Human activity in the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura & Las Villas Natural Park
Due to the extensive area covered by the Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park, there is also a considerable number of towns and villages (23) partially or totally within its boundaries: Cazorla, La Iruela,Hinojares, Segura de la Sierra, Villanueva del Arzobispo, Hornos,Villacarrillo, Quesada, Santiago-Pontones, Pozo Alcón, La Puerta del Segura, Orcera, Beas de Segura, Iznatoraf, Chilluévar,Siles, Peal de Becerro, Torres de Albánchez, Santo -Tomé, Sorihuela del Guadalimar, Huesa, Benatae y Génave.
Paleolithic cave paintings in Santiago de la Espada and Quesada go some way to proving the antiquity of human presence in the area, followed by the Tartessians, Iberians, Romans, Arabs and Christians. The major legacy from the two most influential cultures (Arabic and Christian) are the numerous defensive castles.
The economy is still based on agriculture and forestry. Olive groves cover a large part of the Guadalquivir valley, whereas in hillier areas, fruit tree plantations are common: apples, cherries, plums and almonds are harvested in the Natural Park. Forestry exists but on a much smaller scale than when the area produced timber for the building of Spain’s one-time ocean ruling ship fleet. Hunting has become a strong source of income since 1960, when the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura & Las Villas Natural Park was named a national hunting reserve. However, the most recent years have seen a spectacular growth in nature tourism, although thanks to the size of the Natural Park, the influx of mainly Spanish visitors is not noticeable except at specific holiday periods.
Local craftwork is also diverse, ranging from rug and blanket weaving, embroidery and basket making, to carpentry and pottery.