“Rocks of more than 400 million years old are found next to rocks in the process of being formed”
Molina & Alto Tajo UNESCO Global Geopark is in the Castellana area of the Iberian mountain range, between the watersheds of the rivers Ebro, to the north, and Tagus river, to the south. It is situated in the interior of the Iberian Peninsula. The consists of a plateau with an average altitude of about 1100 m above sea level with some mountains rising in the centre and especially in the south with elevations reaching 1.500 m in the centre and 1.900 m in the south.
The Molina & Alto Tajo UNESCO Global Geopark is mainly shaped by Mesozoic rocks, but there are also extensive outcrops of Paleozoic and Tertiary. This territory is located in the area where the Paleozoic continents joined to form Pangea and where later split to form today’s present day continents. For this reason, it features continuous sedimentary sequences telling the story of the main events on Earth in the past 400 million years, such as the stratigraphic series of the Upper Ordovician, Lower Silurian, Permo-Triassic and Lower Jurassic. The stratotype section at Fuentelsaz is an example of this exceptional sedimentary record which is considered the best place worldwide to study the Toarcian-Aalenian boundary, as well as the stratotype at the Hoz canyon; outcrop of graptolites in Checa; Permian fossil trees in the Aragoncillo Mountains and Dropstone and Lower Silurian section in Checa, among others.
Molina & Alto Tajo UNESCO Global Geopark covers 77 municipalities. The most important town is Molina de Aragón. Its 4,520 km2 make it one of the largest in the European Geopark Network, but is populated by only 10.370 inhabitants.
The declaration of Alto Tajo like Natural Park in 2000, in the southern part of the territory, involved the establishment of a new development model based on tourism and sustainable use of natural resources. This new model revealed the existence of a magnificent geological heritage of great value that conveniently explained, could be of interest not only to the scientific or educational community, but also to the general public. Because of this, 9 Geo-Routes were designed in the Natural Park and a Geological Guide was edited in 2007, receiving an international award. Two other Geo-Routes were drawn in the northern part of the territory, about the Caldereros Mountains and the Mesa River Valley, when the whole territory was proposed to be UNESCO Global Geopark. This area has been the scene of numerous scientific investigations since the eighteenth century and the UNESCO Global Geopark updates each year its activity programme for school children, with guided tours and Environment and Geology workshops.