8 kilometers from Baena, in the area known as ‘Puente de la Maturra’, is what is considered the fourth largest cave in Spain and the first at the provincial level. The formation, with rocks dating back to the Miocene and even older periods, presents as one of its main characteristics, a level of massive gypsum about 60 meters thick, stratigraphically located between two levels of impermeable rocks (marl) that prevent hydrological connections to other nearby gypsum strata.
With high-rise spaces in which up to four main galleries and two secondary galleries can be distinguished, it is developed on two different levels. The one with the best access is conditioned for your visit, with several lakes and gypsum crystal formations of great interest and beauty inside it. For its part, the second of them, being less accessible, has made it possible to conserve an important colony of bats in danger of extinction and various species of decapod crustaceans that develop only in this cave, as various studies have confirmed. international.
The cavity maintains a stable temperature throughout the year, about 21 degrees centigrade, which produces a pleasant thermal sensation and favors the visit in a journey of just under an hour through the very bowels of the earth.
Plaster Cave. formations of this material.
Plaster Cave. Inside of the cavity.
Although there are testimonies of previous internments, this cavity was not officially discovered until 1945 and scientifically explored in 1965. At that time it was known as Cueva de las Palomas, possibly because it was close to the area where the Cuesta Paloma salt flats are located. .
The locals, who from time immemorial entered its first section in search of the appreciated guano (bat excrement of great use as organic fertilizer), weaved all kinds of legends related to the Mine, a name they gave to this cavity of natural origin. , but that in the collective imagination was supposed to be carved by man in Muslim times. It was believed to be connected with some of the watchtowers in the region, such as the Montecillo or even with the castle of Castro el Viejo, in the ancient city that existed in Torreparedones. Legends that tell us about feared specters and fabulous treasures hidden there, perhaps the same ones that the owner of a Nasrid dagger discovered in the depths of a chasm sought, the same one that prevented him from continuing in search of the dreamed riches.
The special geological characteristics and the unique microfauna discovered inside this cavity have made it an international benchmark for speleological research.