Caves are generally considered eerie and scary which is exactly what can be said of the contents of the caves of Nerja: Skeletons and ceramics.
The discovery of the caves of Nerja was born out of the curiosity of five boys from the village of Maro. After observing bats coming and going from a pothole known as “la mina”, the boys tried to find out where the bats lived. What they stumbled upon were the caves of Nerja instead.
The oldest painting in the world
Considered one of the most important geological finds of this century, the Nerja caves yielded even more mind blowing treasures than their mere presence: the oldest paintings in the world. The six painting of seals are the only known drawings made by Neanderthal man.
Estimated to be aged between 42,300 to 43,500 years they are recognized as the oldest works of art in the world. Their discovery revolutionized modern thinking concerning the capabilities of Neanderthal man. There was a wide consensus that he was apelike and not able to express himself in art or any form of symbolism. This has been proven to be far from true by the paintings.
Prehistoric tools and wall paintings
Since the caves were discovered, there have been more discoveries within them as more people have visited them. From broken bits of pottery and ceramics to wall paintings and tools, there is tangible proof to show the kind of lifestyle the Neanderthal man lived.
The wall paintings and remains of human skeletons reveal that these caves were initially temporary dwellings that housed small groups like an extended family or clan. After the 21,000 BC, the inhabitants grew in number and started to make the caves their permanent homes
The World’s largest column
The Nerja caves house the largest column which was formed from the merging of a stalagmite and stalactite. Standing at a height of 32 meters it has held the record for the world’s largest column since 1989.
Blind scorpions and scarab beetles
Long thought to have gone extinct, the blind Scorpion and scarab beetles were found to be alive and thriving in the Nerja caves. This was a new archaeological discovery of from the caves
The older, already discovered part is known as Nerja I. It is accessible to the public and takes up a quarter of the cave’s surface area. This is where the GaleriasTuristica -the tourist galleries – are found. The rest of the caves are classified as Nerja II and are not open to the public yet. This section is home to the newer archaeological findings like pieces of Roman pottery and a Moorish/Arab coin.
However, you can have a specialized tour of the Nerja II section of the cave through a speleological. These are study groups made up of a maximum of 10 people. The minimum age for the Speleological is 14 years.
Several caves are of great importance. These include
- The Sala de la Cascada/ Sala de Ballet which hosts the annual Festival of Music and Dance in the second or third week of June
- The Sala de losFantasmas which are believed to be ghost chambers
- The Sala del Cataclismo which houses the world largest column’s epic proportions
Directions and important information
The caves are 3km east of Nerja neighbouring a village called Maro. They are open 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 6.30pm during the winter months and 10am to 7.30pm in the summer months.