Canal de Castilla

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Canal of Castile as it flows east of Fromista
Canal of Castile in Medina de Rioseco.
Canal of Castile
Canal of Castile in Valladolid.

The Canal of Castile (Canal de Castilla in Spanish) is a canal in the north of Spain. Constructed during the last half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, it runs through the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Valladolid, in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is one of the country's few canals.

It was built to ease the wheat grain transport from Castile to the northern harbours and to other markets from there. However, when railroads were built in northern Spain in the nineteenth century, the canal turned into the spine of a huge irrigation system due to its relative inefficiency as a means of transport. The locks on the canal were decommissioned in the twentieth century.

Similar to an inverted 'Y' in layout, the canal stretches 207 km (129 mi), linking the towns of Alar del Rey (Palencia), considered the beginning of the Northern Branch, Valladolid and Medina de Rioseco, lying at the end of the Southern Branch and Campos Branch respectively.


The countryside crossed by the canal is of interest for its birdlife. In the Tierra de Campos there are two large Special Protection Areas (La Nava-Campos Norte and La Nava-Campos Sur) which are notable for the birds such as bustards which live in the dryland farming areas (sometimes described as "steppes"). The canal, on the other hand, provides habitats for wetland birds such as the bittern (Botaurus stellaris).

The canal lends its name to two Sites of Community Importance alongside the watercourse:

  • a wooded stretch of the canal near Osorno la Mayor protected as Canal de Castilla (121 ha).[1]
  • a number of wetlands (some very small) protected as Lagunas del Canal de Castilla (71 ha). This multi-site protected area has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation and as a Special Protection Area.[2]

In 2006-10 the European Union's Life Programme funded restoration of wetlands in the province of Palencia with the aim of improving the canal's contribution to biodiversity. Birds of interest to the project include:

The improvements included facilities for bird-watching: two observatories were positioned close to two of the wetlands with the greatest ornithological interest along the Canal of Castile: the Venta de Valdemudo (Becerril de Campos) and the Valdemorco (Boadilla del Camino) lagoons. These observatories complemented one already existing (in Toja de las Ribas, Ribas de Campos) before the LIFE project.[4]

Municipalities crossed over by Canal[edit]

Ordered North to South, East to West.

Northern Branch[edit]

Palencia Province[edit]

Burgos Province[edit]

Palencia Province[edit]

Campos Branch[edit]

Palencia Province[edit]

Valladolid Province[edit]

Southern Branch[edit]

Palencia Province[edit]

Valladolid Province[edit]


  1. ^ ES4140080
  2. ^ ES0000205
  3. ^ BirdLife International (2010) Stable isotope analysis reveals the wintering grounds of the Aquatic Warbler. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: Checked: 14/02/2013
  4. ^ Canal de Castilla - Wetland restoration and management

External links[edit]


Several authors 1986, El Canal de Castilla, GREFOL S.A. (Móstoles, Madrid) Copyright Castile and León Community Government. Legal Deposit M-8.751-1986

Coordinates: 41°44′58″N 4°38′49″W / 41.7494°N 4.64694°W / 41.7494; -4.64694