As well as warm Mediterranean seas, beautiful beaches and tasty tapas, Spain also offers a natural wonder that was only discovered 50 years ago. The Nerja Caves have been around for millions of years but it was only when five local boys from Maro on the Cost del Sol, stumbled across this find that the world was aware of the caves and the history they held.
In 1959 the boys went to hunt bats and headed for a pothole known locally as ‘La Mina’ in Nerja. On this trip they removed a few stalagmites from the cave to go a little further, creating an entrance into the expansive caves that had been hidden for so long. Here is where they discovered skeletal remains.
Once their find was made public, more exploring discovered a series of caverns stretching almost 5km. The human remains indicate that the caves were inhabited from about 25,000 BC up until the Bronze Age and that in the periods where humans did not dwell in the caves, they were inhabited by Cave Hyenas.
The caves are divided into two sections named Nerja I and Nerja II. Nerja I is where you will find the Show Galleries which are open to the public and where tourists can move about the cavern with ease. Nerja II is not open to the public and comprises of the Upper Gallery discovered in 1959 and the New Gallery discovered in 1969.
It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and if you decide to go to Spain then this is a must-see natural wonder. Nerja holidays provide everything you would associate with a Costa del Sol getaway, but with the added bonus of the history and other-worldly feel that the Nerja Caves give to onlookers. With stalagmites and stalactites throughout the caves including the world’s largest stalagmite – a 32m column measuring 13m by 7m at its base – you’ll feel like you are in another time.
The caves are also regularly used to hold concerts as one of the chambers provides excellent acoustics as a natural amphitheatre. Notable names that have performed there include Spanish and Catalan tenor, José Carreras, Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich and Maya Plisetskaya, who is a Russian ballet dancer. Since 1960 it has been the home of the International music and dance festival held each July, attracting artists and musicians from all over the world.
As Spain’s hidden treasure it is one of those great natural attractions that will always spark people’s interest. You can see something that has formed over millions of years and the history associated with that time period, as well as possibly catching a concert in a cave. All very random, but definitely a good story to tell the grandkids.