Caves of Nerja

The Caves of Nerja are a series of caverns close to the town of Nerja in Andalusia. Stretching for almost 5 km the caverns are one of Spain’s major tourist attractions. Concerts are regularly held in one of the chambers which forms a naturalamphitheatre.

The caves were re-discovered in modern times on 12 January 1959 by five friends, who entered through a narrow sink hole, known as “La Mina”. This forms one of the two natural entrances to the cave system. A third entrance was created in 1960 to allow easy access for tourists. The cave is divided into two main parts known as Nerja I and Nerja II. Nerja I includes the Show Galleries which are open to the public, with relatively easy access via a flight of stairs and concreted pathways to allow tourists to move about in the cavern without difficulty. Nerja II, which is not open to the public comprises the Upper Gallery discovered in 1960 and the New Gallery discovered in 1969.

Show Gallery

Each of the galleries has a number of halls, areas where the walls, floors or ceilings close in to subdivide the main caverns. The Show Gallery is accessed by a 8 m flight of stairs leading to the Entrance Hall (Sala de Vestibulo) where archaeological excavations took place and where some of the finds are now displayed. Off to one side a passage leads the Mine Hall (Sala de la Mina), and Hall of the Sink (Sala de la Torca) where further archaeological excavations take place. This area is not normally open to the public. Back through the Entrance Hall is the Hall of the Nativity (Sala de Belén) which is filled with columns of calcite. A skeleton recovered from the cave is on display in a glass case in this subsection. From the Entrance Hall a passage called the Hall of the Tusk (Sala del Colmillo) leads down to the Hall of the Waterfall or Ballet (Sala de la Cascada o del Ballet). It is here that concerts and festivals of dance are staged and there are about 100 seats set permanently in the cave. This large cavern has little to separate it from the Hall of the Phantoms (Sala de los Fantasmas) apart from some columns. The Hall of the Phantoms is named after an unusual speleothem. At the end of this cavern is a large rockfall which separates it from the Hall of the Cataclysm (Sala del Cataclismo) which is over 100 m long and dominated by the huge central column which is the biggest in the world, measuring 13 m by 7 m at the base and standing 32 m high. Further down into the hall is the Organ Corner (Rincón del Órgano) where fluted columns can be struck to produce different notes. Some of the columns seem to have been intentionally altered to produce different notes by the prehistoric inhabitants of the cave. High up in the far corner of this cave is the opening which allows access to the Upper and New Galleries.

Upper and New Galleries

The Upper and New Galleries are each divided into two halls. In the Upper Hall are the Columns of Hercules (Columnas de Hércules) and the Hall of Immensity (Sala de la Inmensidad), while in the New Gallery there are the Hall of the Lance (Sala de la Lanza) and the Hall of the Mountain (Sala de la Montaña). These two areas contain many of the cave paintings, but tourist access is restricted to specialised caving “speleothem tourism”.

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