Almost always, mountain villages are chosen as “postcard places”, because that idyllic setting with the mountain formations in the background makes them tremendously striking. Something like this happens in Riaño, a small town in the province of León (Spain), located on the southern slope of the Cantabrian mountain range.
This small municipality from León also serves as a prelude to one of the most spectacular protected natural areas on the Iberian Peninsula; the Picos de Europa. For this reason and much more, it has the perfect ingredients so that we can affirm that Riaño is one of those “authentic postcard” towns.
Mountains, lakes, reservoirs, exuberant vegetation … all that and a long history awaits you in Riaño. Join us to find out.
Riaño is a Spanish town and municipality to the north of the autonomous community of Castilla y León. It is located on the southern slope of the Cantabrian mountain range, very close to the upper eastern summit line of the province, and serves as a prelude to the famous Picos de Europa.
Its demarcation has an area of 97.63 square kilometers, is located at an altitude of 1,148 meters and at a distance of 95 kilometers from the provincial capital.
Geographically, Riaño is located at the confluence of the 2 rivers that form the Esla in a single channel. The headwaters of the Esla and the Yuso where it is found form an extensive mountainous complex, very rugged, of high average altitude and covered by a vegetal carpet in which pastures, heaths and broomlands alternate with magnificent remains of beech and oak forest.
In climatic terms, much of the abundant precipitation collected in this area is in the form of snow. This makes communication and life more difficult during the long and harsh winters that have occurred throughout history, some of the coldest and snowiest in the province.
On the other hand, summers can be warm, although even in July and August night temperatures can drop below 0 degrees. In short, it has a cold and humid continental climate that, together with the high average altitude, translates into optimal conditions for the development of the characteristic Atlantic forest.
Riaño, a corner that brims with beauty
The postcard of Riaño is discovered through a beautiful horizon with a massif of limestone rock peaks in the background. Here, in the Leonese mountain, the objective is to discover what this corner that brims with beauty and thousands of attractions welcomes in order to enjoy a peaceful and enriching visit.
The Riaño region is the idyllic place for lovers of nature, and especially of fauna and flora. Here resides the best wildlife reserve represented by yews, beech, holly, oak, all kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants. And, of course, for the emblematic flower, the capilote or mountain narcissus, which every May sows the extensive meadows with yellow.
It is also possible to see a long list of animal species, among which the brown bear, the grouse, the Hispanic goat and the fine mountain water trout stand out.
For this, there are many hiking trails, whose intention is to make known the varied and rich biodiversity that this beautiful place is home to. Some of them are the Anciles valley route – a mixed boat and hiking route – the Anciles-Tendeña route, the ascent to Cueto Cabrón or also the ascent to Pico Gilbo, at 1667 meters.
Showcase of mountain traditions and culture in Riaño
On the other hand, with regard to culture, in Riaño you can visit the ethnographic museum. Here we can discover various tools related to livestock activity, fundamental in this region for centuries.
Likewise, the scene of the era is recreated with the tools used in it, the slaughter work and the fishing elements: the carafe and the butron. There are also traditional jobs and tasks, such as that of the madreñero with his tools, the blacksmith in the forge or the zamarrones.
On the other hand, the museum houses an interesting collection of rabels, a chordophone instrument played with a bow. In addition, it contains an excellent photographic collection of traditional houses and corners of the towns flooded by the reservoir, since Riaño has been a municipality marked by a great environmental catastrophe.
Under the waters of its reservoir, inaugurated in 1987, lush valleys, great biodiversity and the history of no less than 9 towns disappeared.
A place to discover
Riaño currently has an artistic heritage worth visiting. Beyond the natural and the architectural variety that host its streets and corners, we recommend that you enjoy its wide range of activities aimed at rural tourism.
To do this, you will also find a great variety of hotel establishments with luxurious hotels and hostels. Likewise, you will find the offer of typical culinary specialties, such as trout and meats, sausages and ham made by hand.
Finally, it is also possible to enjoy boat trips, motorcycle routes, hiking visiting the best natural shop windows, fairs, festivals, traditions and eating very, very well. Are you going to miss it?