General characteristics• The lake has 1100m long per 200m width.• It is at 1910m tall.• The lake is in Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park (Boí, Lerida, Spain).
Weather• The medium temperature in the Park oscillate between zero and five degrees. The winter of high mountain is very cold, in the high parts during more than for months the temperatures don’t go up more than 0 degrees.• The annual precipitations are between 900 mm and 1.300 mm, distributed in some 150 days of precipitations. These 150 days com a minimum 100 the precipitation is in form of snow.
Human landscape• The most outstanding feature of the Park is the scenery. Spectacularly beautiful, it is made up of a series of elements that complement each other almost perfectly to form a harmonious collection of sharp peaks and dramatic ridges, thick forests and green meadows, rivers of transparent water and deep lakes. The foundation of the landscape is made up of the rocks, the precipitous relief and the huge rock walls are the result of erosion by glaciers that filled these valleys around 50,000 years ago. The ice melted to reveal the results of its slow sculpting. The melt water filled all the holes, leaving blue spots on the rocks, and formed beautiful waterfalls between the levels of the main valley and the small secondary valleys. Life gradually invaded the rocky wasteland: first the lichens settled on the surface of the rocks, colouring them yellow, white and orange. Then the mosses, grasses, shrubs and trees colonised the valleys, adding shades of green to the colour palette. Animals large and small soon followed, including man, who soon left his mark.
• Already in the Neolithic Age he would take the first herds up to the mountains to graze in the summer and used fire to burn down the forest to make way for more meadows. In the early 20th century this secular high-mountain isolation was broken and hydroelectric plants began to appear in the Pyrenees to feed industry in the cities. This has perhaps been the most indelible of the marks man has left on the National Park while, paradoxically, it made a positive contribution to its being declared as such. The 20th century was also when city dwellers discovered the Pyrenees. First, the intrepid explorers avid for experiences and then incipient tourism, for the upper classes only, that with the socioeconomic boom of the second half of the century spread to the middle and working classes too.
Economics of the place• The economy is based in the touristic service sector, tan in summer with the National Park com in winter with the ski slopes.
History of the Park’s Protection• At the end of September 1955, General Franco visited the Pyrenees to open a number of hydroelectric power stations in the region. Having spent the night in La Farga, Boí, he went to El Portarró, on his way to Espot. A month later, in accordance with an old law on national parks enacted in 1916, Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park was created by decree on 21 October 1955. Originally it had an area of only 9,851 ha and was the fifth national park to be declared in Spain and the second in the Pyrenees after Ordesa. The Spanish law on protected natural areas, of 2 May 1975, involved a new regulation of national parks and established the need to reclassify them in order to comply with international criteria.
• The geographical area covered 10,230 ha in the municipal areas of La Vall de Boí (Alta Ribagorça) and Espot (Pallars Sobirà). This extension increased the protected Park area to 14,119 ha, leaving only 231 ha in the hands of private owners. At the same time, the peripheral area grew to 26,733 ha.
Geology• These rocks were surrounded by others—mainly sedimentary rocks, slate and limestone— that underwent metamorphism and folding during the Paleozoic (Primary Era) and are found on the edges of the Park. Much later, in the Tertiary Era and during the Alpine orogeny, the forces that gave rise to final formation of the Pyrenees worked again on the same materials, which were further deformed and fractured and underwent a process that eventually brought about the current relief.
Flora and vegetation• The great difference between the highest (3,029 m) and the lowest (1,200 m) parts of the Park gives rise to increased biodiversity. Temperature drops as altitude increases. In addition, aspect and slope determine the solar radiation received, the temperature regime, evapotranspiration and water availability in each community. Also wind circulation and the contrasts between sunny and shady slopes give rise to peculiarities of climate. The upper slopes and peaks suffer constant erosion, while the lowlands are reservoirs of water and nutrients. Thanks to all these factors, a relatively small area contains a relatively high number of plant species.
Fauna• Spotting wildlife might seem difficult. Here the animals are in their element and you will need to sharpen your senses to identify them, but there are almost 200 species of vertebrate living in the Park. Amongst the mammals found here are the Pyrenean chamois, the wild boar, the stoat, the marmot and the roe deer.• Birds form the largest vertebrate group in the National Park: In the most inaccessible forests are the black woodpecker, the capercailzie and the crossbill, amongst others. The griffon vulture, the golden eagle and the bearded vulture can easily be seen above the bare slopes and ridges, and in the alpine meadows we find the rock ptarmigan, the Alpine accentor and the yellow-billed chough.
Culture and history• The Middle Ages marked an unprecedented cultural awakening in the Pyrenees with the arrival of the Romanesque. This gave rise to a unique artistic heritage which is perfectly integrated in the surrounding landscape. The municipality of La Vall de Boí contains one of the most important Romanesque architectural ensembles in Europe and the most complete and magnificent in the Pyrenees, with churches such as Sant Climent and Santa Maria de Taüll, Sant Joan de Boí and Santa Eulàlia dErill la Vall, to name but a few. In the Àneu valleys we can see the churches of Sant Just i Sant Pastor in the village of Son, Sant Joan dIsil, Sant Pere del Burgal and the watchtowers of Espot and Escaló.• On 30 November 2000, the Romanesque churches of La Vall de Boí were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.