Odiel's marshes


An Exceptional Situation

The Natural Site of the Marshes of the Odiel can be found at a short walk from the city. Declared as Biosphere Reserve in 1983 by the UNESCO, the site is one of the biggest marsh areas in Spain and has a great variety of animal and vegetal species.

The intertwinement between the sea and the mouths of Tinto and Odiel Rivers gives form to the environment, creating spaces such as isles, beaches, lagoons, and bogs. Tides make some of these areas flood and emerge from water alternately.

The Marshes are a strategic place for migratory birds in their routes between Europe and Africa. More than 250 species – many of them are endangered species – can be seen at the site. Among the most remarkable ones, we must point out flamingos, spoonbills, herons, and ospreys. Apart from birds, the area houses one of the biggest colonies of chameleons in southern Europe and even an endemic butterfly species which can be only seen here.

The Visitors Centre

The Anastasio Senra Visitors Centre is located inside the Natural Site of the Marshes of the Odiel. The centre has exhibition rooms with information about the site for visitors. Besides, there are many itineraries all over the 7,000 ha of the Natural Site together with viewpoints and bird observatories. Another attractive way of getting to know the Marshes is through water by sailing the channel network of the Marshes.

Salt Lakes and Marshes

The salt lakes of the Marshes of the Odiel use the natural evaporation of seawater for producing salt. Shellfish-gathering, apiculture, and fishing were other sustainable activities traditionally carried out by mankind at a territory which has witnessed numerous cultures come and go. The ancient city of Tartessos is believed to have been located around this area. We have rests from pits for fish salting from the Roman Empire and an archaeological site at the Isle of Saltés from the Muslim Period. This site was actually the capital city of a taifa – an independent Muslim-ruled principality – between the tenth and the eleventh centuries.

Considered insalubrious in the past, the Marshes are actually ecosystems of vital importance for environmental balance. They nourish the ground by retaining sediments and minimize the effects of floods and droughts as they act as gigantic sponges – they accumulate rainwater in winter and release it in the driest months.