Our destinations in Extremadura are not covered in our handy Rick Steve’s Spain, which in a way made the trip that much sweeter when everything turned out so wonderful. We stepped off the beaten trail and found places that were endearing and so worthy of a stop. One such place was Aracena, home to the Gruta de las Maravillas (the Cave of Marvels). This amazing limestone cave, underneath the ruins of a hilltop castle, had come highly recommended by friends, who professed that they were not “cave people.”
Let me second that you don’t need to be “cave people” to be awed by what lies underground. The number of visitors is limited each day, and you can only visit as part of a tour. In fact, if you lag behind the group, the lights automatically shut off. We arrived at the ticket office as they were reopening from siesta and were able to make the first afternoon tour an hour later. Ticket prices included audio guides, though they were only supplied to children over six. Our Henry Dude was so disappointed, and I had to agree with my little man on this one. Cora used my headset, so I’m not sure what we would have learned by listening. But what a truly amazing site. The cave was full of underwater grottos that seemed like glass the water was so still. And everywhere you looked, the water had created a different pattern or formation or marvel. Little Cora marched through the hole cavern herself. It’s amazing what tiny little legs, and small trickles of water, can accomplish.
No photographs were allowed to be taken within the caves, so enjoy these pictures from our brief stay in Aracena. For such a small town, it had such spirit. There were beautiful tile mosaics and sculptures that dotted the squares and shared space. Roses and lush green vines covered white washed buildings. We did grab ice cream and espresso, but I could have grabbed more time just to wander a bit more and enjoy the atmosphere of this charming town.