East of the town on the N-340 in Maro are the Cuevas de Nerja, which were only discovered in 1959 and contain wall paintings believed to be at least 20,000 years old.
Only some of the huge chambers are open to the public, one of which has been converted into an auditorium capable of holding several hundred people. In the summer, this auditorium is used for concerts with the arrival of some famous artists including internationally renowned orchestras and flamenco artists.
The caves are the formation of karstic cavities, their origin dating back millions of years. During the Triassic period , large quantities of calcareous mud settled on the fond of the ancient Mediterranean sea, transforming into the calcareous-dolomite marble which at present shelter the caves.
At the end of Cretaceous/ beginning of the Miocene period, which began some 65 million years ago and lasted up to 5 million years ago, drifts between the tectonic layers of Africa and Europe resulted in the creation of the Beticas mountains, including the Sierra Tejeda or Almijara. The abundant rain of the last 5 million years (Upper Miocene and Lower Pleistocene) infiltrated the fissures of marbles, stimulating its further dissolution.
Huge cavities, in which the underground waters circulated, were thus formed. Later, due to mountain slides in the region, the subterranean waters were forced into the lower layers and, as a consequence, the caves started to refill with carbonate deposits, stalactites and stalagmites.
In the last 800,000 years (Middle Pleistocene and Holocene) the impressive stalactites and stalagmites have formed following further settling of calcite.
Only about one-third of the halls are open for tourists, namely the low galleries (Entrance Hall, Créche Hall, Elephant Eye-Tooth Hall, Ballet Hall, Phantoms Hall and Cataclysm Hall) The High Halls, discovered in 1960, and the New Galleries, discovered in 1970, are only accessible to a restricted group of specialist visitors.
Total Surface Area: 35,484 m2
Total Volume: 64,379 m3
The Caves Revisited – 30/09/06
It must be about eight years since my first visit to the Nerja Caves so it was high time for a refresher. It cost €7 to get in, which is good value these days. Down the steps and along a narrow passage way with a fairly low ceiling.
At this stage, you get no idea of the sights you are in for. And then you get to the huge chamber, stalagmites and stalagtites all over the place.
The lighting in the caves has been very carefully thought out, as it is done in such a way that it enhances the already impressive caverns. Either that or someone got lucky.
Some of the rock formations almost look man-made at times, beautifully sculpted, and one half expects to see a little label saying ‘Made in Taiwan’. It takes very little imagination to see all sorts of faces and shapes in the rocks, the whole scene looking somewhat like a fairytale or alien landscape.
And the acoustics! As people wander around, you almost get the sense of ‘reverence’, voices kept to a whisper as if everyone was in a library or church. Except me, I felt the need to whistle and listen to the reverberations. There’s always one!
The caves, we decided, are actually very difficult to describe to anyone else, they’re something you really have to see for yourselves to appreciate the absolute splendour of millions of years of natural evolution. They are, in a word, magnificent….
Nerja Caves Photos
Lots more photos from more recent visits: Photo Gallery – Nerja Caves
Visiting Hours and Prices
10:00 – 16:00
16:00 – 18:30
Summer (July and August)
10:00 – 19:30
Children aged 6 years to 12 years: €4.50
Children under 6 years: Free
Associations (from 15 people): €6.00
College Groups (25 people, teacher goes free): €4.00
See Maps & Directory Places of Interest map for location.