About 24km inland from Alicante is the small town of Busot. It is home to a huge cave with an extraordinary story. Named after the largest stalagmite inside, the cave system is called Coves del Canelobre, or the Candelabra Caves.
Formed over millions of years, the caves are believed to have been discovered in the 10th Century by the Moors. For centuries they were accessible through a tiny entrance but during the Spanish Civil War a large entrance was created. This enabled the Republicans to hide their aircraft inside. A special platform was created for their storage and also for engine maintenance. Unfortunately they had to destroy many of the stalactites hanging over the central part of the cave to protect the workers. That’s why, when you look up, much of the ceiling is bare rock. Don’t expect to see any growing back soon either. Under normal circumstances they would grow by about 1cm every 100 years, and the climate in the area is so dry at the moment that there is no real growth occurring.
The caves have now been open to the public for over 50 years. As well as your standard visit, concerts are held several times throughout the year. The acoustics inside must provide for an amazing sound.
Sadly photography was not permitted inside. My guide was rather strict about this. I found it much easier to listen to the Spanish side of his tour as the information he had in English was rather limited. He pointed out some of the formations which are easier to imagine like the image of the Virgin Mary and the jellyfish, but I could not visualise the dragon or the dog he was pointing to. The caves are beautifully lit and the the trail along which you are guided isn’t too hard on the knees, although handrails provide welcome assistance in places. Don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic, these caves open up like a cathedral inside so you shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable.
At €7 for an adult to go in, the caves were disappointingly small. They are, however, a nice trip out, and can be combined with some great walks in the Cabeço d’Or hills. There’s even a doughnut shaped rock which the footpaths presumably climb up to, and the views from the car park are amazing out towards Alicante.