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El Montsec d'Ares ridges; central sector of the Serra del Montsec
Sant Alís a 1.675 m high peak in Serra del Montsec
Llimiana. Cliffs at the Montsec de Rúbies seen from Montadó.

La Serra del Montsec is a mountain system of the Pre-Pyrenees.

Contents

Description

The Serra del Montsec consists of a series of calcareous mountain ranges. Runs from east to west, it is about 40 km long and 186.96 square kilometres in area. The Montsec is located in the Catalan province of Lleida and the Aragonese province of Huesca in Spain.

Geography

The name Montsec derives from the latin Montus sectus, which makes reference to its characteristic rock formations. It is divided into three main massifs by 3 of the most important rivers in Catalonia: the eastern massif, El Montsec de Rúbies is separated by the river Segre in the east and the Noguera Pallaresa in the middle, and to the west the Noguera Ribagorçana divides the central massif, El Montsec d'Ares from the western El Montsec d'Estall , in Aragón. Two remarkable gorges (congostos), those of Terradets and Montrebei , or Bonremei, have been opened by the action of the rivers and tectonic movements. The highest peak, Santalís, is found in the central massif, standing at 1,678m, and dominates breathtaking views over Àger and the plains of Lleida to the south and the Pyrenees to the north.

The southern face is virtually a great wall with a "step" about two-thirds of the way up, and the northern side, although by no means as steep, still stands at 1,000 metres above the Tremp basin below.

Formation

Montsec's formation goes back to when sediments of several thousand metres deep were deposited in the Cretacean sea, raised and partly covered by the Eocene sea, and then raised again by Pyrenean folding. Fossils from the Secondary are relatively easy to find, and at Vilanova de Meià the deposits there are one of the most important in the world.

History

Montsec stands in a natural defensive position over the plains and is relatively protected from the icy winds from the north, and as such its strategic aspect was very important in times of the Reconquista. In the 10th Century, when the Califat of Córdoba was at its height Balaguer was the northernmost arab city, and the castles of Castelló de Farfanya, Algerri, and Os de Balaguer were satellite fortifications, which together with a barrier of well-placed watch towers, formed the line of defense against the christians to the north of Montsec. In the 11th and 18th Centuries the area had one of the densest populations in Catalonia, but the population level began to fall at the beginning of the 20th century, and nowadays emigration is prominent and many villages are virtually abandoned.

Economy

The difficulty of irrigation makes for a very limited agricuture, mostly with some barley and almonds. Hydroelectric power is another resource but most of all planners are looking to tourist development to give the region an important boost.

External links

Coordinates: 42°2′39″N 0°45′59″E / 42.04417°N 0.76639°E / 42.04417; 0.76639

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