Malaga Stories and Tips

Visiting a Spelunker's Dream, The Nerja Cave

Inside the Nerja Cave. Photo, Malaga, Spain

The Nerja Cave is called the Natural Cathedral of Prehistory due to its incomparable beauty and historic importance. The cave, first discovered in 1959, lies near Maro, about 30 miles (48km) from Malaga.

We drove our rental car there one day, arriving at about 2pm. We were just in time to learn that the cave is open only from 10am to 2pm and from 4pm to 6:30pm daily. Unfortunately, the store also closes from 2pm until 4pm.

The good news was that parking in the large paved lots was free, and the rather large restaurant was open and offered either a well-stocked buffet or your selection from their menu. The prices were fairly high compared to US pricing, probably due to the fact that we tourists are a captive audience. We opted for ice-cream parfaits for about 11.3€. We were able to visit with some British tourists until the ticket office re-opened at about 3:45pm. Two adult tickets cost 10€.

From the man-made entrance, we descended a flight of stairs for about 8m to an "entrance hall," the site of an archaeological excavation. Some of the finds are shown in a display case and on explanatory panels. We continued down a narrow passage about 2m high, entering the Hall of the Nativity, where our picture was taken for later purchase in the gift shop. Here, in a showcase, we viewed a stone-aged skeleton that was found in the cave.

A passage on the right, called the Hall of the Tusk, encircles the Waterfall Chamber, sometimes referred to as the Hall of the Cascade, or Ballet, where the internationally famous festivals of dance and music are staged in the summertime. The auditorium consists of about 100 metal seats, without cushions. The stairway offers an excellent panoramic photo opportunity. Photography is discouraged, but people took pictures anyway without being harassed. The cave is so large that a normal flash would be practically useless anyway. Beyond the stage, we entered the Hall of Phantoms, which ends in a bottleneck resulting from a chaotic pile of fallen rocks. Above this is a spectacular stalagmite formation called The Castle.

We took the steps over the bottleneck into the Hall of the Cataclysm, where we enjoyed two panoramic views. Behind us was the Hall of the Phantoms, and ahead was one of the most impressive show cave scenes in the world: the Hall of the Cataclysm. It is more than 100m long, 50m wide, and over 30m high, with a giant center column featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest in the world.

Here the path divided, and we took the one on the right descending to a new landing known as the Organ, where we were told that striking the fluted columns would produce different musical sounds. More steps lead down to The Bridge. In the highest point close to the roof is a passage leading to the Upper and New Galleries, which are only open to the public on special occasions as a part of a 7-hour tour costing 90€ per adult. After crossing The Bridge, our path passed over a huge fallen block and then rose as it circumnavigated the central column before rejoining our original path at the entrance to the Hall of Cataclysm. Returning along the same path gave us another perspective. In the Hall of the Tusk, we turned right to exit up a final flight of stairs. The padlocked steel door on the right leads to the Hall of the Mine and other sites of archaeological interest not open to the public.

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