ONE OF SPAIN'S MOST VISITED SITES
A few kilometres east of Neija are the Caves of Nerja, beside the charming village of Maro. Between the shores of the Mediterranean and the wild foothills of the Sierra Almijara mountains, hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive every year to the caves, making this unique and valuable historical cavern one of Spain's most visited sites.
The Nerja Caves were discovered in 1959, when a group of boys from Maro, out playing, made their way in through a narrow passageway situated at the bottom of a small cavity known as "The Mine". Little did they imagine what they would discover there. In 1960 a proper entrance was made in order to allow visits, The caves were first known as the Caves of Wonders, although this was later changed to the present name, and declared as an Historic Artistic Monument on the 15th June 1961.
Once a year in July, the silence of the caverns is broken by the Festival of the Caves of Nerja, with famous national and international artistes participating.
The Nerja Caves are situated approximately 3 kilometres west of the town of Nerja. They are located on the meridian slope of the Sierra Almijara mountain, with its entrance at some 158 metres above sea level, and less than a 1 kilometre from the coastline. The caves can be reached by turning off the national N340 main road, immediately opposite Maro, on the stretch between Nerja and Almunecar. The caves are spacious inside and not in the least claustrophobic.
Open daily from 1000 - 1400 and 1600 - 1830 (1600 - 2000 in July and August).
Cueva de Nerja, Maro, Nerja 29787 Tel: 952 529 520
Situated in the Andalusia region of La Axarquia, between the Acantilados de Maro Natural Par and the Tejada and almijara Sierras National Game Reserve, about 5 km from Nerja and 1 km from the old municipal district of Maro.
Access is from the N340.
The caves are open from 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 18:30.
In July and August, the evening visiting hours are from 16:00 to 20:00
Length of the cavity: 7 219,28 m.
Levels spread: 67,95 metres
Total Surface: 35 484 m2
Total Volume: 264 379,33 m3
Discovered by schoolboys hunting for bats in 1959, the collection of caverns was soon recognised as being one of the most important cave systems in the country. They provided archaeological proof that Cro-Magnon lived in these parts more than 20,000 years ago and the rupestrian paintings discovered there depicting dolphins are the only known examples from the Upper Palaeolithic era.
It takes about an hour to wander round all the caverns, more if you like caves. And these are quite special. Apart from good lighting , the biggest impression is made by the 60 metre high stalactic pillar in the furthest chamber. You can also see, high in the end wall, a red light which marks the entrance to another bigger system still unopened to the public.
Every June there is a Festival Of Music and Dance held in the auditorium in the first cave which provides a magical backdrop to ballet, classical music and singing. Top names perform and the seating is limited so enquire about tickets well in advance.
It is possible to explore some of the chambers and caverns not yet open to the public by joining a speleological group, consisting of a maximum 10 people over the age of 14. No special physical skills are necessary, so ring for details.
Scientists investigating cave fauna have recently discovered species that were thought to be extinct in the caves. Amongst these, in areas not open to the public, are scarab beetles and blind scorpions. Alberto Atinavt, department head at the University of Granada, is carrying out studies on the interior and exterior micro fauna of the cave.
The Cave of Nerja, which has been declared an Historic-Artistic Monument, is 4,283 m long, of which only a third can be visited by the public. Particularly impressive is the 32 m-tall Hall of the Cataclysm. It has been calculated that this space was fashioned by the fall of 1,000 billion drops of water. The visitor's attention will also be drawn to the Hall of the Phantoms and the Hall of the waterfall.
These caves are the formation of karstic cavities, with its origin in the chain of the geologic processes occurred within the last 5 million years. In the period of Triassic significant quantities of the calcareous mud settled down on the fond of the ancient Mediterranean sea, later on transforming into the calcareous-dolomite marble, which at present shelter the Caves of Nerja. In the period of the alpine orogeny (the end of Cretaceous – beginning of Miocene), started 65 million years ago and lasting up to 5 million years ago, drifts between tectonic layers of Africa and Europe resulted in the creation of the Beticas mountains, such as Sierra Tejeda or Almijara. The abundance of rain in the last 5 million years (Superior Mioceneand – Inferior Pleistocene) infiltrated the fissures of marbles stimulating its further dissolution. In this way, huge cavities in which the underground waters circulated were formed. Later on, due to the surge of the ground embossment, resulting from the mountain slides in the region in question, the subterranean waters were forced to look for the lower layers to circulate in, so the caves began to refill with carbonate deposits stalactites and stalagmites. In the last 800,000 years (Medium Pleistocene and Holocene) the impressive stalactites and stalagmites have been formed thanks to the further settling of calcite. The settlement processes have created the subterranean scenery of the Caves of Nerja, which can be admired nowadays.
Only one-third of the halls are open for tourists: low galleries (Entrance Hall, Créche Hall, Elephant Eye-Tooth Hall, Ballet Hall, Phantoms Hall and Cataclysm Hall).
The High halls, discovered in 1960 and New galleries, discovered in 1970, are not open to the general public, and are only accessible by joining speleological groups, consisting of a maximum 10 people over the age of 14. No special physical skills are necessary. For enquiries the number to ring 952 529 520.
The approximate duration of the visit to the tourist areas in the Caves of Nerja is around 45 minutes.
These fantastic caves have been sympathetically transformed into a natural theatre where several concerts and ballets are staged during the summer. Every June there is a Festival Of Music and Dance held in the auditorium in the first cave which provides a magical backdrop to ballet, classical music and singing. Top names perform and the seating is limited so book well in advance.