The River Ebro
The River Ebro or Ebre as it is known in Catalan, is the second longest river in Spain and the biggest river by the volume of water. It starts in northern Spain near Santander in the Cantabrian Mountains and runs for almost 500 miles along the southern foothills of the Pyrenees in Northern Spain before flowing out into into the Mediterranean through the Ebro delta 100 miles south of Barcelona. The massive cliffs of the Serra de Cardo range separate the Ebro Valley from the Mediterranean coastal area and after running through the great hydro dam at Caspe it cuts through the magnificent Els Ports mountain range before finally emptying into the Mediterranean Sea close to Amposta. These lower reaches of the River Ebro Valley with its riverside, mountains, the medieval city of Tortosa and the huge Ebro Delta are one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of Spain and scenically it has it all. The area has a good transport infrastructure for those looking for a second home but for the holiday maker it represents a slice of real unspoiled Spain. Whether its activities like climbing, motorcycling or fishing or simply soaking in the culture of Catalunya with its gastronomic specialities and wines, local Firas and history going back thousands of years, this area really does have something for everyone. These lower stretches of the river Ebro from Caspe down to the delta are renowned world wide for the huge Wels catfish which grow up to 200lb and are the largest freshwater fish found anywhere in Europe. But many other species also thrive in its rich waters, and there are a number of specialist fishing tour companies for anyone who wants to have a go for the huge carp and Barbel that are found here.
Historically the area has lots to visit from the prehistoric rock shelters at Ulldecona with their amazing rock paintings through to the great crusader castle at Miravet and the magnificent cathedral in Tortosa. The old cable ferry across the river at Miravet is a must for seeing the river Ebro close up. The whole area is noted for its Firas or local fairs where the visitor can buy freshly cured specialities
The Ebro Delta (in Catalan: Delta de l’Ebre), in theProvince of Tarragona , is one of the largest wetland areas (340 km²) in the western Mediterranean region. The delya has expanded rapidly on soils washed downriver and the historical rate of growth of the delta can be seen by the town of Amposta which was a seaport in the 4th century but is now located well inland from the current Ebro river mouth.
The modern delta is an area of intensive agriculture for rice citrus fruit and vegetables and the large paddy fields are a common site across teh delta. But the Ebro delta also has numerous areas of beach,saltpan and marshes which provide special habitats for over 300 species of birds including large flocks of Flamingos. In 1983 Spain designated a large part of the delta as Ebro Delta Natural Park (Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre) to protect the natural resources and network of canals and irrigation ditches constructed by both agricultural and conservation groups are helping to maintain the ecologic and economic resources of the Ebro Delta.