Waterfall on the Río Arazas in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Pyrenees, Spain
© David Santiago Garcia/Cavan Image
Gateway to Iberia. Río Arazas in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Spain
Striking in any season, but particularly beautiful in years when the warmth of summer stretches into fall, the Pyrenees have served as a natural border between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe since the earliest civilizations took root there. Located in the center of the range, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park was created in 1918 and expanded in 1982. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Boasting sheer cliffs and deep, verdant valleys, the park is a photographer's dream, with a landscape defined by dramatic geological landforms and diverse ecosystems shaped by the drastic elevation changes of the Pyrenees. The region is home to several species that can only be found here, including the Pyrenean chamois and the Pyrenean desman, or water mole. The mammal considered the most rare and important in the region, the bucardo or Pyrenean ibex, went extinct in January 2000 despite preservation efforts.