Cantabrian Mountains above Castilla y León Tablelands, Spain
Part of the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León is visible here. The Cantabrian Mountains (top) are covered by snow; they make a sharp divide between “Green Spain” to the north, and the dry central plateau.
Their southern slopes create a rain shadow, causing the flatter lands below to be arid and golden yellow in color. The land north of the northern slopes, on the other hand, is green and fertile as it receives heavy rainfall from the Bay of Biscay.
This mountain range (Cordillera Cantábrica in Spanish) extends for more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) across northern Spain. They stretch east-west, nearly parallel to the sea, as far as the pass of Leitariegos, also extending south between León and Galicia.
As a whole, the Cantabrian Mountains are remarkable for their intricate ramifications, but almost everywhere, and especially in the east, it is possible to distinguish two principal ranges, from which the lesser ridges and mountain masses radiate.
One range, or series of ranges, closely follows the outline of the coast; the other, which is loftier, forms the northern limit of the great tableland of Castile and León.
The coastal range rises in, some parts sheer above the sea, and everywhere has so abrupt a declivity that the streams which flow seaward are all short and swift.