Updated: February 14, 2023Published: December 13, 2022
Spain is home to the two highest mountains of western Europe (after the Alps and Caucasus mountains), and one of them is in a National Park recognized as the most visited in Europe.
Too good to be true? Maybe, but Spain is full of wonders. Mount Teide is the highest Mountain in Spain, but not on the peninsula. Sound like a puzzle, but if you are a mountaineer at heart, the following information will be super helpful.
Just imagine planning a vacation where you get to see the most breathtaking views of Spain. Panoramic shots almost no one has because they don’t dare to try. How about you?
After reading this post, you will have twenty facts about the two most crucial Spanish mountains, plus a list of the highest ten. As a backup in case you are left wanting more.
What are the highest mountains in Spain?
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Cilindro de Marboré
11 Facts about Mount Teide
Mount Teide is the highest mountain in Spain, technically not in Spain. Confusing? It shouldn’t be; it is super straightforward. This mountain is located in Spain’s African archipelago. And we have compiled some useful and interesting facts for you to be informed before visiting.
1. Mount Teide is not just a mountain.
The Teide is a dormant volcano whose last eruption happened in 1909. Scientists have stated that the previous explosion occurred unexpectedly and could activate again due to its structural instability. That unfortunate event happened more than a hundred years ago; technology has come very far for volcanologists to predict and analyze any unusual activity.
2. Mount Teide is not on the Iberian peninsula.
As mentioned before, the highest peak in Spain is off the peninsula. To meet this spectacular volcano, you must take a plane to the Island of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Canary Islands. Suppose there are any doubts about the locations of this archipelago. In that case, the Canary Islands are off the coast of northwestern Africa, right next to the South of Morocco and the north of Western Sahara.
3. Several organizations have recognized the uniqueness of this area.
Teide National Park is in the center of Tenerife, and scientists have recognized its value as a “geological treasure.” It received the title of “National Park” in 1954, then in 1989, and it was given the European Diploma for Protected Areas. In 2007, UNESCO accepted Teide National Park as a World Heritage; since then, the country has annexed it to the list of “12 Treasures of Spain”.
4. Teide National Park has rich flora and fauna.
When it comes to biodiversity, don’t let the dry, rocky conditions confuse you. Mount Teide is home to more than 1,400 native animal species.
Some of the animals there are hoopoe, loggerhead shrike, Tawny pipit, short-eared owl, canary owl, common kestrel, rabbits, ravens, blackcap and warbler, sparrowhawks, blue tit, black-eared lizard, white wagtail, blackbirds, blackbirds, chiffchaffs, the canary eared bat, the rock pigeon, the rock pigeon, the rock partridge, Delande’s parakeet, the robin, the blue chaffinch, mice, turtledoves, swifts, the mouflon, the black hedgehog, the Teide pimelia, and the feral cat.
Regarding flora, scientists have found 194 plants surrounding the volcano, and 58 of them are endemic. Some of these are the Canary Island pine, Canary Island juniper, Canary Island wallflower, and the Teide white bloom.
5. The first climber of the Teide is unknown.
The first ascent of the Teide was recorded in 1528.
6. All climbers love the Teide.
In 1626, Sir Edmund Scory published the first book on the different routes to the peak of the Teide. He probably stayed in the Canary Islands for ten years studying everything, especially the volcano. Several famous explorers climbed the Teide. For example, in 1799, German scientist Alexander von Humboldt was on his way to Latin America and decided to stop in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to climb the Teide. And in 2017, paralympic champion Gemma Hassen-Bey climbed 3,700 meters off the Teide only by using her hands; she was the first wheelchair athlete to achieve this.
7. The name Teide comes from Canarian mythology.
Back in the 15th century, the Teide was a sacred mountain to the native community of Guanches. They believed that the volcano held a powerful creature inside, and whenever it erupted, they lit bonfires to fight Guayota, the evilest creature in their mythology. The name comes from the word “Echeyde” (Guanche dialect), which means “home of Guayota.”
8. Teide is Mars on Earth.
The conditions of the volcano made it the perfect testing site for missions to Mars. British scientists chose the environment of the National Park to test robots.
9. Once again, the Teide is home for science.
We know it is essential for outer space research, fauna and flora catalogs, and also astronomers. In 1964, the International Observatory was built at the volcano’s slopes, more than 2,000 meters above sea level.
10. Teide National Park made it to Hollywood.
You read right; several movies have used the Teide as their location for action scenes. Some of them were Fast and Furious six and Rambo.
11. Teide National Park is the most visited in Spain.
Teide National Park is the sixth most visited park in world! In 2013, it became the most popular National Park in Europe when it received more than 2.5 million people.
Not only scientists, paralympic athletes, and adventurers can climb the Teide; anyone can do it! Actually, if you visit, there are two accommodations for resting and two ways to get to higher altitudes. Your options are walking or by cableway. If you want to do it yourself, you must ask for a pass from the park authorities.
The video below says more than a thousand words. Once you see it, you’ll undertand why poeple love it so much. From scientists to athletes, the video complements the 11 facts that make Mount Teide so special.
If you are interested in more details about Teide National Park and the Canary Islands, head to this articles!
Mount Teide is the highest Spanish mountain, but it is not on the Iberian peninsula. The latter gives space for another contender to fight for the title, and the title of the highest peak on the peninsula goes to Mount Mulhancén. Like Teide, the Mulhancén has its own story for the background of its name and hides some secrets that will make you want to catch a direct plain to Granada.
1. One of the last Muslim kings gave the name the mountain.
Remember that Spain was known as Al-Andalus? Quick history review, the Iberian Peninsula was under Muslim rule for around 700 years. In the 15th century, Abu’l-Hasan Ali ibn Sa’d, also known as Muley Hacén, was the second to the last king of the Nasrid dynasty. His son had once overthrown him and restored him to power a few years before his death. When Muely was close to his passing, he asked his wife to bury his body in the highest peak of the Iberian peninsula in the Sierra Nevada. He wanted his body to be above humanity, not be stepped on by other men.
2. Mulhacén is Europe’s highest peak after the Alps and Caucasus ranges.
There was a time before the 19th century when people didn’t know if the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula was Mount Mulhacén or Mount Veleta (another peak in the Sierra Nevada). However, a geodesic experiment in 1898 allowed a group of Spanish and French scientists to prove that the Mulhacén was the highest peak in Spain.
3. You don’t have to be a climber to ascent the Mulhacén
Yes, that is right. You don’t need to be a professional to climb the highest peak because the relief of the mountain is very smooth. Nevertheless, it is very recommendable to hire a guide that can accompany you to the peak.
4. Check the weather before climbing the Mulhacén.
This mountain might have a smooth relief, but the way up is challenging under 40 degrees. Remember that the Sierra Nevada is located in Andalucía in summer; it could reach an extremely high temperature, not suited to be closer to the sun. The same has to be regarded in winter. The top of the Mulhacén could reach minus 20 degrees. In march 2006, a group of British climbers died of hypothermia because they were poorly equipped for the low temperatures of the mountain.
You should always check the weather before planning a trip, specially in Spain. I subjectively say its always pretty, but here I leave you a more detailed chart on it:
5. During the Civil War, Sierra Nevada was divided in two.
You might be wondering how this was possible. Well, it was. The Mulhancén belonged to Franco’s government, while the mount Veleta belonged to the Republic side. If you ever visit this Mulhacén, you’ll notice the bunkers on the slope of the mountain.
6. The first climber of the Mulhacén was a botanist
What did I tell you? You don’t have to be a professional climber or alpinist. All you’ve got to do is recognize if you have an adventurer’s heart because that will take you up. Simón Rojas Clemente was the first official person to climb the Mulhacén in 1804, and there is no further information on his motives, but knowing his career, maybe curiosity for nature drove his energies to try.
7. It only takes a few hours to climb the Mulhacén.
If you begin the route from ‘Refugio Poqueira,’ it will take five hours to reach the peak. Remember, each person has their own time and pace, so take this as a reference.
8. Stay closer to the sky.
On the slopes of the Mulhacén lie three towns with more than a thousand meters over sea level. These towns are known to be part of the ‘Barranco de Poqueria’ (Poqueria canyon) and are characterized by the small white house, which is very traditional on Andalusian coasts. The towns are Capileria, Bubión, and Pampaneira; anyone can discover and stay in these traditional towns with the highest peak in peninsular Spain as a window view.
These three are not the only white towns in Spain. Here you have more “pueblos blancos” for your bucket list:
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!