Spain, ‘Everything under the Sun’ (or underground).
What unusual sights have Spain, Italy and Turkey in common? Without doubt, several but we’re looking today at troglodytic (cave dwelling) life in a modern age……
There are many examples in Europe of people still living in caves but the most well know are Capadocia in Turkey, Matera in Italy and Guardix in Spain. For no other reason other than I live here, let’s look at Spain or, more particularly, Guadix in Granada Province, Andalucia.
For millennia, humans have tunnelled into limestone to make homes, churches, wine cellars, funeral sites etc. Guardix is undoubtedly the largest troglodytic site in Europe with over 4,000 cave dwellings and more than half the population living in them still. This is no ‘Bedrock’ with fur-clad Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble lookalikes. Most of the inhabited homes are very comfortable indeed and the barrio even has luxury hotel rooms deep below ground.
The Romans really put Guadix on the map, Julius Caesar, developed the town which became prosperous for its silver mines. Later, occupied by the North African Moors (who renamed the town Guadh-Haix, the River of Life), it became a centre of silk production.
Forget the idea of cold, chilly caverns, dripping with water and with moss-covered walls. These caves are dry and, in a land of scorching summers and cold winters nights, the internal temperature is a constant 20 degrees throughout the year. What a saving on central heating and air-conditioning bills. Also think of the additional benefit of being able to dig out another bedroom when too many guests arrive for Christmas.
The people of Guadix are extremely friendly and ‘caveproud. Stroll around, smile and you’ll almost certainly be invited inside one of these fascinating dwellings.
While visiting Guadix, remember that there are a number of other cave villages nearby, one of which even has a cave discothèque! Other sights in the town, not to be missed are the splendid Cathedral (founded1594), the medieval Arab citadel and the remarkable Cave Museum.
One other sight not to be missed is the nearby Castle of the Calahorra with its wonderful renaissance patio, built in Florentine marble. Be advised though that, unless things have changed recently, you will have to seek out the curator in the village and, if you drive him up to the castle, he will open it up for you to look inside….
The Blue Danube Group of Toronto are the acknowledged experts in tours of Spain. Check them out on: http://www.spaintours.biz/index.htm
…..another blog by peter harrison, thanks for your interest.