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The "Leonese Fjords" of Riaño

The "Leonese Fjords" of Riaño

The Riaño Reservoir, known as the “Leónese Fjords,” offers a landscape of rugged mountains and serene waters that evoke the famous Nordic fjords. This corner of León combines nature, history, and adventure, making it an unmissable destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Discover in this post what makes the Riaño Reservoir unique, its highlighted activities, and its fascinating history.

Landscape That Amazes: Natural Beauty and Panoramic Views

The Riaño Reservoir, located in the Riaño and Mampodre Mountains, is a dam surrounded by majestic mountains, creating a spectacular landscape similar to the fjords of Norway. With its deep waters and perfect reflections, it has earned the nickname “Leónese Fjords.” This reservoir was created in 1987 by damming the Esla River, flooding the ancient valley and forming a body of water that has since captivated visitors with its serene and wild beauty.

From the Valcayo Viewpoint, one of the most notable spots, you can enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view of the mountains reflected in the water, especially at sunrise and sunset, when the light softens the contours and enhances the colours. Additionally, the Gilbo Peak, known as the “Leónese Matterhorn” due to its pyramidal shape, is an impressive visual reference and a popular point for hikers seeking spectacular views.

Interesting Fact: The reservoir has a capacity of 651 cubic hectometres and covers 22 square kilometres, providing a crucial water resource for the region and recreational opportunities for locals and tourists.

Featured Activities: Sport and Adventure in the Leónese Fjords

The Riaño Reservoir is not just a place to enjoy the scenery but also a paradise for enthusiasts of water and mountain sports. The calm waters of the reservoir are ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding, allowing adventurers to explore hidden coves and less accessible corners of the reservoir. Additionally, the hiking trails around the reservoir, such as the Riaño Viewpoints Route, offer varied routes with spectacular views.

For the more adventurous, canyoning in the surrounding area provides an exciting way to experience the rocky terrain and nearby waterfalls. In winter, the area becomes a destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts, who enjoy the snowy landscape and tranquil trails.

Tip: Don’t miss the Leónese Fjords Crossing, a guided kayak route that allows you to discover the history and geology of the reservoir from a unique perspective on the water.

History and Culture: The Legacy of the Submerged Villages

The creation of the Riaño Reservoir resulted in the flooding of nine villages, whose legacy endures in the memory and culture of the region. The old Riaño, along with other villages, was relocated before the water covered the valley. The new Riaño was built at a higher location, where replicas of some of the lost historical buildings, such as the Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, now house a small museum on local history.

One of the most poignant features is the Hórreo de Hormas, an old granary moved from the submerged village of Hormas, which now stands as a symbol of the community’s resilience and adaptation. Additionally, the Ethnographic Museum of Riaño provides a deep insight into traditional life in the region before the flooding, showcasing objects, photographs, and oral accounts from former inhabitants.

Interesting Fact: During periods of drought, it is possible to see remnants of the old villages emerging from the water, a testimony of the past that resurfaces and offers a tangible connection to the area’s history.

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This beautiful century-old stone cottage has been renovated in 2017, although it retains many familiar details, which will make you feel in an authentic village house.

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