Today we drove two hours to Nerja, a sleepy town about 40 minutes north of Malaga. Under ordinary circumstances, I wouldn’t think about going there. They have a pretty cool bridge, but it doesn’t have much on the bridge in Ronda, close to where I live, so it wouldn’t appeal that much to me. But what they do have are some amazing prehistoric caves where ancient people once had a settlement.
Carved out of the rock from a time when the ocean covered the area, they weren’t rediscovered until the mid 1950’s when some local boys were out playing and found them. Opened to visitors in 1960, there is a series of enormous caverns in which you can wander around, marveling at the stalactites jutting out from the ceilings. They were inhabited as early as 25,000 years ago, and in 2012 researchers discovered cave pantings which may now be considered the oldest in the world.
The earliest inhabitants used it as a seasonal place to stay, and other wild animals lived there when the humans were gone. Within several thousand years, though, the humans began to stay there year round, hunting and developing pottery and textile industries. Part of the caves were also used as a burial chamber, and skeletons have been found dating to about 3800BC.
You can tour the caves, and we took Hannah, so it’s pretty easy for babies and young people. It’s not accessible for wheelchairs though, and there are literally hundreds of steps up and down, so you need to be able to walk several flights of steps up and down at one time. The entrance is easy to access, and it all seemed pretty safe, though there were several times when I had a minor heart attack when Hannah ran off. It’s pretty well lit, keeping in mind that some kind of moss substance grows near the light, so they try to keep it as dim as possible.
The basic tour is €10 and you can rent a headset to hear the full story for €1. The headsets seemed to be perpetually broken though, and required a lot of fumbling around, so I would think it would be better to just download the app and get your information either before or after so you can focus on taking photos and being present to the magic around you when you visit. There is an easy lot to park in, but you can also park for free just a bit further from the entrance – look out on the left for the dirt lot and lots of cars parked in between the trees.
Seriously though, if you’re in Andalusia, you have to visit these caves. They are amazing and well worth the time and money. Make a special day of it by stopping at one of the cove-like beaches in Nerja before heading home. Great restaurants all around, and a fun small town feel.