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Los Monegros.
Los Monegros. GETTY
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12 landscapes that look like they’re from another planet (but are actually in Spain)

In places like the eerie deserts of Aragón or fairy-like forests in La Gomera, you would be forgiven for thinking you had taken a trip into outer space

  • These sandstone shapes, sculptured by water and wind, look like silhouettes from a science fiction film. Declared natural heritage of Murcia, they are located along Bolnuevo beach and act as a gateway to the region’s virgin shores.
    1Bolnuevo sandstone formations (Mazarrón, Murcia). These sandstone shapes, sculptured by water and wind, look like silhouettes from a science fiction film. Declared natural heritage of Murcia, they are located along Bolnuevo beach and act as a gateway to the region’s virgin shores.
  • This World Heritage Site is the result of the largest open-pit gold mine in the Roman Empire. This precious metal was mined in the bowels of these red-tinted mountains in El Bierzo. The otherworldly landscape also features an archeological center that explains the mining techniques of the Romans.
    2Las Médulas (León). This World Heritage Site is the result of the largest open-pit gold mine in the Roman Empire. This precious metal was mined in the bowels of these red-tinted mountains in El Bierzo. The otherworldly landscape also features an archeological center that explains the mining techniques of the Romans. age fotostock
  • The laurel forest is a type of subtropical rain forest that appeared between 2.6 and 66 million years ago and has flourished on the Canary Island of La Gomera. The result is a surreal, mist-swept forest, where moss and lichen cover tree trunks and thick ferns. The park has been declared a World Heritage Site and UNESCO biosphere reserve.
    3Garajonay National Park (La Gomera). The laurel forest is a type of subtropical rain forest that appeared between 2.6 and 66 million years ago and has flourished on the Canary Island of La Gomera. The result is a surreal, mist-swept forest, where moss and lichen cover tree trunks and thick ferns. The park has been declared a World Heritage Site and UNESCO biosphere reserve.
  • When fall comes to the Irati Forest, one of the largest ever to have existed in Europe, located in the western Pyrenees of Navarre, visitors can enjoy the dream-like image of green lichen that smothers the rocks and tree trunks, as it mixes with the reds and oranges of fallen leaves. This sweeping forest, which spreads across 17,000 hectares and changes color with each season, can be reached via Orbaitzeta or from Ochagavía.
    4Irati Forest (Navarre). When fall comes to the Irati Forest, one of the largest ever to have existed in Europe, located in the western Pyrenees of Navarre, visitors can enjoy the dream-like image of green lichen that smothers the rocks and tree trunks, as it mixes with the reds and oranges of fallen leaves. This sweeping forest, which spreads across 17,000 hectares and changes color with each season, can be reached via Orbaitzeta or from Ochagavía. GETTY
  • Dubbed the “Throat of Hell,” this natural reserve is filled with gushing waterfalls and giant pools, formed as rain eroded the rocks. The impact is especially striking in Los Pilones, which is considered one of the most beautiful natural pools in the world. Here the water, which can look green, transparent or white from the foam, flows against smooth gray rocks.
    5La Garganta de los Infiernos (Cáceres). Dubbed the “Throat of Hell,” this natural reserve is filled with gushing waterfalls and giant pools, formed as rain eroded the rocks. The impact is especially striking in Los Pilones, which is considered one of the most beautiful natural pools in the world. Here the water, which can look green, transparent or white from the foam, flows against smooth gray rocks. GETTY
  • The semi-desert landscape of Bardenas Reales, near Tudela, is a UNESCO natural biosphere. This haunting spectacle of odd-shaped rock formations is the result of erosion, which over the years has crafted forms in clay and sandstone soil. Gullies, flat tablelands and solitary peaks give the area a moon-like feel. It has appeared in the film “Airbag” and the television show “Game of Thrones.”
    6Bardenas Reales (Navarre). The semi-desert landscape of Bardenas Reales, near Tudela, is a UNESCO natural biosphere. This haunting spectacle of odd-shaped rock formations is the result of erosion, which over the years has crafted forms in clay and sandstone soil. Gullies, flat tablelands and solitary peaks give the area a moon-like feel. It has appeared in the film “Airbag” and the television show “Game of Thrones.”
  • These enormous ravines, formed by rain channels, are located in the Ayllón mountains, northeast of Guadalajara. Here red ridge formations rise up from the clay-like soil to create a surreal, alien landscape.
    7Cárcavas del Pomtón de la Oliva (Guadalajara). These enormous ravines, formed by rain channels, are located in the Ayllón mountains, northeast of Guadalajara. Here red ridge formations rise up from the clay-like soil to create a surreal, alien landscape. AGE FOTOSTOCK
  • The immense lagoon in Torrevieja spreads over 1,400 hectares and is located within the La Mata and Torrevieja Lagoons nature park, in the south of Alicante. Its pink and fuchsia-tinged waters are due to a type of bacteria that thrives in the lagoon, especially in summer. The shade of pink depends on the time of day and amount of sunlight. Swimming is prohibited.
    8Torrevieja Pink Lagoon (Alicante). The immense lagoon in Torrevieja spreads over 1,400 hectares and is located within the La Mata and Torrevieja Lagoons nature park, in the south of Alicante. Its pink and fuchsia-tinged waters are due to a type of bacteria that thrives in the lagoon, especially in summer. The shade of pink depends on the time of day and amount of sunlight. Swimming is prohibited. GETTY
  • Along the upper course of the Tinto River in the Huelva region is one of the largest open-pit deposits in Europe, which was exploited by the Tartessians as well as the Romans. The area was mined for centuries, dramatically transforming the area into a place that now looks like it belongs on another planet. The red-colored river is due to the high content of ferruginous salts and sulfur.
    9Riotinto (Huelva). Along the upper course of the Tinto River in the Huelva region is one of the largest open-pit deposits in Europe, which was exploited by the Tartessians as well as the Romans. The area was mined for centuries, dramatically transforming the area into a place that now looks like it belongs on another planet. The red-colored river is due to the high content of ferruginous salts and sulfur. ALAMY
  • A visit to the Black Sands of the Teide National Park is to submerge yourself in a volcanic landscape, complete with pumice stone and ash-covered slopes, all in the shadow of the impressive Teide volcano.
    10Black sands of Teide (Tenerife). A visit to the Black Sands of the Teide National Park is to submerge yourself in a volcanic landscape, complete with pumice stone and ash-covered slopes, all in the shadow of the impressive Teide volcano. GETTY
  • The Timanfaya national park is made up of a number curious geological structures, which were formed following the volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736 and in 1824. Visitors can appreciate the alien-like mix of pinks and oranges against the silhouette of over 25 volcanoes, with the blue sea behind.
    11Timanfaya national park (Lanzarote). The Timanfaya national park is made up of a number curious geological structures, which were formed following the volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736 and in 1824. Visitors can appreciate the alien-like mix of pinks and oranges against the silhouette of over 25 volcanoes, with the blue sea behind.
  • “Los Monegros are a unique, mature and particular ecosystem in Spain, whose biological wealth has proven to be exceptionally important,” begins the scientific manifesto demanding the protection of the area. A series of gullies, mountains and valleys make up one of the most important endorheic basins in Europe.
    12Los Monegros (Huesca and Zaragoza). “Los Monegros are a unique, mature and particular ecosystem in Spain, whose biological wealth has proven to be exceptionally important,” begins the scientific manifesto demanding the protection of the area. A series of gullies, mountains and valleys make up one of the most important endorheic basins in Europe. GETTY