Alcalá la Real

Alcalá la Real

Alcalá la Real, in Jaén, is located right where the Jaen Province meets Córdoba and Granada. It lived its very first Vuelta appearance in 2010, in a stage that linked Málaga and Valdepeñas de Jaén. Overlooking the locality from its hilltop is the Mota Fortress that, for over 150 years, acted as a border between the Kingdoms of Castille and Granada.

Castillo de Alcalá la Real © Diputación de Jaén

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Alcalá la Real- Sierra Nevada Observatory

This stage is one of La Vuelta's crowning glories, with the climb up to the Sierra Nevada, a finish-line located 2480 metres above sea level and a 2000m slope ending in the Baetic geological nucleus.

We depart from the Sub-Baetic mountain ranges, cutting through all the ridges perpendicularly. These mountain ranges are made up of Mesozoic calcareous and gypsiferous materials (245-65 million years ago, shown in purple, blue and green in the diagram). Between these highlands and the Sierra Nevada we find the Vega de Granada, characterised for its terrigenous Pliocene and Quaternary materials (5-0 million years ago) pertaining to the Genil River (light pink and grey).

The Baetic System is formed by an accumulation of three overthrust formations, two of which are perfectly represented on the way up the Sierra Nevada: Alpujárride and Nevado-Filábride. The first, despite only reaching heights that barely surpass 2000m (Trevenque Peak, 2079m) it is identified for its most abrupt morphology, due to the predominance of carbonated materials. The second makes up the Sierra Nevada's highest peaks of over 3000m (Mulhacén Peak, 3478m), but its shape is gentler due to the abundance of schists.

On the way up, the places of special geological interest are:

  • Cahorros Gorge: start of the Alpujárride overthrust formation, excavated in favour of a complex of perpendicular faults of East-West and North-South directions respectively, near Monachil.
  • Fault plane on km 20 of the road to Sierra Nevada, the border between two overthrust formations.
  • Trevenque Peak: (37°04′40″N 3°28′56″O) the most emblematic of the Alpujárride complex.
  • Veleta Peak: (37°03′02″N 3°20′54″O) forms a surface on its Northern side where the majority of the ski resort is located. It is the second highest in Sierra Nevada, standing 3396 metres above sea level.

Its morphology denotes its glacial past, with an abundance of U-shaped valleys, glacial cirques, etc., that are currently occupied by river systems, including the Genil River.

Stage Term: Overthrust Formation

Geological structure formed when lateral forces (for example, the approximation of two tectonic plates) provoke the rupture and buckling of a region's rocks on top of themselves, with significant horizontal shifts. This buckling results in the repetition of vertical rock successions and in the creation of mountain ranges.

Cahorros de Monachil. © Por los caminos de Málaga / Creative Commons Atribución 2.0 Genérica.Summit and cirques with glacial lakes in the Sierra Nevada National Park, Granada. © Mario MorellónTrevenque Peak, the most emblematic summit of Alpujárride © Agustín SenderosFault plane with ridges formed by the friction between the two shifting blocks © Agustín Senderos

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