation.
Low passes are lacking, and the principal roads and the railroads between France and Spain run only in the lowlands at the western and eastern ends of the Pyrenees, near sea level. The main passes of note are:
Because of the lack of low passes a number of tunnels have been created, beneath the passes at Somport, Envalira, and Puymorens and new routes in the center of the range at Bielsa and Vielha.
A notable visual feature of this mountain range is La Brèche de Roland, a gap in the ridge line, which –according to legend –was created by Roland.
The metallic ores of the Pyrenees are not in general of much importance now, though there were iron mines at several locations in Andorra, as well as at Vicdessos in Ariège, and the foot of Canigou in Pyrénées-Orientales long ago. Coal deposits capable of being profitably worked are situated chiefly on the Spanish slopes, but the French side has beds of lignite.The open pit of Trimoun near the commune of Luzenac (Ariège) is one of the greatest sources of talc in Europe.
Mineral springs are abundant and remarkable, and especially noteworthy are the hot springs. The hot springs, among which those of Les Escaldes in Andorra, Panticosa and Lles in Spain, Ax-les-Thermes, Bagnères-de-Luchon and Eaux-Chaudes in France may be mentioned, are sulfurous and mostly situated high, near the contact of the granite with the stratified rocks. The lower springs, such as those of Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Hautes-Pyrénées), Rennes-les-Bains (Aude), and Campagne-sur-Aude (Aude), are mostly selenitic and not hot.
The amount of precipitation the range receives, including rain and snow, is much greater in the western than in the eastern Pyrenees °C (28.4 °F).because of the moist air that blows in from the Atlantic Ocean over the Bay of Biscay. After dropping its moisture over the western and central Pyrenees, the air is left dry over the eastern Pyrenees. The winter average temperature is -2
Sections of the mountain range vary in more than one respect. There are some glaciers in the western and snowy central Pyrenees, but there are no glaciers in the eastern Pyrenees because there is insufficient snowfall to cause their development. Glaciers are confined to the northern slopes of the central Pyrenees, and do not descend, like those of the Alps, far down into the valleys but rather have their greatest lengths along the direction of the mountain chain. They form, in fact, in a narrow zone near the crest of the highest mountains. Here, as in the other great mountain ranges of central Europe, there is substantial evidence of a much wider expanse of glaciation during the glacial periods. The best evidence of this is in the valley of Argeles Gazost, between Lourdes and Gavarnie, in the département of Hautes-Pyrénées.
The annual snow-line varies in different parts of the Pyrenees from about 2,700 to 2,800 metres above sea level.In average the seasonal snow is observed at least 50% of the time above 1,600 metres between December and April.
A still more marked effect of the preponderance of rainfall in the western half of the chain is seen in the vegetation. The lower mountains in the extreme west are wooded, but the extent of forest declines as one moves eastwards. The eastern Pyrenees are peculiarly wild and barren, all the more since it is in this part of the chain that granitic masses prevail. Also moving from west to east, there is a change in the composition of the flora, with the change becoming most evident as one passes the centre of the mountain chain from which point the Corbières stretch north-eastwards towards the central plateau of France. Though the difference in latitude is only about 1°, in the west the flora resembles that of central Europe while in the east it is distinctly Mediterranean in character. The Pyrenees are nearly as rich in endemic species as the Alps, and among the most remarkable instances of that endemism is the occurrence of the monotypic genus Xatardia (family Apiaceae), which grows only on a high alpine pass between the Val d'Eynes and Catalonia. Other examples include Arenaria montana , Bulbocodium vernum , and Ranunculus glacialis . The genus most abundantly represented in the range is that of the saxifrages, several species of which are endemic here.
In their fauna the Pyrenees present some striking instances of endemism. The Pyrenean desman is found only in some of the streams of the northern slopes of these mountains; the only other desmans are confined to the rivers of the Caucasus in southern Russia. The Pyrenean euprocte (Euproctus pyrenaicus), an endemic relative of the salamander, also lives in streams and lakes located at high altitudes. Among other peculiarities of Pyrenean fauna are blind insects in the caverns of Ariège, the principal genera of which are Anophthalmus and Adelops.
The Pyrenean ibex mysteriously became extinct in January 2000; the native Pyrenean brown bear was hunted to near-extinction in the 1990s, but it was re-introduced in 1996 when three bears were brought from Slovenia. The bear population has bred successfully, and there are now believed to be about 15 brown bears in the central region around Fos, but only four native ones are still living in the Aspe Valley.
Principal nature reserves and national parks:
The Pyrenean region possesses a varied ethnology, folklore and history: see Andorra; Aragon; Ariège; Basque Country; Béarn; Catalonia; Navarre; Roussillon. For their history, see also Almogavars, Marca Hispanica.
The principal languages spoken in the area are Spanish, French, Aragonese, Catalan (in Catalonia and Andorra), and Basque. Also spoken, to a lesser degree, is the Occitan language, consisting of he Gascon and Languedocien dialects in France and the Aranese dialect in the Aran Valley.
An important feature of rural life in the Pyrenees is 'transhumance', the moving of livestock from the farms in the valleys up to the higher grounds of the mountains for the summer.In this way the farming communities could keep larger herds than the lowland farms could support on their own. The principal animals moved were cows and sheep, but historically most members of farming families also moved to the higher pastures along with their animals, so they also took with them pigs, horses and chickens. Transhumance thus took the form of a mass biannual migration, moving uphill in May or June and returning to the farms in September or October. During the summer period, the families would live in basic stone cabins in the high mountains.
Nowadays, industrialisation and changing agriculture practices have diminished the custom. However, the importance of transhumance continues to be recognised through its celebration in popular festivals.
The following is the complete list of the summits of the Pyrenees above 3,000 meters:
Both sides of the Pyrenees are popular spots for winter sports such as alpine skiing and mountaineering. The Pyrenees are also a good place for athletes to do high-altitude training in the summertime, such as by bicycling and cross-country running.
In the summer and the autumn, the Pyrenees are usually featured in two of cycling's grand tours, the Tour de France held annually in July and the Vuelta a España held in September. The stages held in the Pyrenees are often crucial legs of both tours, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators to the region.
Three main long-distance footpaths run the length of the mountain range: the GR 10 across the northern slopes, the GR 11 across the southern slopes, and the HRP which traverses peaks and ridges along a high altitude route. In addition, there are numerous marked and unmarked trails throughout the region.
Pirena is a dog-mushing competition held in the Pyrenees.
Ski resorts in the Pyrenees include:
Aneto is the highest mountain in the Pyrenees and in Aragon, and Spain's third-highest mountain, reaching a height of 3,404 metres (11,168 ft). It stands in the Spanish province of Huesca, the northernmost of all three Aragonese provinces, 4 miles south of the French border. It forms the southernmost part of the Maladeta massif. It is also still locally known as Pic de Néthou in French, that name and its variants having been in general use until the beginning of the 20th century.
The Vignemale, at 3,298 metres, is the highest of the French Pyrenean summits, on the border with Spain, also part of the peak belongs to Aragon.
Monte Perdido is the third highest mountain in the Pyrenees. The summit of Monte Perdido (3355 m), located in Spain, lies hidden from France by the seemingly impenetrable peaks of the Cirques of Gavarnie and Estaubé. It stands in the north of Huesca province. The mountain forms part of the Monte Perdido Range and is located in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in the western part of the Pyrenees, in the community of Aragon, Spain.
The Cirque de Gavarnie is a cirque in the central Pyrenees, in Southwestern France, close to the border of Spain. It is within the commune of Gavarnie, the department of Hautes-Pyrénées, and the Pyrénées National Park. Major features of the cirque are La Brèche de Roland and the Gavarnie Falls. It was described by Victor Hugo as "the Colosseum of nature" due to its enormous size and horseshoe shape resembling an ancient amphitheatre.
Pica d'Estats is a 3,143-metre-high (10,312 ft) mountain in the Montcalm Massif, Pyrenees. on the Spanish–French border, and is the highest mountain in Catalonia.
The Ordesa Valley is a glacial valley in Aragon, in the Spanish Pyrenees which forms part of the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. It was first discovered in 1820, but not mapped in detail until approximately the 1920s. The valley is about 11 kilometres (7 mi) long.
Henry Patrick Marie, Count Russell-Killough (1834–1909) was one of the pioneers of Pyrenean exploration, known for his obsession with the Vignemale.
Soum de Ramond, also known as Pico de Añisclo in Spanish and Aragonese, is a mountain of 3,263 metres in the Monte Perdido massif in the Aragonese Pyrenees in northern Spain. It is one of the three mountains comprising Las Tres Sorores, the others being Monte Perdido and Cilindro de Marboré.
Cilindro de Marboré is a mountain in the Monte Perdido massif in the Pyrenees.
Maladeta is a mountain in the Pyrenees, close to the highest peak in the range, Aneto. It is located in the Natural Park of Posets-Maladeta in the town of Benasque in Province of Huesca, Aragon, Spain. Its northern slope contains the 91-acre (37 ha) Maladeta Glacier, which is divided into the 15-acre (6 ha) Western Maladeta and the 77-acre (31 ha) Eastern Maladeta.
The Natural Park of Posets-Maladeta is a Natural park located in northern Province of Huesca, Aragón, northeastern Spain. It is set within the Pyrenees.
The Montcalm Massif is a mountain massif located in the Pyrenees, at the border between France and Spain, it has an altitude of 3077 metres above sea level.
Marboré Peak is a summit in the Pyrenees located on the Franco-Spanish border crest in the Monte Perdido Range.
The Casque du Marboré, or Casque de Gavarnie or simply le Casque, is a pyrenean summit, culminating at 3,006 m (9,862 ft), located on the crest of three-thousanders in the Monte Perdido Range above Cirque de Gavarnie on the Franco-Spanish border.
Tour du Marboré or Tour de Gavarnie is a pyrenean summit, culminating at 3,009 m (9,872 ft), located on the Franco-Spanish border crest in the Monte Perdido Range.
Pic du Taillon or Pico Taillón is a summit in the Pyrenees, culminating at 3,144 m (10,315 ft) on the Franco-Spanish border in the Monte Perdido Range.
Pic de Montcalm is a French pyrenean summit, culminating at 3,077 m (10,095 ft), located in the Ariège department, Midi-Pyrénées region of France.
The Renclusa refuge is located in the Spanish Pyrenees at the foot of the massif de la Maladeta, at 2,140 m (7,020 ft) high, in the Ésera valley. It is the starting point for excursions to the summit of la Maladeta, of the monts Maudits and the Aneto. It lies in the commune of Benasque, north-east of Huesca province, Aragon (Spain).
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